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Phonics screen

Published Date: 01 Sep 2022

Towards the end of Year 1, children undergo a phonics screen where they are tested on their ability to breakdown and blend words. They are asked to read real words along with so-called 'alien' words, which are nonsense words but are designed to ensure children can read them by recognising and blending the phonic sounds the nonsense word represents. Isaac has always been 'working towards' with reading due to his language delay and his comprehension skills when reading a book.

I first found out about the government-set assessment during Isaac's Education and Health Care (EHC) plan review, six months before he was due to take it. It was mentioned as a throw-away comment, and the school said that they did not expect Isaac to achieve the assessment score required to pass but not to worry as there would be an opportunity for him to retake it, and hopefully he would pass the next time. This spurred something in me that took me back to my school days, when my maths teacher said I'd never do well in maths; well I proved him wrong, and I knew I'd do all I could to make sure Isaac did the same.

The meetings rolled round to tell us more about the assessment, and practice papers were handed out. Isaac does tend to read by sight and can struggle to break down the words to phonic sounds and blend new words back together, but we practised lots at home, and his school did lots of work with him too. With the practice tests, he floated in and around the pass mark, but it became clear he could possibly pass.

When the test day came, thankfully to him it was just another practice day, and he wasn't really aware it was a test as such. Other children were visibly stressed by the test day, and that made me sad they feel pressure at such a young age.

After a couple of months, we got the results, and he had exceeded all expectations and passed the phonics screen he was initially expected to fail.

I'm so proud of how well he has done and how he has worked so hard this year. He faces challenges every day, and life at school can be tricky at times. This assessment proves our children shouldn't be written off as failing before they have even had a chance to try!

Next stop, Year 2 SATS.


Emma is mum to Isaac (8), who has a severe hearing loss and wears hearing aids. She also has Ethan (3), who is hearing.