Academic Year 2021/22

Key stage 1 and phonics screening check attainment

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Introduction

This publication provides the attainment of pupils in the 2022 phonics screening check and key stage 1 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.

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


Headline facts and figures - 2021/22

These are the first phonics screening check and key stage 1 attainment statistics since 2019, after assessments were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

These statistics cover the attainment of year 1 and year 2 pupils who took these assessments in summer 2022. These pupils experienced disruption to their learning during the pandemic.

Attainment in the phonics screening check has decreased compared to 2019

75% of pupils met the expected standard in the phonics screening check in year 1, down from 82% in 2019.

87% of pupils met the expected standard in the phonics screening check by the end of year 2, down from 91% in 2019.

Attainment at key stage 1 has decreased  in all subjects compared to 2019

67% of pupils met the expected standard in reading, down from 75% in 2019.

68% of pupils met the expected standard in maths, down from 76% in  2019.

58% of pupils met the expected standard in writing, down from 69% in 2019.

77% of pupils met the expected standard in science, down from 82% in 2019.

The 2022 Key stage 2 attainment statistics publication has been updated to include statistics that look at the relationship between attainment at key stage 2 in reading and writing and prior attainment in the phonics screening check. These can be found in the ‘Key stage 2 attainment by prior attainment’ section.

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National attainment in the phonics screening check

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

The percentage of pupils who met the expected standard in the phonics screening check by the end of year 2 was 87% in 2022, down from 91% in 2019. Previously, the proportion of pupils who met the expected standard by the end of year 2 had remained broadly stable between 2016 and 2019. 

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 2022, 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 fallen compared to 2019 for both boys and girls. The proportion of pupils meeting the expected standard in year 1 fell from 78% to 72% for boys and 85% to 79% for girls.

More girls continue to meet the phonics standard in year 1 than boys. The gender attainment gap is 7 percentage points in 2022, unchanged from 2019. 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 fallen compared to 2019 for both disadvantaged pupils and other pupils. However, the attainment of disadvantaged pupils has fallen further than for other pupils, increasing the disadvantage attainment gap. Attainment of the expected standard in the phonics screening check in year 1 fell from 71% to 62% for disadvantaged pupils and from 84% to 80% for other pupils. This gives a gap of 17 percentage points, up from 14 percentage points in 2019.

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

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 2022, 14% of pupils in year 1 had a special educational need (SEN). SEN pupils either have an Education, Health and Care plan or receive SEN support. In 2022, 3% of pupils in year 1 had an Education, Health and Care plan and 11% were on SEN support.

In 2022, 38% of pupils with SEN met the expected standard in the phonics screening check in year 1. Among pupils with SEN, 44% of those on SEN support and 19% of those with an Education, Health and Care plan met the expected standard.

Attainment by first language 

Attainment in the phonics screening check has fallen compared to 2019 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 fell from 82% to 76% for pupils whose first language is English and from 82% to 75% for pupils whose first language is other than English. 

In 2019, there was no 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, with 82% of pupils in both groups meeting the expected standard in the check. The attainment of pupils with a first language other than English fell slightly further than those with a first language of English, leading to a small gap (1 percentage point) in 2022.

The proportion of year 1 pupils with a first language other than English was 20% in 2019 and 2022.

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 (83% met the expected standard in year 1), while pupils born in August were the lowest performing group (67% met the expected standard in year 1). 

Attainment by ethnicity

Attainment in the phonics screening check varies by pupil ethnicity.

In 2022, attainment in the phonics screening check fell compared to 2019 for pupils of all ethnicities.

Chinese pupils were the highest achieving group in 2022 (86% met the expected standard), followed by Indian pupils (84%). Traveller of Irish heritage pupils were the lowest performing group (35% met the expected standard), followed by Gypsy/Roma pupils (36%).

Following feedback from users, we have included Chinese pupils in the Asian ethnic group in this publication for the first time. This is a change from previous years, when Chinese pupils were reported separately. This change has been backdated to 2012 to allow comparisons over time. 

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 15,825 state-funded mainstream primary schools with year 1 phonics screening check results in 2022. 

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 61% in 2022. There have been corresponding increases in the proportion of sponsored and converter academies to 10% and 27% 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 258, free schools make up a very small proportion of schools. 

Similarly to 2019, attainment levels in mainstream academies and free schools as a group in 2022 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 and local authority district level data.

Attainment by region

Attainment in the phonics screening check has fallen in every region compared to 2019. 

London was the highest performing region in 2022, as in previous years, with 78% of pupils meeting the expected standard. In all other regions, attainment at the expected standard ranged between 74% and 76%.

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 Hammersmith and Fulham (83%), Sutton (83%) and Richmond upon Thames (83%), and lowest in the Isle of Wight (63%) and Portsmouth (67%).

National key stage 1 attainment

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. 

Attainment at the expected standard

In reading, 67% of pupils met the expected standard in 2022, down from 75% in 2019. 

In writing, 58% of pupils met the expected standard in 2022, down from 69% in 2019. 

In maths, 68% met the expected standard in 2022, down from 76% in 2019.

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

In science, 77% of pupils met the expected standard, down from 82% in 2019. 

