Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The Literacy Hub
What is phonics?
Phonics is about the relationship between sounds in speech and letters in writing. Phonics is a method for teaching beginner readers to learn the system of the alphabet and the sound that each letter makes.
Why is phonics so important?
Phonics lays the foundations for children’s reading literacy. It is a key step not only for reading but for the development of spelling and writing. Early success in reading is a strong predictor of future learning outcomes.
What reading skills does phonics teach children?
Phonics develops children’s ability to hear, identify and manipulate sounds called phonemes. This is called phonemic awareness. Children are taught the relationships between these sounds and the letters and letter patterns in written words (called graphemes). The skill of ‘decoding’ is the broad term that describes children’s mastery of the grapho-phonic system.
Is there evidence to support a phonics program?
Numerous studies over decades show that reading programs with a well-developed systematic and explicit phonics component routinely and consistently have greater effectiveness for children learning to read than programs without a good phonics component.
Is phonics the only way to teach children to read?
Phonics is essential, but not enough, to teach young children to read. Children decode words by recognising the sounds individual letters and combinations of letters make. They then blend these sounds to make a word they have mastered, and this is the first important step in learning to read. Children can then go on to confidently tackle new words and develop their fluency and comprehension. A rich and broad language program is the best way to help children build their reading literacy skills.
How can parents know if their children's grasp of phonics is progressing?
Parents play an important role in helping their children to read. Regular chats with teachers about the school's phonics program will enable parents to reinforce specific skills at home. Teachers can provide detailed information about children’s progress in phonics. Teachers and parents can also discuss the results of the Phonics Check and any interventions they plan for struggling decoders.
What is the Year 1 Phonics Check for Teachers?
The Year 1 Phonics Check for Teachers is a quick and easy way for teachers to check the phonics progress of Year 1 students. The Phonics Check indicates how well the student can identify the sounds different letter combination make. It checks the student's ability to blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word. The Phonics Check is one way to find out if the student has made the expected progress in building their reading literacy skills.
Is the Phonics Check compulsory?
No. The Phonics Check isn’t compulsory but there are many benefits for children. Teachers can check children’s reading progress and quickly implement interventions for those children who may be struggling. The Phonics Check also helps parents to know how their children are progressing with their reading and how they can further support their children in building the reading literacy skills.
What will children be asked to do in the Phonics Check?
The teacher sits with a student in a comfortable place and shows a list of 40 words to be read. Some of these words are ‘real’ words and some are made-up or ‘pseudo’ words. Using made-up words enables the teacher to find out if children are using their decoding skills and not just memorising familiar words. The Phonics Check takes about 5–7 minutes but there is no set time limit. Children can be given rest breaks if needed. Teachers are able to adapt and modify the Phonics Check for students with specific needs.
What happens after children take the Phonics Check?
The Phonics Check will provide teachers with an indication of how each student is progressing in relation to what is expected of students at Year 1. It is important to understand that the score out of 40 does not mean a pass or fail. The Phonics Check is used to gauge the progress of phonics learning and to help teachers make decisions to support developing and struggling decoders.
Year 1 Phonics Check for Teachers
What devices and browsers should I use for the Phonics Check?
For the best Phonics Check user experience, we advise using a laptop, desktop computer or tablet with the latest version of one of the following internet browsers installed on it:
I am using Internet Explorer to access the Phonics Check. It is running very slowly. What can I do?
Internet Explorer is not one of the recommended internet browsers for the Phonics Check. For the best Phonics Check user experience, we advise using a laptop, desktop computer or tablet with the latest version of one of the following internet browsers installed on it:
How can I terminate an ongoing session of Phonics Check?
You can select End session if you want to terminate an ongoing Phonics Check session. You will have two options:
- Save and exit: This option allows you to save all the student observations entered so far before closing the session. It also allows you to come back and resume the Phonics Check in future from the point where you left.
- Discontinue session: This option allows you to discard all the student observations entered so far before closing the session. This option resets the Phonics Check and allows you to restart the Phonics Check in future from the beginning.
How do I register?
To register, go to the Phonics Check for teachers registration page. Select the school you work for and set up your profile and credentials (password and username). If you are asked to select your education network, you will be redirected to that education network.
Once registration is complete, you can start setting up the classes and Phonics Checks according to your school's schedule.
I am a homeschool user. How can I use the Phonics Check?
