The Phonics Screening check is a compulsory assessment that all children take at the end of year 1. It is designed to make sure students have phonic decoding to an appropriate standard. It was first introduced in 2012 and has become a dreaded term for most Year 1 teachers as from January the questions start…
'What will you get in the Phonics Screening?’
'What percentage is that?’
'What are you going to do to get them up to standard?’
The sigma around the screening check is the pressure that schools put on teachers. There is a high expectation that a large proportion of children WILL pass the screening. Lots of education professionals have expressed their views about ‘teaching to a test’ and that the screening check is just that. I feel that although it is a way of assessing a student, it can highlight gaps in knowledge and give us vital information to better improve the way that we teach.
The question is, how important is the screening check to the child?
In my class the fact that there is a phonics check is kept from the children, we teach phonics in the same way, all the way through the year and it doesn’t matter whether the check is in a week, a day or in a month the way that phonics is taught is consistent. The importance it has to a child is that gives them a solid foundation of which to progress through school. If they have passed the screening it means they have phonic decoding skills that they can use to decode most words.
The importance of the check should be to make sure that a child is ready to progress into year 2. The simple fact is, if a child can read passing the check is easy.