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Phonics screening check for student understanding of letters and sounds

Phonics is vital in learning to read. Phonics is the relationship between letters and sounds.

The phonics screening check is a short, simple assessment that tells teachers how students are progressing in phonics. It takes only 5–7 minutes and is carried out by classroom teachers with each student individually. Teachers then analyse the results and, if necessary, plan for any additional support that students might require.

Download the information flyer to find out more

You can find out more about the phonics screening check by reading the information sheet for parents/carers, families and the general community (PDF 326KB).

Families can access a modified phonics check similar to the South Australian phonics screening check. The check includes real and made-up words. Reading the made-up words shows that children can use phonics skills rather than just their memory or guessing strategies. If you undertake the phonics check for families at home you should discuss the check and results with your classroom teacher

2021 phonics screening check

The 2021 phonics screening check results show statewide improvement in the ability of year 1 students to decode and blend letters into sounds.

For more information see the 2021 phonics screening check fact sheet (PDF 588KB).

Trial evaluation

The UK phonics screening check was trialled in 56 public schools across South Australia in 2017. A total of 4,406 reception and year 1 students and 268 teachers were involved.

The purpose of the trial was to understand the usefulness of the check for school leaders and teachers with regards to their students' phonics development.

An independent evaluation of the trial (PDF 2MB) was conducted by the Australian Industrial Transformation Institute at Flinders University. The feedback from principals and teachers was positive and students enjoyed the 1:1 time with their teacher. Based on the trial's success, the phonics screening check is now used across South Australia.

2018, 2019 and 2020 phonics screening checks


Phonics Help Desk

Phone: 8463 5866
Email: phonicshelpdesk [at] sa.gov.au