There has been an enormous amount of interest over the past few weeks from parents looking for information on the Phonics Screening Check (test).
I have to admit to actually turning off the paid Google ad for this due to scarily high click-through rates!
The main thing to remember about the check is that the sole aim is to measure your child’s competence in decoding words – saying the sounds from left to right through the word and blending the sounds to hear the whole word.
During Reception and Year 1, your child will have been taught the basic code of the English language and common spellings of the advanced alphabetic code. If you want a detailed summary of this, see The English Alphabet Code (Author – Debbie Hepplewhite).
If your child already reads well, they will still take the test. It will check whether they are using their phonic knowledge to read words, or have learnt lots of words from memory and now have a good sight vocabulary. That is why the nonsense (or alien / fake) words are included – to make sure children actually sound out all through the word to read it. The test will spot any gaps in phonic knowledge and where additional support might be required.
There is already a lot of testing in schools, but despite this, a large number of children are still leaving primary school unable to read properly. Until now, there has not been a test for the very skill that underpins all the other reading skills such as reading fluency, reading with expression or reading comprehension. These are vital skills, and highly important so your child understands what they have read, but your child needs to learn how to actually read (decode) words first.You can only understand what you have read if you can read it in the first place.
This latest test will hopefully pick up any problems at a very early stage. All good schools will have been doing a routine phonics check, but until now it has not been compulsory.
At the end of the day, the results will show if a school is teaching children the basic skills they need to read. Can’t really argue with that can you……….?