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Holwell Primary School


Holwell Road, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, AL7 3RP

01707 323716



What is phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read and write:

  • Children recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes.
  • Children identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make e.g. sh and oo.
  • Children blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.

What is the Phonics Screening Check?

The KS1 Phonics Screening Check is usually taken individually by all Year 1 children in June. It is designed to give teachers and parents information on how your child is progressing in phonics. It will help to identify whether your child needs additional support at this stage so that they do not fall behind in this vital early reading skill. 

What happens during the check?

The check consists of 40 words and non-words that your child will be asked to read one-on-one with their teacher. Non-words (nonsense words, or alien words) are a collection of letters that will follow phonics rules your child has been taught. Your child will need to read these with the correct sounds to show that they understand the phonics rules behind them. The check will take approximately 10 minutes to complete although all children are different and will complete the check at their own pace.

What will we tell you?

We will inform you whether your child has or has not met the expected standard. The threshold has previously been 32 words read correctly out of 40. If your child does not meet the expected standard in this check, we will re-check during the summer term. If your child has found the check difficult, we will also tell you what support we have put in place to help them improve. All children are individuals and develop at different rates. The screening check ensures that we understand which children need extra help with phonic decoding or an alternative method for reading and writing.