Evidence shows that systematic teaching of synthetic phonics is the best way to drive up standards in reading. Phonics is the most effective way for children to read words, and parents and the public should have confidence that children have grasped this crucial skill. The phonics screening check is a quick and easy check of a child’s phonics knowledge. It helps schools confirm what progress pupils have made.

Phonics is a prerequisite for children to become effective readers, but it is not an end in itself. Children should always be taught phonics as part of a language rich curriculum, so that they develop their wider reading skills at the same time.

Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way - starting with the easiest sounds, progressing through to the most complex - it’s the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It’s particularly helpful for children aged 5–7.

All children are individuals and develop at different rates. The screening check ensures that teachers understand which children need extra help with phonic decoding. In 2012 the check will take place during the week commencing Monday 18 June.

Visit the DfE website for more information


  • Foreword from the Minister of State for Schools
  • Response to the public consultation on the Year 1 phonics screening check
  • Annex A – Results of the public consultation
  • Annex B – Report of the pre-trialling of phonics screening check materials
  • Annex C – What is the research evidence on phonics?