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Build on the phonics screening test

Last updated: 10:35am 11 January 2019

We will build on the success of the phonics screening test.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.51

Our verdict

The phonics screening check for children in Year 1 of primary school was introduced in 2012. Since its early days there has been debate around just how “successful” it is, but the government has remained committed to the policy and can point to rising numbers of children meeting the required standard to back up the claim of “success”.

The 2017 Conservative Party manifesto pledged to “build on the success of the phonics screening test.” There isn’t a clear definition for what “build on” means but we think that could mean one, or both, of two things. It could refer to plans to roll out a national multiplication tables check for primary school children, in the same vein as the phonics test. Or it could simply mean the government intends to continue to administer the phonics screening test, thereby building on the success of previous years.

A government statistical report found that 81% of students in 2017 met the expected level of phonics knowledge, up from 58% in 2012 and from 77% in 2015.

We’re marking this policy as ‘done’ in light of the development of the multiplication tables check (a voluntary pilot is scheduled from April 2019) and the continued implementation of the phonics test.

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