Academic year 2022/23

Key stage 1 and phonics screening check attainment

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Introduction

This publication provides the attainment of pupils in the 2023 phonics screening check and key stage 1 (KS1) national curriculum teacher assessments (TA). 

It includes statistics for pupils in schools in England:

  • at national level, broken down by the following pupil characteristics: gender, disadvantage, free school meal eligibility, ethnicity, special educational need status, first language and month of birth;
  • at national level, broken down by the following school characteristics: school type, school phase, cohort size and school religious character;
  • at regional and local authority level, broken down by gender.

Pupils take the phonics screening check at the end of year 1, typically aged 6. Pupils who do not meet the expected standard take the check again at the end of year 2, typically aged 7. 

Pupils are assessed at the end of key stage 1 (year 2) in reading, writing, maths and science.

There were no assessments in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. 

End of KS1 assessments will become non-statutory from the 2023/24 academic year onwards. Optional assessments will still be offered, but these statistics will not be published in 2023/24. The phonics screening check attainment section of this publication will continue to be published to the same schedule. 

All gaps and percentage point differences are calculated from unrounded figures.


Headline facts and figures - 2022/23

These statistics cover the attainment of year 1 and year 2 pupils who took these assessments in summer 2023. Year 2 pupils experienced disruption to their learning during the pandemic. On-site attendance was limited to children of key workers and vulnerable children in January and February of their first year of school, with attendance mandatory except for self-isolating pupils for the remainder of the year.  

Attainment in the phonics screening check has increased compared to 2022

79% of pupils met the expected standard in the phonics screening check in year 1, up from 75% in 2022.

89% of pupils met the expected standard in the phonics screening check by the end of year 2, up from 87% in 2022.

Attainment at key stage 1 has increased  in all subjects compared to 2022

68% of pupils met the expected standard in reading, up from 67% in 2022.

60% of pupils met the expected standard in writing, up from 58% in 2022.

70% of pupils met the expected standard in maths, up from 68% in  2022.

79% of pupils met the expected standard in science, up from 77% in 2022.

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National attainment in the phonics screening check

In 2023, 79% of pupils met the expected standard in year 1, up from 75% in 2022. Previously, the proportion of pupils who met the standard in year 1 increased year-on-year from 58% in 2012 to 82% in 2018, remained stable at 82% in 2019, then decreased to 75% in 2022. 

The percentage of pupils who met the expected standard in the phonics screening check by the end of year 2 was 89% in 2023, up from 87% in 2022. Previously, the proportion of pupils who met the expected standard by the end of year 2 had remained broadly stable between 2016 and 2019, then decreased to 87% in 2022. 

About the phonics screening check

The phonics screening check is a statutory assessment for year 1 pupils (typically aged 6) that confirms whether they have met the expected standard in phonic decoding. All state-funded schools with a year 1 cohort must administer the check. Pupils who do not meet the standard in year 1 or were not checked, must take part in the check at the end of year 2 (typically aged 7). Teachers administer the check one-on-one with each pupil and record whether their response to each of the 40 words is correct. Each pupil is awarded a mark between 0 and 40. 

In 2023, as in previous years, the threshold to determine whether a pupil had met the expected standard is 32. Since 2014, this threshold mark has not been communicated to schools until after the screening check has been completed, however its year-on-year stability means it is predictable.

Phonics attainment by pupil characteristics

This section looks at attainment in year 1 in the phonics screening check by gender, disadvantage, special educational need (SEN) provision, first language, ethnicity and month of birth. Further information is available in the underlying data, including attainment by free school meal eligibility and SEN primary type of need, and attainment in the phonics screening check by the end of year 2.

Attainment by gender

Attainment in the phonics screening check has increased compared to 2022 for both boys and girls. The proportion of pupils meeting the expected standard in year 1 increased from 72% to 76% for boys and 79% to 82% for girls.

More girls continue to meet the phonics standard in year 1 than boys. The gender attainment gap is 7 percentage points in 2023, unchanged from 2022. The gender gap has remained broadly stable since the check was introduced in 2012, when the gap was 8 percentage points.

