Skip to content ↓

The Good Shepherd Catholic Primary School

Following Jesus, The Good Shepherd, in all we say and do.

In this section...

Phonics Screening Checks

What is the Phonics Screening Check?

The national phonics screening test was introduced in 2012 to all Year 1 pupils. It is a short, statutory assessment to confirm whether individual pupils have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard. It aims to identify the children who need extra help so that they can be given support by the school to improve their reading skills. At The Good Shepherd Catholic Primary we already identify children and provide early intervention support with regard to phonics skills, however the phonics screening check is a statutory requirement.

Who is it for?

Year 1 pupils will take the phonics screening check in June. Year 2 pupils who did not meet the required standard will also need to take the check.

How is the check administered?

It comprises a list of 40 words and non-words (also known as 'alien words'), which a child will read one-to-one with their class teacher. Half the words cover phonic skills which are usually covered in Reception, and half the words are based on Year 1 phonics skills. The assessment will be age appropriate, with children sitting with their teacher and reading one-to-one. it should be an enjoyable activity for children, which takes no more than a few minutes.

Does a teacher have to carry out the screening check?

Yes, the class teacher will carry out the check with the pupils in our school.

Why have you included non-words in the screening check?

Non-words are an established assessment method of many schools, and are included in many phonics programmes. They are included because they will be new to all pupils, so there won't be a bias to those with a good vocabulary knowledge or visual memory of words. Pupils who can read non-words should have the skills to decode almost any unfamiliar word.

How long does the check take?

Every child is different, but in most cases the check should take less than 10 minutes per child.

What happens if a child struggles with the screening check?

The screening check will identify children who have phonic decoding skills below the level expected for the end of Year 1 and who therefore need extra help. Schools are expected to provide extra help and children will then be able to re-take the assessment in Year 2.

How can I help my child?

At The Good Shepherd Catholic Primary School we often check phonic development within our approach to the assessment of reading. This screening forms part of our overall assessment procedure. However, there are a number of things that parents can do to support early reading skills development.

  • Let your child see you enjoying reading yourself - they are influenced by you and what you value!
  • Immerse your child in a love of reading: share books and magazines with your child, take them to the library to choose bookes, read to them regularly, point out texts around you, e.g. in the street etc.
  • Make time for your child to read school books to you regularly - encourage them by pointing to the words and ask them about the story they are reading.
  • Help your child practice reading key words and sounds when they are sent home.
  • Click HERE to access a fantastic website that helps parents reinforce Phonics at home!
  • Click HERE to view the Read Write Inc Phonics Guide.
  • Remember...we are here to help your child to do their very best!

This is a helpful link to click on that will help your child practise for their Phonics screening . Below are some past tests that your child can complete at home. 


The Good Shepherd Catholic Primary School Kingsland Gardens, Northampton, NN2 7BH

Telephone: 01604 714399

Our Lady Immaculate Catholic Academies Trust, C/o St Thomas More Secondary School, Tyne Crescent, Bedford, Mk41 7UL