Research and analysis

Year 1 phonics screening check pilot evaluation

A report reviewing how pupils and teachers responded to the phonics screening check pilot.


Year 1 phonics screening check pilot evaluation


In their 2010 document, ‘The importance of teaching’ the Department for Education (DfE) outlined their intention introduce a phonics screening check at the end of year 1 (to 5 and 6 year old pupils).

The screening check is designed to assess phonics ability and includes a list of 40 words - half real, half pseudo - which each pupil reads one-to-one with a teacher. It aims to help identify pupils with below expected progress in phonic decoding. These pupils will receive additional intervention and then retake the check to assess how their phonics ability has improved, relative to the expected level.

The aim of the pilot was to assess how pupils and teachers responded to different versions of the check and its administration. The DfE recruited 300 schools to take part in the pilot. All administered the check with year 1 pupils during, or shortly after, the week of 13 June 2011. Across the 300 schools, the pilot trialled a total of 360 words (each read by around 1,000 pupils).

The evaluation comprised 4 strands which addressed the evaluation objectives:

  • 2 surveys conducted with all 300 pilot schools
  • case studies carried out in 20 schools
  • monitoring visits to a further 20 schools
  • a survey of parents/carers

Updates to this page

Published 16 September 2011

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