The Phonics Screening Check is not a 'formal' test as such, it is more a means of showing how well a child can use the phonics skills they’ve learned up to the end of Year 1. It is designed to identify students who need extra phonic help to improve their decoding skills.
Non-words or pseudo words
Non-words are nonsense words made up of the spellings (graphemes) a child has been taught and might include words like ‘vas’, ‘cheg’ or ‘shromp’. You may ask: "Is it a good idea to include them in the Y1 reading check?"
Non-words have been proven to be a very efficient way to check if a pupil knows:
a. the sounds that the letters spell
b. how to blend those sounds into words
...and that is the purpose of the check – to identify the pupils who are falling behind. Those pupils who are behind will have gaps in their phonic knowledge and/or poor blending skills.
As children become readers they begin to store words in their memory bank. If they are given words they know how to read, they will not need to use the strategy of sounding the word out and blending the sounds into the word. So, if we are trying to check what knowledge (the spellings and the sounds) and the skill (blending) it is therefore best to do so with non-words.
Help the children prepare
Download the latest winning poster of our 'Name an alien' competition and use it to help the children consolidate the phonics they have learned over the course of the year. Print out the poster A4 or A3 size. Display it in the classroom. The class can draw, name and add more aliens and display theirs alongside the poster. Every child can be allocated a grapheme, e.g. ee, ai, i-e, so that all the spellings are included. Read the funny names together with the class.
Make a card game
Print out the poster twice onto card and cut up into cards to make a pelmanism game. Make sure they read the words out when they turn over the cards to find the matching pair.