How local authorities should collect phonics screening check data from all local-authority-maintained schools, academies and free schools.

The 2021 national curriculum assessments, including the phonics screening check for year 1 pupils, have been cancelled.

The phonics screening check data collection is an annual statutory data collection that takes place each June. Local authorities must complete statutory data collections by law unless there’s a very good reason not to.

In the 2020 to 2021 academic year only, schools must administer a past version of the check to year 2 pupils during the second half of the 2020 autumn term. This is due to the cancellation of the phonics screening check in June 2020. Schools should return results to DfE through their local authority.

Phonics teaches people to read by relating sounds with letters and words. The phonics screening check is designed to check whether pupils understand phonics to an appropriate standard.

You must submit phonics screening check assessment data for year 1 pupils in all:

  • schools maintained by the local authority
  • academies
  • free schools
  • special schools (schools for children with special educational needs or disabilities)

Important dates

Dates for the 2020 data collection:

  • collection opens – Monday 7 December 2020
  • deadline for submitting data – Friday 22 January 2021

Submit your data

You’ll need to:

  • register and log in with DfE Sign-in
  • use COLLECT to submit your data

Please contact your school or local authority approver, if:

  • you want to request a DfE Sign-in username or password so you can access COLLECT
  • ‘phonics screening check data’ is not on the list of collections you can see in COLLECT

Get help using DfE Sign-in

If you do not know who your approver is, please use the DfE Sign-in request form.

If you’ve forgotten your password, use DfE Sign-in to reset it. You will need to click ‘start now’ and then the ‘I’ve forgotten my password’ link.

Note that we’ll only be able to change the status of your data submission to ‘authorised’ once you’ve cleared all errors in the data in COLLECT.

2020 collection documents

The following guides will help you complete the 2020 return:

2021 collection documents

Do you need help?

Submitting data

Please use the service request form if you have any questions about your data. We aim to answer your question within 5 working days.


Please use the feedback form if you have any comments about our data collection service, including COLLECT and the helpdesk service.

Published 25 March 2014
Last updated 25 January 2021 + show all updates

  1. Added information about the cancellation of the 2021 phonics screening check.

  2. Added ‘Phonics screening data collection 2021: technical specification’.

  3. Added a link to the phonics screening check data collection 2020 guide.

  4. Added information on the additional data collection required for 2020, and the updated opening and deadline dates.

  5. Added deadlines for 2020 and added 2020 technical specification.

  6. Added link to Phonics screening check data collection guide 2019.

  7. Updated the information under ‘Important dates’. Replaced link to ‘technical specification’.

  8. Updated ‘Submit your data section’ and DfE Sign-in help links.

  9. Updated COLLECT link from secure access to DfE sign in.

  10. Added link to Phonics screening check data collection guide 2018.

  11. Updated information for 2018 phonics screening check data collection.

  12. Added a link to the ‘Phonics screening check data collection 2017: guide’.

  13. Updated information for 2017 phonics screening check data collection.

  14. Added link to the 2016 COLLECT guide.

  15. Added a link to the ‘Phonics screening check data collection 2016: guide’.

  16. Added dates for the 2016 collection and a link to the technical specification.

  17. Added link to ‘Phonics screening check data collection 2015: COLLECT guide’.

  18. Added the ‘Phonics screening check data collection 2015: guide’.

  19. Corrected ‘deadline for returns’ date.

  20. Updated deadlines for 2015 and added technical specification for 2015 data collection.

  21. Added links to phonics screening check data collection guide, COLLECT guide and input sheet for 2014.

  22. Link to ‘Phonics screening check data collection 2014 technical specification’ doc added.

  23. First published.