Phonics Screening - The Pilot

Make Phonics Fun

About the Phonics Screening Pilot

The Department of Education invited a representative sample of schools to take part in the Phonics Screening Check pilot. Consequently, the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check was piloted in approximately 300 schools in June 2011. Each school in the pilot administered a version of the phonics screening check to their pupils in Year 1.

The pilot was independently evaluated by Sheffield Hallam University. The evaluation looked at the process of administering the screening check, in particular whether the assessment is manageable for schools and appropriate for Year 1 pupils. Scores were collected by the Department of Education. The results from the pilot will be used to determine the reliability of the assessment and to design screening checks for future years.

Phonics Screening Pilot Design

The screening check used in the pilot was a list of 40 words, which pupils read one-to-one with a teacher they knew. Half the words were real and the other half were pseudo or non-words. (Pupils who can read pseudo words should have the skills to decode any unfamiliar word.) Non-words were included in the pilot to make sure the check assessed phonic decoding as intended. As pseudo words are new to all pupils, they do not favour pupils with a good vocabulary knowledge or large visual memory of words.

(Source:  Department of Education website)


- Watch the Department of Education's Teacher Training Video
- See also LCP's Make Phonics Fun series of resources


Other helpful information about the Phonics Screening Check:


  1. Phonics Screening - What is it?
  2. Phonics Screening Preparation
  3. Phonics Screening Teacher Training Video
  4. Why use Pseudo Words?
  5. Help with Pseudo / Non-Words
  6. Phonics Screening and SEN
  7. Phonics Screening Resources
  8. Phonics Screening - The Pilot
  9. What Pilot schools have to say
  10. Further information - Department of Education FAQs

Related teaching resources

  • Make Phonics Fun - Summer topics
  • Phonics Planning 3rd edition cover
  • Phonic Families book and CD
  • Phonics to Spelling CD