Year 1 phonics screening check 2015 – FAQs

Soon the Year 1 phonics screening check will take place. Here are some answers to questions that parents, carers and teachers may have about the check:

1. When will the screening check take place?
The screening check will take place on the week commencing June 15th 2015.

2. How will the test be administered?
The test will be administered in a one-to-one setting with every pupil having a record sheet on which the teacher records their response (a tick in the correct or incorrect column).

The test cannot be administered by TAs.

3. Can teachers see examples of the screening check?
Yes, the DfE has published sample pages so that teachers can familiarise themselves with the format of the check and consider whether their children are on course to learn the type of phonics knowledge included in the check this year. It is not intended to be used as practice material for children.

Children’s Materials

Answer Sheet

4. When and how should teachers report results?
Results should be reported to Local Authorities. The local authorities must submit the results to the DfE by July 31st.

Schools should notify parents of the results by the end of the summer term.

5. What is the content of the screening check?
The screening check will include 40 real and non-words (nonsense words also called pseudo words).

6. Is the screening test pupil friendly?
Yes, it is. Only 4 words appear on a page so the pupil is not daunted. Next to the non-words there is an image of a cute, alien looking monster to make sure the child does not seek to match the word with a real word.

7. What is the phonics screening check actually checking?
The phonics screening check is checking that children at the end of Year 1 have the foundations they need to learn to read. These are the skills for blending (pushing together) sounds into words and the phonic knowledge of recognising the sounds for basic letters and letter combinations. For this reason the check includes certain word structures (which indicates how well children blend sounds into words) and certain letters or letter combinations (which indicates their phonic knowledge).

8. What is the structure of the screening check?
The screening test has two sections as follows:

Section 1 has simple word structures:  (C=consonant   V=Vowel)

CVC (e.g. shin and bim)

VCC (e. g. end and ulf)

CCVC (e.g.  grit and blan)

CVCC (e.g. best and hild)
The phonic knowledge in Section 1 is the sounds of the alphabet, some consonant digraphs (ch,ck, ff, ll, ng, sh, ss, th, zz) and a few vowel digraphs that always spell the same sound (ar, ee, oi, oo, or). There are some real words like ‘week, start, hooks’ with these vowel digraphs.

Section 2 includes more complex word structures as follows:

CCVCC (e.g. blank  and snemp)

CCCVC (e.g.  strap and spron)

CCCVCC ( sprint and stroft )

It also includes some two syllable words e.g.’rusty, dentist, starling’.
The phonic knowledge includes additional consonant digraphs (e.g. ph and wh) and more vowel digraphs which include split digraphs (a-e, e-e, i-e, o-e, u-e) and some alternative spellings (e.g. ai, ay, a-e, ea). Other additional graphemes listed are au/aw, er/ir/ur, ew/ue/ue, ie/igh, oa, ou/ow, oy and air).

9. What is the pass mark for the phonics screening check?
In 2013 and 2014 the pass mark was 32 words read correctly out of the 40 words. This year the pass mark will be announced after the phonics check takes place.

Phonics screening check materials from 2014

More information can be found on the Phonics Screening Check at

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