Y1 Phonics Check

17th May 2024

All Year 1 children in England take the Year One Phonics Screening Check. It is usually taken in June, and this year, it will take place during the week commencing 10th June 2024. The Phonics Screening Check shows teachers how well children are progressing in phonics and identifies any pupils who may need additional support so that they stay on track to become fluent readers.

Whilst it is compulsory for all Year 1 pupils to take the check, it is not a formal test and takes place in a relaxed environment with the class teacher and one child at a time. There are a few practice words to begin with to make sure children understand the task, and as it is administered on a 1:1 basis, the teacher will understand each child’s individual needs and phonics skill level.

The check takes around 10 minutes to complete, but there is no formal time limit, so children can take as long or as little time as they require. The check comprises 40 words and non-words that children will read one at a time. The 40 words and non-words are split into two sections: one contains simple words made up of 3 or 4 letters, and the other contains more complex words made up of 5-8 letters.

Non-words or nonsense words are a group of letters put together that will follow phonics rules each child has been taught. Children will be presented with these words alongside a picture of an alien so that the children think the non-word is the alien’s name. Some examples of words from the 2019 Phonics Screening Check are as follows:

  • Simple words: shop, yell
  • Complex words: blossom, thankful
  • Non-words: sut, meck

Children are scored against a national standard, and the results show whether children fall within, above, or below the standard. The pass mark is not published to schools until after the test at the end of June when all schools nationwide have administered the Phonics Screening Check. In previous years, the pass mark was 32, so in order to pass the check, children had to read at least 32 words correctly out of 40. Parents will be notified about how well their child did, but the results for each school will not be published.

If a child does not pass the Phonics Screening Check, they will be given extra phonics support in school and will retake the check at the end of Year 2.