Phonics screening check: how to carry out a monitoring visit
- Standards and Testing Agency
- Part of:
- National curriculum assessments: guidance for local authorities
- First published:
- 13 April 2015
- Last updated:
- 11 April 2016, see all updates
Instructions for local authority monitoring visitors, including the monitoring visits form.
Preparing for a monitoring visit
Local authorities (LAs) have a statutory responsibility to monitor the administration of the phonics screening check. This helps to ensure that the security and confidentiality of the check materials are maintained and that the assessments are administered correctly and consistently.
To carry out a visit correctly, you need to be familiar with this guidance as well as the check administration guidance for schools.
Your monitoring visits co-ordinator will give you specific information before each visit. Make sure you take:
- copies of the phonics screening check monitoring visit form
- information to show which check materials the school has received
- details of the number of pupils being assessed at the school including any year 2 pupils who are expected to take the check
- copies of the 2016 check materials
You must also take photo identification with you to present on arrival at a school. This can be a passport, driving license or official work pass.
Carrying out a monitoring visit
Depending on when your visit takes place you will need to observe certain aspects of phonics screening check administration to make sure the school is following our published guidance correctly. Use the monitoring visits form to record what you see. At the end of the visit you will need to meet with the headteacher, or delegated member of staff, to discuss your findings.
Visits before the check week
These monitoring visits take place during the week commencing 6 June. You should use these visits to make sure that the phonics screening check materials are unopened and stored securely, and that the school has received the correct number of packs. You can also discuss other elements of the proposed administration, such as the room(s) where the check will take place.
Your monitoring visits co-ordinator will give you details of the number of phonics screening check packs delivered to the school. Ask the headteacher for annotated copies of their delivery note(s) and details of the number of check packs that were actually delivered.
Ensure that all of the phonics screening check materials are sealed and stored securely.
Damaged check packs
If a school has received damaged check packs, advise them, if they have not already done so, to contact immediately the national curriculum assessments helpline. The school may be asked to send us a photograph of the damaged packages.
Early opening of materials
If you are carrying out a monitoring visit during the week commencing 6 June, the phonics screening check materials should not have been opened. If teachers need to make adjustments to the check so that pupils can access it, these should be made during the check period, from Monday 13 June. There are no exceptions.
Who should administer the phonics screening check
You should speak to the headteacher, or the teacher responsible for the administration of the phonics screening check, to ensure that an appropriate teacher will be administering it and that they fully understand the administration arrangements, including scoring.
The phonics screening check must be administered on a one-to-one basis by a teacher who is known to the pupil. It must not be administered by a teaching assistant, including higher level teaching assistants, because the role requires a teacher’s professional judgement about which responses are correct. The teacher must not be a relative or carer of the pupil taking the check.
Visits during the phonics screening check week
These visits take place during the phonics screening check week, Monday 13 June to Friday 17 June. You should read your copy of the 2016 check materials before the visit so that you are familiar with the words pupils will be asked to decode. This will help you to judge whether any pupils are given inappropriate assistance. Any printed versions of these materials must be kept secure until Friday 24 June.
You should arrive at the school in time to observe the complete phonics screening check administration process. This means:
- opening the check packs (if you arrive in time to observe the first check)
- administering the check(s)
- storing the check materials and answer sheets securely
You should also establish that:
- the room for the phonics screening check is suitable
- wall displays are covered up or, if uncovered, they don’t offer any assistance or distraction to pupils
- appropriate teachers will be administering the check
- the school has made appropriate preparations for submission of data
You should aim to observe between 2 and 5 checks (depending on the size of the cohort).
Confirm with the headteacher, or teacher responsible for the administration of the phonics screening check, whether any pupils will be uncomfortable being observed. It is important that pupils are not put off by the presence of a visitor. If a pupil is likely to be distracted, you should observe another pupil instead.
You should also agree with the headteacher and / or the teacher administering the phonics screening check whether your presence should be explained to the pupil you are going to observe.
