Thursday, 7 June 2012

Focus on phonics - Catherine Hillis, Programme Manager

On Monday 18th June, year 1 pupils across England will take the phonics screening check for the first time. If you haven’t already heard about it, this is a new statutory check consisting of 40 words that pupils read one-to-one with a teacher – you can find out more at  the Department of Education website.

The phonics screening check has not been without controversy, receiving criticism from a collation of education organisations, alongside the NUT and the NAHT.

Whatever your opinion of the check however, what's important to us here at the Trust is that children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) get the support that they need.

SLCN is the most common SEN identified by primary schools and is a feature of many other areas of SEN, such as hearing impairment, learning difficulties and autistic spectrum difficulties. Obviously, there are implications for many children with SLCN, many of whom may struggle with the check.

But help is at hand! This week the Trust published Communicating Phonics to support teachers delivering and interpreting the phonics screening test to children with SLCN. The guide will help teachers to deliver the test this June, but also has lots of useful tips and advice to support the overall literacy development of children with SLCN.

Communicating Phonics is available at  To make it as easy as possible for busy teachers and SLTs to find the information they need, you can either download the whole guide, the appropriate section, or information on an individual SLCN.

You can also download useful factsheets with key tips for different audiences including year1 teachers, reception teachers, parents of children with SLCN, those interested in literacy development, and those who just want the key principles.

And last but not least we need your help. We want every child with SLCN to have a positive experience of the check and the best support possible in their ongoing literacy development. So please do help us spread the word to as many schools as possible!