Attainment by disadvantage status

Attainment in the phonics screening check has increased compared to 2022 for both disadvantaged pupils and other pupils. Attainment of the expected standard in the phonics screening check in year 1 increased from 62% to 67% for disadvantaged pupils and from 80% to 83% for other pupils. This gives a gap of 16 percentage points, down from 17 percentage point in 2022, but up from 14 percentage points in 2019. This decrease in the gap is due to a larger increase in attainment compared to 2022 for the disadvantaged group. 

The proportion of eligible year 1 pupils classified as disadvantaged decreased from 24% in 2012 to 19% in 2019, before increasing to 23% in 2022 and 2023. 

Definition of disadvantage

Disadvantaged pupils are those known to be eligible for free school meals (FSM) prior to the assessment in year 1 (i.e. not including nursery or reception), have been in the care of the local authority for 1 day or more in the last year or have left local authority care in England and Wales through adoption, a special guardianship order, a residence order or a child arrangements order.

Attainment by Special Educational Need (SEN) status

In 2023, 42% of pupils with SEN met the expected standard in the phonics screening check in year 1, compared with 38% of pupils with SEN in 2022. Among pupils with SEN, 48% of those on SEN support and 20% of those with with an Education, Health and Care plan met the expected standard.

In 2023, 15% of pupils in year 1 had a special educational need (SEN). SEN pupils either have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan or receive SEN support. In 2023, 3% of pupils in year 1 had an EHC plan and 11% were on SEN support.

Attainment by first language 

Attainment in the phonics screening check has increased compared to 2022 for both pupils whose first language is English and those with a first language other than English. Attainment of the expected standard in the phonics screening check in year 1 increased from 76% to 80% for pupils whose first language is English and from 75% to 78% for pupils whose first language is other than English. 

In 2022, there was a small gap in attainment in the phonics screening check between pupils with a first language of English and those with a first language other than English (1 percentage point). The attainment of pupils with a first language of English increased slightly more than those with a first language other than English, leading to a 2 percentage point gap in 2023.

The proportion of year 1 pupils with a first language other than English was 21% in 2023, up slightly from 20% in 2019 and 2022.

Attainment by ethnicity

Attainment in the phonics screening check varies by pupil ethnicity.

In 2023, attainment in the phonics screening check increased compared to 2022 for pupils of all ethnicities.

As in 2022, Chinese pupils were the highest achieving group in 2023 (88% met the expected standard), followed by Indian pupils (85%) and Mixed White and Asian pupils (85%). Traveller of Irish heritage pupils were the lowest performing group (40% met the expected standard), followed by Gypsy/Roma pupils (44%).

Following feedback from users, the Office for National Statistics updated their guidelines on ethnic groups. We have therefore included Chinese pupils in the Asian ethnic group in this publication since 2022. This was a change from previous years when Chinese pupils were reported separately. This change has been backdated to 2016 to allow comparisons over time. Figures for Chinese pupils only are still available via the table tool (within subject 'Phonics screening check attainment in year 1 by pupil characteristics') and the data file ‘phonics_y1_national_pupil_characteristics_2012_to_2023_provisional.csv’

Attainment by month of birth

Attainment in the phonics screening check is higher among pupils born earlier in the academic year (older pupils) than those born later (younger pupils).

As in previous years, pupils born in September were the highest performing group (85% met the expected standard in year 1, up from 83% in 2022), while pupils born in August were the lowest performing group (72% met the expected standard in year 1, up from 67% in 2022). This larger increase in attainment compared to 2022 for pupils born in August has reduced the gap between September born children and August born children. This gap was 14 percentage points in 2023, compared to 16 percentage points in 2022 and 14 percentage points in 2019. 

Phonics attainment by school characteristics

Further information is available via the table tool and data files, including attainment by phase and school religious character.

Attainment by school type

There were 15,891 state-funded mainstream primary schools with year 1 phonics screening check results in 2023. 