Among all subjects, the largest fall in attainment compared to 2019 was in writing (12 percentage points), followed by reading and maths (8 percentage points) and science (5 percentage points). 

Attainment at the higher standard

In reading, 18% of pupils met the higher standard in 2022, down from 25% in 2019. 

In writing, 8% of pupils met the higher standard in 2022, down from 15% in 2019. 

In maths, 15% of pupils met the higher standard in 2022, down from 22% in 2019.

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

Attainment at the higher standard fell by 7 percentage points in all subjects (reading, writing and maths) compared to 2019.

There is no higher standard for science.

Key stage 1 attainment by pupil characteristics

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

Attainment by gender 

Attainment at key stage 1 has fallen compared to 2019 for both boys and girls in all subjects.

In reading, attainment fell from 71% to 63% for boys and from 79% to 71% for girls. 

In writing, attainment fell from 63% to 52% for boys and from 76% to 64% for girls. 

In maths, attainment fell from 75% to 68% for boys and from 77% to 67% for girls. 

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 fallen in 2022 compared to 2019 for both disadvantaged pupils and all other pupils at the expected and higher standards in all subjects. However, the attainment of disadvantaged pupils has fallen further than for other pupils in all subjects, increasing the disadvantage attainment gap.

In reading, attainment fell from 62% to 51% for disadvantaged pupils and from 78% to 72% for other pupils.  

In writing, attainment fell from 55% to 41% for disadvantaged pupils and from 73% to 63% for other pupils.

In maths, attainment fell from 62% to 52% for disadvantaged pupils and from 79% to 73% 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.

Definition of disadvantage

Disadvantaged pupils are ordinarily defined as:  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 

In 2022, 16% of pupils in year 2 had a special educational need (SEN). SEN pupils either have an Education, Health and Care plan or receive SEN support. In 2022, 3% of pupils in year 2 had an Education, Health and Care plan and 13% were on SEN support.

Among pupils with SEN, 26% met the expected standard in reading, 17% in writing and 29% in maths at the end of key stage 1 in 2022.

Of those pupils on SEN support, 30% met the expected standard in reading, 20% in writing and 33% in maths. Of those pupils with an Education, Health and Care plan, 12% met the expected standard in reading, 7% in writing and 14% in maths. 

Attainment by first language 

Attainment has fallen in 2022 compared to 2019 for both pupils with English and a language other than English as their first language at the expected and higher standards in all subjects. However, there was little change in the difference in attainment between pupils with English as their first language and pupils with a first language other than English, and they have remained relatively stable since 2016. Attainment for pupils with English as their first language was 1 percentage point higher for writing and maths, and 4 percentage points higher for reading, than that of pupils with a language other than English as their first language.

The proportion of year 2 pupils with a first language other than English was 21% in 2019 and 2022.

Attainment by month of birth

Attainment has fallen in 2022 compared to 2019 for all birth months in all three subjects, by between 7 and 9 percentage points for reading and maths, and by between 10 and 12 percentage points for writing. 

As in 2019, pupils born in September were the highest performing group (76% met the expected standard in reading in 2022, 68% in writing and 78% in maths), while pupils born in August were the lowest performing group (57% met the expected standard in reading in 2022, 46% in writing and 56% in maths).

Attainment by ethnicity

Attainment at key stage 1 varies by pupil ethnicity.

Attainment has fallen in 2022 compared to 2019 for all ethnic groups in all three subjects; the largest decreases in attainment for reading were for mixed White and Black Caribbean pupils (10 percentage points) and for White Irish pupils (10 percentage points). The largest decrease in attainment for writing was for mixed White and Black Caribbean pupils (14 percentage points). The largest decrease in attainment for maths was for Black Caribbean pupils (10 percentage points).

In 2022, Chinese pupils were the highest achieving group in all three subjects (78% met the expected standards in reading, 73% in writing and 88% in maths), followed by Indian pupils (76% in reading, 71% in writing and 78% in maths). Gypsy/Roma pupils were the lowest performing group for all three subjects (23% met the expected standard in reading, 18% in writing, and 25% in maths), followed by Traveller of Irish heritage pupils (26% in reading, 18% in writing and 29% 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 15,826 state-funded mainstream primary schools with key stage 1 results in 2022. 

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 61% in 2022. There have been corresponding increases in the proportion of sponsored and converter academies to 10% and 27% 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 245, free schools make up a very small proportion of schools. 

Similarly to 2019, attainment levels in mainstream academies and free schools as a group in 2022 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 and local authority district level data.

London was the highest performing region in 2022 for all three subjects, with 71% of pupils meeting the expected standard for maths, 70% of pupils meeting the expected standard for reading and 63% of pupils meeting the expected standard for writing. In all other regions, attainment at the expected standard ranged between 66% and 68% for maths, 65% to 68% for reading, and 55% to 58% for writing.

Attainment at the expected standard for reading was highest in Richmond upon Thames (77%), and lowest in  Peterborough (58%). Attainment at the expected standard for writing was highest in Hackney (71%), and lowest in  Oldham (48%).  Attainment at the expected standard for maths was highest in Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Wokingham and Richmond upon Thames (76%), and lowest in the Isle of Wight (59%).

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.

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