Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language.
Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of individual letters and how those letters sound when they’re combined will help children decode words as they read.
Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing words.
Phonics involves matching the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters. For example, the sound k can be spelled as c, k, ck or ch.
Teaching children to blend the sounds of letters together helps them decode unfamiliar or unknown words by sounding them out. For example, when a child is taught the sounds for the letters t, p, a and s, they can start to build up the words: “tap”, “taps”, “pat”, “pats” and “sat”.
The Phonics Screening Check is a compulsory assessment that all children in year 1 must take. It is used to assess a students phonic decoding skills. To pass a student must correctly read around 32/40 words correctly.
The 40 words in the check are split into sections progressing from simple word structures to trickier words with five or six letters. The often confusing thing about the screening check is that 20/40 of the words that children are expected to read are ‘nonsense words’, alien words that have no meaning. This really tests a child’s phonic decoding skills to check they have the appropriate standard.
When is the Phonics Screening Check?
The check is administered by a child’s teacher during the designated phonics screening week. This is usually in June. It will be a one to one check and your child will be given some practice words first including nonsense words. The words are the same all across the country. Schools are sent the screening check through the post in a sealed box and teachers are not allowed to open the test until the start of that week.