In recent years there have been substantial changes to the makeup of school types in England. The proportion of LA maintained schools with phonics results decreased from 83% in 2016 to 60% in 2023. There have been corresponding increases in the proportion of sponsored and converter academies to 10% and 29% respectively. It should be noted that the conversion of schools from one type to another means that the headline figures capture not only change in performance but also change in school type. While the number of free schools with phonics results has increased to 287, free schools make up a very small proportion of schools. 

Similar to 2022, attainment levels in mainstream academies and free schools as a group in 2023 is broadly similar to those in local authority maintained mainstream schools.

Among academies, converter academies had a broadly similar proportion of pupils meeting the expected standard as all state-funded mainstream schools. Attainment in sponsored academies is below the average for state-funded mainstream schools.

Phonics attainment by region and local authority

This section includes phonics year 1 attainment at regional and local authority level. Further information is available in the underlying data, including phonics year 1 and by the end of year 2 attainment at regional and local authority level by pupil characteristics.

Attainment by region

Attainment in the phonics screening check has increased in every region compared to 2022. However, attainment remains below 2019 levels for every region.  

London was the highest performing region in 2023, as in previous years, with 81% of pupils meeting the expected standard. This was up from 78% in 2022 but down from 84% in 2019. 

In all other regions, attainment at the expected standard was between 78% and 79%. The lowest performing regions were the the East of England, the North West,  the West Midlands and the North East. The lowest performing regions in 2022 were the North West and East of England. 

Attainment by local authority

The map below shows the percentage of pupils meeting the expected standard in the phonics screening check in year 1 by local authority. This map shows a complex picture of attainment across England, with a range of high and low attainment in different areas.

Attainment in year 1 in the phonics screening check was highest in Wokingham (87%) and Richmond upon Thames (87%) in 2022. Wokingham saw an increase in attainment of 5 percentage points compared to 2022, and 3 percentage points compared to 2019, whilst Richmond upon Thames saw an increase of 3 percentage points compared to 2022 and now has the same level of attainment as 2019.  

Attainment was lowest in Newcastle upon Tyne (74%), Manchester (74%) and Luton (74%). However, these three local authorities saw increases in attainment of between 2 and 5 percentage points compared to 2022. 

National key stage 1 attainment

Attainment at the expected standard

In reading, 68% of pupils met the expected standard in 2023, up from 67% in 2022. 

In writing, 60% of pupils met the expected standard in 2023, up from 58% in 2022. 

In maths, 70% met the expected standard in 2023, up from 68% in 2022.

Among reading, writing and maths, attainment at the expected standard remains highest in maths and lowest in writing. 

In science, 79% of pupils met the expected standard, up from 77% in 2022. 

Attainment at the higher standard

In reading, 19% of pupils met the higher standard in 2023, up from 18% in 2022. 

In writing, 8% of pupils met the higher standard in 2023, unchanged from 2022. 

In maths, 16% of pupils met the higher standard in 2023, up from 15% in 2022.

Among reading, writing and maths, attainment at the higher standard remains highest in reading and lowest in writing. 

There is no higher standard for science.

Teacher assessment judgments in reading, writing, maths and science are reported for each pupil at the end of key stage 1 (typically aged 7). Teacher assessments are based on a broad range of evidence from across the curriculum and knowledge of how a pupil has performed over time and in a variety of contexts. Pupils are required to take tests in reading and maths at the end of key stage 1, however teacher assessment is the only data used and reported by the Department for Education. 

New key stage 1 assessments were introduced in 2016 to assess the new, more challenging, national curriculum and the expected standard was raised. As a result, figures from 2016 onwards are not comparable to earlier years. Changes to the 2018/19 reading, maths and science TA frameworks mean judgements made in these subjects are not directly comparable to previous years. Changes made within the 2017/18 writing TA frameworks mean judgements in 2018 are not directly comparable to previous years. 

Key stage 1 attainment by pupil characteristics

This section includes KS1 attainment by gender, disadvantage, special educational need (SEN) provision, month of birth and first language. Further information is available in the data files, including attainment by free school meal eligibility. 

