Phonics screening check and key stage 1 assessments: England 2019

Provisional information on the 2019 phonics screening check and national curriculum assessments at key stage 1.

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“The over-emphasis on Phonics has distorted the teaching of reading in schools, and has produced no discernible increase in children’s ability to read with understanding and pleasure. The Phonics Check is another example of a test which undermines, rather than supports, the principle of a broad and engaging curriculum in primary schools. The Union calls for it to be independently reviewed, so that its value and effects can be objectively evaluated.”

Free schools achieve highest results for six and seven-year-old pupils for the fifth year in a row

Free schools in England are helping give six and seven-year-olds the basic skills they need for future success, as they outperform other types of school for the fifth year in a row.

Phonics results from the 188 primary free schools in England are 4 percentage points higher than in council-run schools.

KS1 assessment and phonics screening checks released today show nationally 82% of year 1 pupils are meeting the expected standard in phonics while 75% of year 2 pupils reach the expected standard in reading, 69% in writing, 76% in maths and 82% in science in their Key Stage 1 assessments.

The statistics show:

  • 82% of pupils met the expected standards in phonics – up from 58% in 2012
  • This figure rises to 87% in mainstream free schools
  • 75% of year 2 pupils reach the expected standard in reading, 69% in writing, 76% in maths and 82% in science
  • For mainstream free schools these figures rise to 79% in reading, 73% in writing, 79% in maths and 85% in science
  • Girls outperform boys in both phonics and Key Stage 1 assessments
  • London is the best performing area in the country in both phonics and Key Stage 1 assessments

Nick GibbSchool Standards Minister Nick Gibb said:

If children are to achieve their full potential it’s vital that they are given firm foundations to build on – and that’s what these statistics show is happening. It’s particularly pleasing to see free schools doing so well, illustrating the important role they play in the system.

Mastering phonics, which provides a solid foundation for reading, along with basic numeracy and literacy, means these pupils will be able go on to apply these skills in more and more advanced ways.

It’s because of the hard work of teachers and our keen focus on raising standards at the earliest stages of education that we’ve been able to see these results.

Free schools, introduced in 2010, are funded by the government but aren’t run by the local council. They have more control over how they do things.

Phonics provides pupils with the building blocks they need to read fluently and confidently, as well as aiding future learning and giving them the tools they need to express themselves. Other countries are looking to emulate the success of this approach, with policy makers in Australia currently piloting this screening check.


The government has invested in programmes to help raise standards in our primary schools. In 2018 we launched a £26.3m English Hubs programme. We have appointed 34 primary schools who will support nearly 3000 schools to improve their teaching of reading through systematic synthetic phonics, early language development, and reading for pleasure. This is on top of £41 million to follow the same approach to teaching maths as world-leading countries through the Shanghai Mastery for Maths programme. ‎This is on top of wider changes to the primary assessment system which will reduce unnecessary workload for teachers so they can focus on what really matters in the classroom.


Main text

PDF, 1.2MB, 18 pages

Phonics tables

MS Excel Spreadsheet, 1.5MB


Key stage 1 tables

MS Excel Spreadsheet, 700KB

Quality and methodology

PDF, 831KB, 34 pages

Underlying data

ZIP, 191KB

Pre-release access list



Statistics which show provisional 2019 phonics and key stage 1 (KS1) results for pupils in schools in England at different levels, including:

  • national
  • regional
  • local authority
  • local authority district

The results are grouped by pupil characteristics which include:

  • ethnicity
  • disadvantage
  • free school meal eligibility and special educational needs provision
  • school characteristics

The publication includes phonics results in year 1 and by the end of year 2, and KS1 teacher assessment for:

  • reading
  • writing
  • maths
  • science

Please note that 2019 KS1 results in reading, maths and science are not comparable to 2018 due to changes to the teacher assessment frameworks. Results in writing are only comparable to 2018 and not previous years.

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