Phonics Screening Check Evaluation

Matthew Walker, Marian Sainsbury, Shelley Bartlett, Helen Betts, Jack Worth

09 June 2014

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This second interim report sets out the latest findings from an evaluation of the phonics screening check, commissioned by the Department for Education and undertaken by NFER. The report explores the emerging impacts of the check, including an exploration of how the results of the check are being used by schools, and the extent to which the introduction of the check has led to other new work or activity. It draws on data collected from case-study interviews with staff in 19 primary schools and midpoint surveys of 583 literacy coordinators and 625 Year 1 teachers in schools.

Key Findings

  • Teachers were positive about phonics as an approach to teaching reading, and its contribution towards early reading development. In the majority of schools, however, other strategies alongside phonics were also supported.
  • Teachers were asked about changes to phonics teaching that had been made as a result of their experiences of the check the previous year. The most frequently reported change by both survey and case-study respondents was the introduction of pseudo words into phonics sessions.
  • Exploratory analysis of National Pupil Database (NPD) data suggests that most children who achieve level 2 in reading and writing at key stage 1 have previously met the expected standard on the check at the end of Year 1, but there is a substantial minority (over a quarter) who have not.
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