What is the phonics screening check and how do I prepare for it?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The phonics screening check is a quick assessment of your child’s phonics knowledge. Children are presented with 20 words and 20 non-words and will be asked to read one-on-one with a teacher. It helps schools make sure that your child is making sufficient progress with phonics skills to read words, and are on track to become fluent readers who can enjoy reading for pleasure and for learning.


When does it take place?

The Phonics screening check is for all year 1 pupils and takes place the week commencing 12 June 2017.

How can I prepare my children at home?

By practising phonics at home, children will become more familiar with letter sounds. This will help when sounding out non-words in the screening check.

There are plenty of resources available to help with teaching phonics at home from self checking flash cards to hands-on letter sound cubes. Often repetition is key and repeating activities and re-reading stories is a great way to help them gain a better understanding.

As the screening check contains 20 words and 20 non-words words it is worth practising the phonemes of non-words at home. Some example of nonsense words that you can try at home are:




Learning phonics is split into three core areas:



Grapheme Phoneme Correspondences

This refers to recognising the individual sounds that letters and combinations of letters make. Little ones are taught all of the 44 phonemes in the English language and ways of writing them down (there are around 120 ways to write them). These sounds are taught in a particular order, the first sounds to be taught are s, a, t, p, i and n.


We recommend: EI-2352 Hot Dots® Jr. Card Sets – Beginning Phonics




Blending refers to the process of sounding out each phoneme in a word until they are able to merge the sounds together to hear what the word is. This skill plays a vital role in learning to read and write.


We recommend: LER 6705 Snap-n-Learn Rhyming Pups



Segmenting is the opposite of blending. Children begin with a word and then segment it into all of the phonemes that make it up, they can write down the corresponding graphemes (written representation) to spell the word. This skill plays a vital role in spelling and writing.


We recommend: LSP 7150-UK Letters & Sounds Phase Two Interlocking Cubes


Combined, these enable children to acquire the key skills they need for reading and writing and provide the building blocks that will develop essential grammar, spelling and punctuation skills.

Some schools hold sessions for parents in the lead up to the check with handouts outlining activities that can be done at home.

Here are some examples:


Sound Buttons


This is a segmenting activity. To help children break down a word use sound buttons and draw dots underneath the letters to help visualise the different phonemes that make up the word.


Robot Voice

This is a blending activity. When speaking to children at home encourage the use of a robot voice to sound out the phonemes that make up a word. For example ‘It’s time to get your c-oa-t’ or ‘t-a-p your feet’. You can even introduce robot actions if you’re feeling dramatic!





You still have plenty of time!

There’s still  plenty of time to prepare your little ones for the Phonics Screening Check . We’ve outlined some our key phonics resources below to help you create fun phonics activities to support their learning at home!


LER 6705 Rhyming Pups


LER 5022 Alphabet Island


LER 5459 Vowel Owl Magnets


LSP 0584-UK Lacing Letters


LER 5044 Word Construction


EI-9289 Let’s Learn! Phonics


Click here to browse the full range

We hope this gives you a helping hand when preparing for the phonics screening check. If you have any handy tips or activities please share them with us in the comments.