Attainment by gender 

Attainment at key stage 1 has increased compared to 2022 for both boys and girls in all subjects.

In reading, attainment increased from 63% to 65% for boys and from 71% to 72% for girls. 

In writing, attainment increased from 52% to 54% for boys and from 64% to 66% for girls. 

In maths, attainment increased from 68% to 71% for boys and from 67% to 70% for girls. 

As in 2022, more girls met the expected standard than boys in reading and writing, while more boys reached the expected standard than girls in maths. This is a change from 2019 when more girls reached the expected standard than boys in all three subjects. The gender attainment gap is largest in writing, at 12 percentage points. 

Attainment by disadvantage status

Attainment has increased in 2023 compared to 2022 for both disadvantaged pupils and all other pupils in all subjects. The attainment of disadvantaged pupils has increased more than for other pupils in all subjects, closing the disadvantage attainment gap.

In reading, attainment increased from 51% to 54% for disadvantaged pupils and from 72% to 73% for other pupils. 

In writing, attainment increased from 41% to 44% for disadvantaged pupils and from 63% to 65% for other pupils.

In maths, attainment increased from 52% to 56% for disadvantaged pupils and from 73% to 75% for other pupils.

The proportion of year 2 pupils classified as disadvantaged decreased from 25% in 2016 to 21% in 2019, before increasing again to 25% in 2022 and 26% in 2023.

Definition of disadvantage

Disadvantaged pupils are those known to be eligible for free school meals (FSM) prior to the assessment in years 1 or 2 (i.e. not including nursery or reception), have been in the care of the local authority for 1 day or more in the last year or have left local authority care in England and Wales through adoption, a special guardianship order, a residence order or a child arrangements order.

Attainment by Special Educational Need (SEN) status 

Among pupils with SEN, 28% met the expected standard in reading, 19% in writing and 32% in maths at the end of key stage 1 in 2023.

Of those pupils on SEN support, 32% met the expected standard in reading, 22% in writing and 37% in maths. Of those pupils with an EHC plan, 12% met the expected standard in reading, 8% in writing and 15% in maths. 

In 2023, 17% of eligible pupils in year 2 had a special educational need (SEN). SEN pupils either have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan or receive SEN support. In 2023, 4% of eligible pupils in year 2 had an EHC plan and 13% were on SEN support.

Attainment by first language 

Attainment has increased in 2023 compared to 2022 for both pupils with English as their first language and a language other than English as their first language in all subjects. 

The attainment of pupils with English as their first language has increased more than for pupils with a language other than English as their first language in all subjects, increasing the attainment gap.

The proportion of eligible year 2 pupils with a first language other than English was 21% in 2023 and 2022.

Attainment by ethnicity

Attainment at key stage 1 varies by pupil ethnicity.

Attainment has increased or remained stable in 2023 compared to 2022 for all ethnic groups in all three subjects.

In 2023, Chinese pupils were the highest achieving group in all three subjects (78% met the expected standards in reading, 73% in writing and 89% in maths), followed by Mixed White and Asian pupils in reading (76%) and Indian pupils in writing and maths (69% in writing and 78% in maths). Gypsy/Roma pupils were the lowest performing group for reading and maths (23% met the expected standard in reading and 30% in maths), and Traveller of Irish heritage pupils were the lowest performing group for writing (19% met the expected standard).

Following feedback from users, the Office for National Statistics updated their guidelines on ethnic groups. We have therefore included Chinese pupils in the Asian ethnic group in this publication since 2022. This was a change from previous years when Chinese pupils were reported separately. This change has been backdated to 2016 to allow comparisons over time. Figures for Chinese pupils only are still available via the table tool (within subject 'Key stage 1 attainment by pupil characteristics') and the data file ‘ks1_national_pupil_characteristics_2016_to_2023_provisional.csv’

Attainment by month of birth

Attainment has increased in 2023 compared to 2022 for all birth months in all three subjects, by between 1 and 3 percentage points. 

