Year 1 Phonics Screening Check 2013: What You Need to Know

Year 1 phonics screening checks will be carried out in the week commencing Monday 17th June 2013.  The checks will also be carried out on Year 2 children who did not reach the required standard in 2012.

Many parents are keen to understand what the checks are about and how they will be carried out – you can find a quick Year 1 phonics screening check who, what, why, where and when here on the Better Tuition website.

Find out about the Year 1 phonics screening check at

The checks have generated a fair amount of debate, especially among teachers and parents who believe that children already undergo too much formal assessment.  We precised this on our blog last year – read the post here.  Many experts feel that children are being set up to fail with a test that was too difficult for most of them.  Michael Rosen has some fine points to make about the checks and the dangers of administering a test with ‘inbuilt failure’ to Year 1 children.

When the test was rolled out nationally in 2012, the pass rate was just 58% (62% of girls and 54% of boys – quite a gap).  Only 44% of those on free school meals attained a pass mark in 2012’s Year 1 phonics screening check.  The 2012 pass mark was 32 out of 40; this year’s pass mark won’t be available until the week of the test.

Link to Department for Education FAQ here.

The DfE has also admitted that, “Setting a more rigorous standard in the phonics check…will help schools to ensure their pupils are secure at level 2 by the end of KS1.”  In other words, the Department for Education believes that the existence of a screening check with a (thus far) two thirds failure rate will force schools to drive up standards – a highly controversial statement.

We don’t offer tuition aimed at the Year 1 phonics screening check at the Better Tuition Centre in Urmston: we take the view that phonics is only one aspect of learning to read and should never be taught in isolation.  We do help Year 1 children who are struggling to pick up reading, writing or maths as early intervention is important when a child is having difficulties.

Our advice to parents is to take the Year 1 phonics screening check as it comes and to remember that children develop as readers at different ages.  In other words, don’t panic if your child doesn’t meet the ‘required’ standard.  Your child’s school will probably have sent some practice work to help them prepare for the Year 1 phonics screening check, so by all means have a look over this together with your child.

School will inform you if your child does not attain the threshold (pass mark), but your child should most definitely not be made to feel a failure.  Children learn at different rates and some take quite a lot longer than others to pick up reading: it doesn’t mean they will always be lagging behind their schoolmates.

If you are worried about any aspect of your child’s education and you would like a more thorough – free – assessment, you can call Paul Syrett or Christine McLaughlin at Better Tuition on 0161 748 3912 and arrange this.


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