This is certainly nothing to worry about as it is designed to see if children have the skills of phonic decoding of words up to a suitable level, which will then enable them to go on to be fluent readers.
If a child does not reach the expected level, then the school can give them extra help to get them up to this level and the screening test will be retaken in a year’s time.
The test will consist of 40 words that children will read on a one-to-one basis with a teacher who is known to them. This will not be a teaching assistant as they will not have had the necessary training to judge which responses are correct. The teachers will have had training on how to go about the test and there will be some practice words to begin with. It is estimated that the whole screening will only take between 5 and 10 minutes.
Look out for made up words!
The 40 words that children will read will be made up of some real words and some ‘pseudo-words’ or made up words. The reason for using made up words is so that the assessment is purely on decoding using phonics. The made up words will be new to all children so the test will not favour those with a good vocabulary knowledge or a good visual memory of words.
Easier and harder
The 40 words are split into two sections.
Section 1 will have a variety of simple word structures (such as CVC, and CCVC words) and simple consonant and vowel digraphs (such as ch, ck ar and ee).
Real words in Section 1 might be: shin, grit or best.
Pseudo-words in Section 1 might be tox, bim or tord.
So that children will understand what is going on the pseudo words will be shown with a picture (eg of a monster) and they will be asked to tell their teacher what sort of monster it is by reading the word. Children usually find nonsense words good fun and they will probably enjoy reading these words.
Section 2 will have more complex words (such as CCVCC, CCCVCC words and two syllable words).
Real words in Section 2 might be: slide, trains or rusty.
Pseudo-words in Section 2 might be blurst, spron or stroft.
The teacher will have a simple answer sheet where they record correct or incorrect answers, plus the possibility of a comment.
The whole point of this assessment is to check that appropriate progress is being made and identify children who need extra help. If a teacher finds that a child is really struggling with the assessment they can stop before completing all the words. If your school’s Headteacher thinks there are very special reasons related to your child and their needs that make the phonics screening check inappropriate, they will decide on the action to take and discuss this with you.
You must receive a report from your child’s teacher before the end of the Summer Term.
This is a very simple and short way to assess whether children need extra help with their reading. If a child does not reach the required standard, then the school will be able to make appropriate plans to help and your child’s teacher will be in touch to discuss these plans and offer additional support to ensure that your child can catch up. Children progress at different speeds so not reaching the threshold score does not necessarily mean there is a problem.
A little extra help
As well as our great sets of phonic spelling worksheets we are also continuing to publish new spelling material to challenge older children. Our latest worksheets look at double consonant words and include ‘pp’, ‘mm’, ‘cc’, ‘ss’ and many more. Some of these words really are tricky, such as colossal, accelerate and symmetry. Why not have a look now at our spelling pattern worksheets?