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© 2014 UKLA. Background: Introduced in June 2012, the phonics screening check aims to assess whether 6-year-old children are meeting an appropriate standard in phonic decoding and to identify children struggling with phonic skills. Aims: We investigated whether the check is a valid measure of phonic skill and is sensitive in identifying children at risk of reading difficulties. Sample: We obtained teacher assessments of phonic skills for 292 six-year-old children and additional psychometric data for 160 of these children. Methods: Teacher assessment data were accessed from schools via the local authority; psychometric tests were administered by researchers shortly after the phonics screening check. Results: The check was strongly correlated with other literacy skills and was sensitive in identifying at-risk readers. So too were teacher judgements of phonics. Conclusions: Although the check fulfils its aims, we argue that resources might be better focused on training and supporting teachers in their ongoing monitoring of phonics.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Research in Reading

Publication Date





109 - 123