The Phonics Check is now available for homeschool users with a departmental email address (ending with edu.au). Please contact us if you would like to request access.
For homeschool users with a personal email address, we advise you to wait for access to become available in the future. We will update this web page when the Phonics Check is open to all homeschoolers. Meanwhile, we encourage you to explore the information already on the website, as it explains how the Phonics Check benefits teachers and children.
What do I do if I receive a registration invitation?
If you have received a registration invitation via email, select the link in the email. Then complete your profile and register for access to the system.
Can I create student records?
Yes. Both you and your school administrator can create student records for your class.
To do this you will need to have the class created first. Within the class, you can add students one by one or import a student from a csv file.
Can other users in my school see my classes and Phonics Checks?
Only you, and the school administrators, can see the classes and the Phonics Checks that you have created. However, you can choose to share class information with other teachers at the school. To share a class, go to the class page and select the relevant checkbox. Other teachers at the school will then be able to see the class and associated Phonics Checks.
How can I access my classes and Phonics Checks from previous academic year(s)?
When the academic year changes, all the classes and their corresponding Phonics Checks from the previous academic year are Archived. This is done to help users start a new academic year with a clean working space within the Phonics Check application.
You can access all the classes and their corresponding Phonics Check(s) from previous academic years by selecting Archived in the search bar on the Class dashboard. There is also a user notification about this displayed on the Class dashboard and Phonics Check dashboard.
Why can't my school leaders see some of the students in the report?
Users with higher privileges than you may be able to see a student in a report if the student's Phonics Check is submitted and data synchronised to the server. Please note that your data will be saved locally in your browser if there is intermittent internet connection. You will need a good internet connection to synchronise data to the server.
Are my student records secure?
What can my student see in a Phonics Check session?
Your students will be able to see a screen with a word that is the same as the word shown on your screen. Some of the words may have a decorative monster image next to them.
Can I conduct a Phonics Check with students offline?
Yes. When you set up the Phonics Check for your class, you can choose the Delivery mode settings. From there, you will have the option of delivering the phonics check offline by downloading the Phonics Check materials and entering the data back to the Phonics Check system when you are online.
When I am conducting a Phonics Check, the words on my student's and my screen are not synchronising well. What should I do?
If you are using the QR code mode, Phonics Check will prompt you to switch to the Presentation mode when you or your student lose the internet connection. This will allow you to open up the student view in a new window on your device and continue the check, even if there’s no internet connection.
What has happened if the word on my student’s screen is not synchronising with where I am in an online Phonics Check?
If the word doesn’t synchronise on the student’s screen, check the internet connection for the devices that you and your student are using.
Can I share my class data with other users in my school?
Yes. If your school administrator has approved you as a valid user in your school, you can select Share class data in your class record. The other valid users in your school will be able to see the students and their Phonics Check results.
FAQs for school administrators
How do I register as a school administrator?
First, please register yourself as a Teacher for the Phonics Check for teachers.
If your school already has a school administrator, that person can approve your Teacher registration request and then change your role to School Administrator.
If your school does not have a school administrator, please contact us to assist you.
Can I manage users within my school?
Yes. You can manage school users, including school administrators and school teachers. To manage a user, go to 'School users'. From there, you will be able to perform actions such as adding users and changing user permissions.
Why can't I see some of the students in a report?
Teachers must submit a Phonics Check before you can see a report.
Can I bulk upload student records?
Yes. Both you and your school teachers can upload student records via a csv file to the class. To do this, you should:
- create a class or find an existing class
- select the Import button in the Manage student section
- download the template and enter or copy your student records to the file
- upload the prepared file with student records.
Can I assign or transfer a class to another teacher?
Yes. To do this, go to 'Class'. Then search for the class, and select 'Edit class'. Choose the teacher who you would like to assign the class to.
Are the student records secure?
ESA takes reasonable steps to:
- protect personal data that it holds against misuse, interference, loss, unauthorised access, modification or disclosure by utilising up-to-date electronic and physical security controls that comply with relevant industry standards and guidelines; and
- destroy or permanently de-identify personal data if it is no longer required.
What permissions do I have as a school administrator?
School administrators can do the following:
- manage school users of your school
- create classes for other teachers
- set up phonics checks for the classes
- view all of the class and Phonics Check records as well as reports that are available in your school