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Phonics screening check

The phonics screening check is a short assessment to confirm whether individual children have learnt phonic decoding skills to an appropriate standard.

The 40 words in the check are split into sections progressing from simple word structures to trickier words with five or six letters. Twenty of these words contain ‘nonsense words’, alien words that have no meaning. This, in particular, tests a child’s phonic decoding skills to check they have the appropriate standard. Children are given regular opportunities to practise reading ‘alien’ and real words in their phonics lessons.

The check is for all Year 1 pupils in Maintained Schools, Academies and Free Schools. Children who do not meet the standard of the check in Year 1 can retake the phonics screening check in Year 2. It is a statutory requirement for all schools to carry out the phonics screening check. Please download the documents below to see the previous phonics screening checks.