What Could Replace the Phonics Screening Check during the Early Years of Reading Development?


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This article argues that the phonics screening check, introduced in England in 2012, is not fit for purpose. It is a test of children’s ability to decode words rather than an assessment of their reading skills. Whilst this assessment may, to some extent, support the needs of children who rely on phonemic decoding as a route to word recognition, it does not support the needs of more advanced readers who have automatic word recognition. In addition, for children who struggle with phonemic decoding, the phonics screening check does not assess the skills which contribute to the development of both phonological and phonemic awareness. These skills include compound word, syllable and onset and rime blending and segmenting as well as phoneme addition, phoneme deletion and phoneme substitution. This article argues that existing models of reading development are inadequate for assessment purposes and that a battery of assessments is needed to support children at different stages of their reading development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-182
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • phonics
  • early years


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