Year 2 Phonics Screening Check

Cancellation of the phonics screening check in June 2021 means incoming year 2 pupils did not take the check in year 1. In the 2021 to 2022 academic year, it is statutory for schools to administer a past version of the phonics screening check to year 2 pupils during the second half of the 2021 autumn term and return results to their local authority.

The autumn check is intended to ensure that year 2 pupils who need support in learning to decode using phonics are not missed.

File icon: pdf Phonics screening letter to parents 2021 [pdf 103KB] Click to download

Phonics Screening Test Date

December 2021 Phonics screening check week - Week commencing Monday 6th December

Phonic Check Materials

These materials are published to help teachers and pupils become familiar with the phonics screening check, and to enable teachers to score their pupils’ performance once the check has been administered.  Please select from the documents below.

File icon: pdf Phonics Screening Check Practice Sheet 2019 [pdf 239KB] Click to download
File icon: pdf Phonics Screening Answer Sheet 2019 [pdf 111KB] Click to download
File icon: pdf Phonics Pupils Materials 2019 [pdf 1MB] Click to download

What is in the phonics screening check?

There are two sections in this 40-word check and it assesses phonics skills and knowledge learned through Reception and Year 1. Your child will read up to four words per page for their teacher and they will probably do the check in one sitting of about 5-10 minutes.

What sort of check is it and is it compulsory?

It is a school-based check to make sure that your child receives any additional support promptly, should they need it. It is not a stressful situation as the teacher will be well-equipped to listen and understand your child’s level of skills.

There will be a few practice words first to make sure your child understands the activity.

What does it check?

It checks that your child can:

  • Sound out and blend graphemes in order to read simple words.
  • Read phonically decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words, e.g. cat, sand, windmill.
  • Read a selection of nonsense words which are referred to as pseudo words.

What are nonsense or pseudo words and why are they included?

These are words that are phonically decodable but are not actual words with an associated meaning e.g. brip, snorb. Pseudo words are included in the check specifically to assess whether your child can decode a word using phonics skills and not their memory.

The pseudo words will be shown to your child with a picture of a monster and they will be asked to tell their teacher what sort of monster it is by reading the word. This not only makes the check a bit more fun, but provides the children with a context for the nonsense word which is independent from any existing vocabulary they may have. Crucially, it does not provide any clues, so your child just has to be able to decode it. Children generally find nonsense amusing so they will probably enjoy reading these words.

What happens to the results?

The children will be awarded a score out of 40.  The government set the pass mark each year but the expected standard for the last 3 years has been 32 out of 40.  The children’s results will be reported to you as parents and also sent to the LA.  If your child doesn’t meet the expected standard now they will retake the screening test in June 2022.

Do all schools and children have to participate?

All schools and academies in England must take part in the phonics screening check unless they are an independent school. There is a process in place for reviewing children with special educational needs, so if your child’s teacher thinks there are very special reasons related to your child and their needs that make them think the phonics screening check may not be appropriate, they will decide on appropriate action and discuss this with you.

What can I do to help my child?

Check with your child’s teacher if there are any particular areas that you should focus on at home so that you are working together to support your child.

Read as much as possible with and to your child.

- Encourage and praise their reading and phonics skills.

- Encourage careful ‘sounding out’ of unknown or unfamiliar words.

- Support them with their phonics homework.

What should I do if my child is struggling to decode a word?

  • Say each sound in the word from left to right.
  • Blend the sounds by pointing to each letter, i.e. /b/ in bat, or letter group, i.e. /igh/ in sigh, as you say the sound, then run your finger under the whole word as you say it.
  • Talk about the meaning if your child does not understand the word they have read.
  • Work at your child’s pace.
  • Always be positive and give lots of praise and encouragement.