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Maple Cross JMI & Nursery


Curriculum Leader: Emma Bailey

Phonics 1:1 tutor: Ann McGeough

The Phonics Curriculum at Maple Cross – 2020 and beyond


At Maple Cross School, early reading through our systematic, synthetic phonics approach, Read Write Inc, is a  core priority. 

We recognise that reading unlocks opportunities in all areas of the curriculum which is why the teaching and learning of phonics is of such importance.

To find out more about our phonics programme, click here.

Year 1 Phonics Screening Check

What is the Year 1 phonics screening check?

The phonics screening check is taken individually by all children in Year 1 in England, and is usually taken in June. It is designed to give 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 is in the phonics screening check?

There are two sections in this 40-word check and it assesses phonics skills and knowledge learned through Reception and Year 1. Your child will read up to four words per page and will usually do the check-in one sitting, taking around five to ten minutes.

You can download a copy of historic tests via the internet and the DfE website.

What sort of check is it and is it compulsory?

It is a school-based check to make sure that your child receives any additional support promptly, should they need it. It is not a stressful situation as the teacher will be well-equipped to listen and understand your child’s level of skills. Every child in England reads the same words.

There will be a few practice words first to make sure your child understands the activity.

What does it check?

It checks that your child can:

  • Sound out and blend graphemes in order to read simple words.
  • Read phonically decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words, e.g. cat, sand, windmill.
  • Read a selection of nonsense words which are referred to as pseudo words.

What are nonsense or pseudo words and why are they included?

These are words that are phonically decodable but are not actual words with an associated meaning e.g. brip, snorb. Pseudo words are included in the check specifically to assess whether your child can decode a word using phonics skills and not their memory.

The pseudo words will be shown to your child with a picture of a monster and they will be asked to tell their teacher what sort of monster it is by reading the word. Crucially, it does not provide any clues, so your child just has to be able to decode it.

How will my child be scored? Is there a pass mark?

If children do not reach the required standard, then the teacher will be in touch to discuss plans and offer additional, tailored support to ensure that your child can catch up. Children progress at different speeds so not reaching the threshold score does not necessarily mean there is a serious problem. Your child will re-sit the check, the following summer term when they are in Year 2.

The test is out of 40 and a score of 32 or higher is usually a pass mark.

What happens to the results?

We report your child’s results to you by the end of the summer term as well as to the local authority, but the results won’t be published in a league table as with Year 6 SATs. If you have any concerns, do talk to your child’s class teacher or our phonics lead.

Do all schools and children have to participate?

All schools and academies in England must take part in the phonics screening check.

What can I do to help my child?

Check with your child’s teacher if there are any particular areas that you should focus on at home so that you are working together to support your child and enjoy the pleasure of reading together every day.

What should I do if my child is struggling to decode a word?

  • Say each sound in the word from left to right.
  • Blend the sounds by pointing to each letter, i.e. /b/ in bat, or letter group, i.e. /igh/ in sigh, as you say the sound, then run your finger under the whole word as you say it.
  • Talk about the meaning if your child does not understand the word they have read.
  • Work at your child’s pace.
  • Always be positive and give lots of praise and encouragement.


Click here for a copy of the complex speed chart. Within classes the children use a complex speed chart to support their spelling and reading. This chart includes variations of the different consonant and vowel sounds found in words.