What to do when observing the phonics screening check
You should only enter the room before a pupil starts the phonics screening check. This is so that your monitoring activity doesn’t disturb the pupil or interrupt administration of the check. The teacher can also explain your presence to the pupil, if appropriate.
When you observe the phonics screening check ensure that:
- it is introduced to the pupil appropriately
- no inappropriate assistance is given
You are not expected to score any phonics screening checks in parallel with the teacher administering the check. You might consider discussing the scoring decisions with the teacher, but you should not overrule the teacher’s judgement on a pupil’s responses to the check.
If you observe what you consider to be misconceptions of phonics and / or the scoring of the check, you should discuss this with the teacher after the check has been administered. (For example, a visitor may think that the teacher has not realised that an alternative pronunciation of a grapheme should be scored correctly.) You would not need to report this to us.
After the check has been completed, discuss the administration of the check with the teacher.
Storing opened phonics screening check materials
Schools must store the phonics screening check materials and ‘answer sheets’ securely until Friday 24 June. You should carry out the checks related to visits after the check week.
Collation of pupils’ scores and return of data
Discuss the arrangements in place for collation of the pupils’ scores into the data return sheets, and how this data will be provided to your LA. Where schools have already completed this task, you should make sure that the data return sheet has been completed correctly.
Phonics screening check has already been completed
You should carry out the checks relating to visits after the check period if you arrive after the phonics screening checks have taken place.
Visits after the phonics screening check week
These visits take place immediately after the phonics screening check week, from Monday 20 June. You should use these visits to discuss the administration of the check, ensure the materials are stored securely and confirm arrangements for submission of data.
Schools can administer the phonics screening check until Friday 24 June if any pupils were absent during the check week. Pupils must only attempt the check once during the check period. You should carry out the checks relating to visits during the check week if you observe a pupil.
Collation of pupils’ scores and return of data
You should look at where the ‘answer sheets’ and other materials are stored and check that they are secure. You should discuss the arrangements in place at the school for collation of the data and how it will be provided to your LA. If data has already been provided to your LA, you should make sure that the data return sheet has been completed correctly.
Completing the phonics screening check monitoring visit form
You must complete all sections on the 2016 KS1 phonics screening check monitoring visit form (PDF, 120KB, 2 pages) for each school you visit. You must answer all the questions in both sections.
Make sure you include your monitoring visits co-ordinator’s name in case we have any enquiries about the visit.
If you enter an ‘X’ or ‘N’ on the form, or if you notice any other irregularity during the visit, you must record details of the issue and any actions taken on the form. This will help us to identify instances where further investigation is needed by your LA and / or STA.
Meeting with the headteacher
Before you leave the school you should meet with the headteacher, or delegated member of staff, to discuss your findings from the visit. If you have placed an ‘X’ or ‘N’ in any box on the monitoring visit form, you should advise whether the school should make changes to its check administration procedures for any remaining checks. If you didn’t find anything that concerned you, make this clear.
You and the headteacher, or delegated member of staff, should sign the monitoring visit form. This is to confirm the visit took place and that you have given any feedback about the administration of the phonics screening check to the school.
You should leave a copy of the monitoring visit form, and any delivery notes you have annotated, with the headteacher or delegated member of staff. You must not add any additional detail or make changes to the monitoring visit form after this point.
After the visit
You should discuss any findings from your visit with your monitoring visits co-ordinator as soon as possible after you have carried out your visit.
If you have placed an ‘X’ or ‘N’ in any box on the monitoring visit form, you should discuss the issue with your monitoring visits co-ordinator immediately.
If you didn’t identify any irregularities during your visit, you must send the completed monitoring visit form to your monitoring visits co-ordinator immediately after the visit. The deadline for returning completed monitoring visit forms to your co-ordinator is Friday 24 June.
If you have questions about carrying out monitoring visits you should speak to your monitoring visits co-ordinator. If they are unable to help, you can contact the national curriculum assessments helpline.
Standards and Testing Agency
National curriculum assessments helpline 0300 303 3013
For general enquiries about national curriculum tests.
Published: 13 April 2015
Updated: 11 April 2016
- Updated for the 2016 test and assessment cycle
- First published.