Technical pre-tests of key stage 1 phonics screening check test materials

Privacy notice

What are the purposes and aims of the project?

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has been commissioned by the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) to trial test materials for the key stage 1 phonics screening check (PSC).

As part of that process we are asking a number of schools to trial new phonics screening check tests. The trial is aimed at testing the performance of individual questions rather than the performance of any pupil, and means that schools can have confidence that the tests function appropriately for pupils and that the results will be valid and reliable.

How have schools been selected to take part?

The schools have been randomly selected by the STA and make up a nationally representative sample. If your school has been selected we will have written to your headteacher and if your school is LA maintained or is part of a multi-academy trust (MAT), we will have informed your LA or MAT that your school has been selected.

Is participation in these tests required?

Since 2016, participation in all these trials is statutory. For more information on the guidance, please visit

What does being selected to take part involve?

Your school will be asked to trial tests for the key stage 1 phonics screening check.

We will arrange for a representative from NFER to come to your school to administer the tests to a sample of pupils from year 1. The tests should be given to children that will be entered for the key stage 1 phonics screening check in June 2022.

The date of the trialling will be arranged at your convenience within the testing period 13 June to 24 June 2022.

Each pupil will take one test, lasting 10 minutes. The test will be administered by a member of school staff known to the pupil. At the end of the administration, they will be asked to complete a short questionnaire giving their opinions on the content of the tests.

How will my school benefit from being selected for the trials?

Your involvement in this trial is an excellent opportunity for children to practise and for your feedback to be considered in the development of future assessments. Regrettably we are unable to give feedback to the schools who take part in the development of tests however, participating children will receive a pencil and certificate to acknowledgment their help with these trials.

How will NFER use and protect the data collected from my school?

STA will provide NFER with the autumn 2021 census data containing a list of your year 1 pupils’ names and background data (date of birth, gender, UPN, SEN and language provision). Once we have received your reply, we will upload the pupil data to our secure school portal ask you to identify any pupils who have left the school or who are ineligible to complete the live phonics screening check this academic year. We will also ask you to check and, if required, update the background data and indicate if any pupils require modified versions of the tests (enlarged and coloured copies are provided for trialling). You will also be asked to add names and background data for any new pupils. Once the trial is complete NFER will provide STA with the updated pupil data, the scores derived from NFER’s marking/coding of the tests, as well as the scanned images of the test booklets completed by your pupils.

Please note that the data and scanned images will be maintained as strictly confidential by NFER and will be passed to STA, the Data Controller, for the purposes of informing the analysis of the test results and ensuring that the tests are operating appropriately for all pupils. No individual school or pupil will be identified by NFER or STA in any report arising from the trial. For more details about the use of data for this trial please refer to the Privacy Notice which is available here.

Who can you contact for more information?

Our aim is that your experience of taking part in the trial is a positive one and we are on hand to support you throughout if required. Please feel free to contact our team email, [email protected], with any queries, or if you require further information.