Phonics Screening Check Evaluation: Final Report

Matthew Walker, Marian Sainsbury, Helen Betts, Jack Worth, Heather Bamforth

25 June 2015

Research Report | Research Brief | Technical Appendices

This is the final report from the Evaluation of the Phonics Screening Check (PSC). The evaluation was commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) and undertaken by NFER. The evaluation ran from 2012 to 2015, and involved large-scale surveys of Year 1 teachers and literacy coordinators, case study visits to schools, and an analysis of results from the National Pupil Database (NPD).

Key Findings

  • Analysis was undertaken of national results on the PSC, together with results for the same pupils one year earlier, on the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile, and one year later, at the end of key stage 1. The evaluation did not find any evidence of improvements in pupils’ literacy performance, or in progress, that could be clearly attributed to the introduction of the PSC. However, no conclusive statement can be made because of the methodological limitations of the study; namely, the absence of a control group and the context of a number of existing phonics initiatives in national policy.
  • Phonics attainment, as measured by the proportion of pupils reaching the expected standard on the check, improved over three years and there is some evidence that this may have been an impact of the introduction of the check.
  • It will be of continuing interest to review the results at key stage 1 in future years and also the results at key stage 2 as the pupils who took the check progress through their later years of schooling.