Phonics Screening - What Pilot schools have to say

Make Phonics Fun

1) Using and applying phonics learning in day-to-day teaching practice:

'We’ve found that a dedicated daily phonics session from Nursery to Year 2, where phonics learning is used and applied, is crucial to children’s development of reading. However, in the first year that we taught phonics in a systematic way, the ‘use and application’ section was often missed out due to time constraints. We have found that ensuring that children use and apply their phonic skills to reading or writing whole words and sentences secures their knowledge. More importantly, it lets them understand why they are learning phonics.

'Within guided reading sessions, we have also embedded our phonic teaching so children understand that this is one of the vital tools that can help them learn to read. We have found it is beneficial to use a ‘carousel’ approach throughout the week. For example, children are supported in a structured, systematic way to read a story with the teacher. This encourages the children to use their phonics decoding knowledge in their independent reading. The next day, children revisit the text with a teaching assistant. As this is a second guided read, the text is familiar to them. They can therefore be expected to apply their knowledge to build reading fluency and comprehension. We have found that this push on reading has really helped to move children from the mechanics of decoding to become fluent and expressive readers. In addition, we have found that children are using and applying their phonic knowledge to support and enhance their writing.'

Beaver Road Primary School, Manchester

2) Regular assessment of phonics learning:

'It’s crucial that all schools realise that this is just a check, not a test, in order to identify where the children are in their learning and what needs to be done. We assess our pupils’ understanding every six weeks, taking into account our phonics programme and teacher assessment. If children’s abilities are regularly assessed and tracked, assessment outcomes become more predictable, because we can intervene straight away and support the child to next level of learning, keeping them on a good trajectory. As a result, the screening check confirmed our own regular assessment outcomes.'

St Thomas More Roman Catholic Primary School, Rochdale

3) The importance of parental engagement:

'Our school is dedicated to welcoming all parents. Parents have aspirations for their children but they need the tools to support them, so we give them the support they need. If we identify children who are struggling, we get their parents on board and make them more active in their child’s learning. For example, we teach parents and children together the hand signals to match letters.

'Our ‘family learning’ approach is particularly important in the Foundation Stage. Parents are invited in and work through phonics alongside their children, so they can see what their child needs to do next. We use the parents who are really into it as ambassadors! It’s taken three years to really get things up and moving. We now find parents are learning alongside their children and their improving knowledge of English and Maths matches their aspirations for their child’s learning.'

Cobden Primary School, Loughborough

(Source: Department of Education website)


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


Other helpful information about the Phonics Screening Check:


Related teaching resources

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