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Carlisle Infant School

Phonics Screening

What is the phonics screener?

Every Year 1 child in the country takes a statutory phonics check in the same week in June every year. Phonics is a crucial part of learning to read and this screener enables schools to assess children’s ability to decode individual words. It is not an assessment of wider reading ability, but provides useful information about individual children’s decoding ability.

How is it administered?

The children take the check in a quiet area of the school, one to one with a known teacher. It takes about 15 minutes to complete. Our children are used to doing phonics assessments at the end of each term which are similar in form, so it is not stressful for the children. As it is a statutory assessment, we are not permitted to indicate to the children at the time whether they have correctly sounded out and / or blended the word.    

What form does the check take? 

The children read from a booklet with four words to a page, so no page looks too daunting.  A typical page at the start of the booklet might look like the left hand column below.  The words gradually become more challenging, but can all be sounded out using the child’s phonic knowledge.  As well as real words there are pages of pseudo words as in the right-hand column below. These are included because they can only be read through phonic strategies. Each pseudo word is accompanied by a picture of an alien, so the children know these as alien words.

How does our phonics teaching at Carlisle prepare the children for the phonics screener?

All children at Carlisle start our Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme from the start of Year R. This is a highly structured programme which teaches all 44 sounds or phonemes of the English language and how these are put together to form words. All children learn to apply their phonic skills to read new words. Reading unfamiliar words are familiar parts of all our phonic teaching. This means that there are no surprises when it comes to the screener for our children.          


The pupils are scored against a national standard (threshold is determined by the DfE). We will inform you of whether they fall below or within this standard in their end of year report. If your child’s score falls below the national standard they re-take the Phonics Screening Re-check in year 2. 

How are the results used?

We use the information from the screener, together with our internal Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised tracking to ensure that there are no gaps in a child’s phonic knowledge and to inform our provision in Year 2.