Our weekly message (Friday 03 May 2024)

Friday 03 May 2024

May is the month of SATs for children in Year 6, and – like most schools – as we approach the end of the school year, there are various assessments for children in each year group. Ask your child’s teacher if you’ve any questions, comments or concerns. You might like to check out this NHS guide to help reassure your child, too.

We’re pleased that in Sphere Federation, we now have an officially trained senior mental health lead, as part of the government’s commitment to offer this training to all eligible schools and colleges by 2025. The extensive training supported the senior mental health leads to develop and implement a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing. It’s important that any mental health issues or wellbeing concerns can be addressed on a bespoke, individual or small group scale. Having a SMHL now gives us the ability to identify specific need and monitor the impact of any support or intervention.

The rest of this week’s message is about one particular assessment. It’s mainly for parents and carers of children in Year 1. It might also be useful for if you’ve a child in Year 2 or Reception.

Phonics Screening Check

The Year 1 phonics screening check is for children in Year 1, and children in Year 2 who didn’t meet the threshold in the previous year. It checks that children are on track to become fluent readers who can enjoy reading for pleasure and reading for learning.

The screening check is a way for teachers to ensure that children are making sufficient progress with their phonics skills to read words. It helps to identify whether your child needs additional support at this stage so that they don’t fall behind in this vital early reading skill.

The check assesses phonics skills and knowledge learned through Reception and Year 1.

We make sure it’s not a stressful process for each child. It’s carried out by a teacher – usually the Year 1 teacher – who will be well-equipped to listen and understand children’s level of skills.

It checks if your child can sound out and blend graphemes (letters) in order to read simple words. This includes phonically decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words, eg cat, sand, windmill. There is also a selection of nonsense words which are referred to as pseudo (or ‘alien’) words eg brip, snorb. Pseudo words are included in the check specifically to assess whether your child can decode a word using phonics skills and not their memory.

The check is not about passing or failing but checking appropriate progress is being made. If children do not reach the required standard, then the teacher will be in touch to discuss plans and offer additional, tailored support to ensure that your child can catch up. Children progress at different speeds, so not reaching the threshold score does not necessarily mean there’s a problem. Your child will re-sit the check the following summer term.

School will report your child’s results to you by the end of the summer term as well as to the local authority.

Help at home by supporting your child to say each sound in the word from left to right. Blend the sounds by pointing to each letter – /b/ in bat, or letter group /igh/ in sigh, as you say the sound. Then, run your finger under the whole word as you say it. Talk about the meaning if your child does not understand the word they have read. Work at your child’s pace. Always be positive and give lots of praise and encouragement.