As in previous years, pupils born in September were the highest performing group (77% met the expected standard in reading in 2023, 71% in writing and 80% in maths), while pupils born in August were the lowest performing group (58% met the expected standard in reading in 2023, 49% in writing and 60% in maths).

Key stage 1 attainment by school characteristics

Further information is available via the table tool and data files, including attainment by phase, school religious character and cohort size.

Attainment by school type

There were 15,872 state-funded mainstream primary schools with key stage 1 results in 2023. 

In recent years there have been substantial changes to the makeup of school types in England. The proportion of LA maintained schools with key stage 1 results decreased from 83% in 2016 to 60% in 2023. There have been corresponding increases in the proportion of sponsored and converter academies to 10% and 29% respectively. It should be noted that the conversion of schools from one type to another means that the headline figures capture not only change in performance but also change in school type. While the number of free schools with key stage 1 results has increased to 270 from 245 in 2022, free schools make up a very small proportion of schools. 

Similarly to 2022, attainment levels in mainstream academies and free schools as a group in 2023 is broadly similar to those in local authority maintained mainstream schools.

Among academies, converter academies had a broadly similar proportion of pupils meeting the expected standard as all state-funded mainstream schools. Attainment in sponsored academies is below the average for state-funded mainstream schools. 

Key stage 1 attainment by region and local authority

This section includes key stage 1 attainment at regional and local authority level. Further information is available in the underlying data, including key stage 1 attainment at regional and local authority level by pupil characteristics. 

Regional attainment

London was the highest performing region in 2023 for all three subjects, with 73% of pupils meeting the expected standard for maths, 71% of pupils meeting the expected standard for reading and 64% of pupils meeting the expected standard for writing. In all other regions, attainment at the expected standard ranged between 69% and 71% for maths, 66% to 70% for reading, and 58% to 61% for writing. Yorkshire and the Humber was the lowest or amongst the lowest performing for reading, writing and maths. 

Local authority attainment

Attainment at the expected standard for reading was highest in Richmond upon Thames (77%), and lowest in Isle of Wight (60%) and Peterborough (60%). Attainment at the expected standard for writing was highest in Hackney (71%), and lowest in Isle of Wight (51%).  Attainment at the expected standard for maths was highest in Rutland (79%) and Richmond upon Thames (79%), and lowest in Isle of Wight (63%) and Peterborough (63%).

Advice on comparability over time for key stage 1 data

Changes made within the 2018/19 reading, maths and science TA frameworks mean that judgements made in these subjects in 2019 are not directly comparable to those made in previous years. 

Changes made within the 2017/18 writing TA frameworks mean that judgements made in writing in 2018 are not directly comparable to those made in previous years.

In 2016, pupils were assessed under the new national curriculum, where the expected standard has been raised. These changes mean that the key stage 1 expected standard set in 2016 and maintained since is higher and not comparable with the expected standard used in previous years’ statistics. It would therefore be incorrect and misleading to make direct comparisons showing changes over time.

About these statistics

This publication provides provisional attainment of pupils in the 2023 phonics screening check and key stage 1 (KS1) national curriculum teacher assessments (TA). 

Phonics screening check attainment 

Pupils who met the expected standard in the phonics screening check are those who achieved a score of 32. 

Since 2014, this threshold mark has not been communicated to schools until after the screening check has been completed, however its year-on-year stability means it is predictable.

Key stage 1 teacher assessments 

Reading, writing and maths

Pupils are required to take tests in reading and maths at the end of key stage 1, however teacher assessment is the only data used and reported by the Department for Education. 

Pupils who meet the expected standard are those who achieve a teacher assessment of 'working at the expected standard' (EXS) or 'working at greater depth' (GDS).

Pupils who reach the higher standard (referred to as greater depth) are those who are assessed as 'working at greater depth' (GDS). 

Science

Pupils who meet the expected standard are those who achieve a teacher assessment of 'working at the expected standard' (EXS). 

There is no higher standard for science. 

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