Phonics results for 5 to 7 year olds

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • 82% of pupils met the expected standard in phonics in year 1 (at 5 to 6 years old) in the 2018 to 2019 school year
  • 91% of pupils had met the standard by the end of year 2 (at 6 to 7 years old)
  • pupils from the Chinese ethnic group were the most likely out of all ethnic groups to meet the expected standard in both year 1 and 2
  • White Irish Traveller pupils were the least likely out of all ethnic groups to meet the expected standard in both year 1 and 2
  • in every ethnic group, girls were more likely than boys to meet the expected standard in year 1 and 2
  • in every ethnic group, pupils eligible for free school meals were less likely to meet the expected standard than other pupils
Things you need to know

In the 2018 to 2019 school year, there were 649,152 pupils in year 1 and 665,493 in year 2.

In year 1, ethnicity was known for 98% of pupils. In year 2, ethnicity was known for 99% of pupils.

Of the pupils whose ethnicity was known:

  • 73% of pupils were White
  • 11% were Asian
  • 6% had Mixed ethnicity
  • 5% were Black
  • 1% were from the Chinese ethnic group
  • 2% were from Other ethnic groups

Results for the Isles of Scilly and the City of London are not included in local authority breakdowns as they only have 1 school each.

There were 2,359 Gypsy and Roma pupils and 650 Traveller of Irish Heritage pupils. Please use caution when interpreting figures for these groups as they are based on small numbers of pupils.

This data only includes pupils in state-funded schools.

105,516 pupils (16%) were eligible for free school meals.

School-level data is not published for phonics.

What the data measures

This data measures the percentage of pupils who met the expected standard in the phonics screening check in both:

  • year 1 (when pupils are 5 to 6 years old)
  • year 2 (when pupils are 6 to 7 years old)

The year 2 results include pupils who:

  • had met the expected standard in year 1 (in the 2017 to 2018 school year)
  • retook the screening check or were taking it for the first time in year 2

Phonics is an approach to teaching reading in which pupils sound out words and combine sound-spelling patterns.

The phonics screening check is designed to confirm that pupils have met an appropriate standard in phonics.

The ethnic categories used in this data

This data groups ethnicities from the Department for Education’s school census. These groupings are based on the 2001 Census of England and Wales, with 2 exceptions:

  • Traveller of Irish Heritage and Gypsy and Roma pupils are in separate categories
  • Chinese pupils are included in a separate category from Asian

These changes were made after consultations with local authorities and lobby groups.

Local authority data is only provided for 6 ethnic groups:

  • Asian
  • Black
  • Chinese
  • Mixed
  • White
  • Other

2. By ethnicity

Percentage of year 1 and year 2 pupils meeting the expected standard in phonics, by ethnicity
Ethnicity Year 1 Year 2
All 82 91
Asian 85 93
Bangladeshi 84 92
Indian 90 95
Pakistani 82 92
Asian other 85 93
Black 83 91
Black African 85 92
Black Caribbean 80 90
Black other 82 91
Chinese 91 96
Mixed 84 92
Mixed White/Asian 87 94
Mixed White/Black African 84 93
Mixed White/Black Caribbean 79 90
Mixed other 84 93
White 82 91
White British 82 92
White Irish 82 92
Gypsy/Roma 43 62
Irish Traveller 42 59
White other 81 90
Other 79 88
Unknown 63 73

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity’ (CSV)

Summary of Phonics results for 5 to 7 year olds By ethnicity Summary

The data shows that, in the 2018 to 2019 school year:

  • 82% of pupils met the expected standard in phonics in year 1 (at 5 to 6 years old)
  • 91% of pupils had met the standard by the end of year 2 (at 6 to 7 years old)
  • 91% of pupils from the Chinese ethnic group met the expected standard in year 1, and 96% by the end of year 2, the highest percentages out of all ethnic groups
  • 42% of White Irish Traveller pupils met the expected standard in year 1, and 59% by the end of year 2, the lowest percentages out of all ethnic groups
  • the White Gypsy and Roma group had the biggest increase in pupils meeting the expected standard between year 1 (43%) and year 2 (62%)
  • 82% of White British pupils met the expected standard in year 1, and 92% did so by the end of year 2

3. By ethnicity and gender

Percentage of year 1 and year 2 pupils meeting the expected standard in phonics, by ethnicity and gender
Boys Girls
Ethnicity Boys Year 1 Boys Year 2 Girls Year 1 Girls Year 2
All 78 89 85 94
Asian 82 91 88 95
Bangladeshi 80 89 88 94
Indian 88 94 93 97
Pakistani 78 90 86 94
Asian other 82 91 88 95
Black 80 89 87 94
Black African 81 90 88 94
Black Caribbean 75 87 84 94
Black other 78 88 86 94
Chinese 89 94 94 97
Mixed 80 91 87 95
Mixed White/Asian 83 93 90 96
Mixed White/Black African 81 91 87 94
Mixed White/Black Caribbean 74 87 84 93
Mixed other 81 91 88 95
White 78 89 85 94
White British 78 90 85 94
White Irish 79 89 86 94
Gypsy/Roma 39 58 46 66
Irish Traveller 38 53 46 64
White other 78 88 85 92
Other 75 87 83 91
Unknown 60 71 65 76

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and gender’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and gender’ (CSV)

Summary of Phonics results for 5 to 7 year olds By ethnicity and gender Summary

The data shows that, in the 2018 to 2019 school year:

  • 85% of girls and 78% of boys met the expected standard in phonics in year 1
  • 94% of girls and 89% of boys met the standard by the end of year 2
  • in every ethnic group, girls were more likely than boys to meet the expected standard in years 1 and 2
  • girls from the Chinese ethnic group were the most likely to meet the expected standard in year 1 (94%)
  • girls from the Chinese and Indian ethnic groups were most likely to meet the expected standard by the end of year 2 (97%)
  • boys from the White Irish Traveller ethnic group were the least likely to meet the expected standard in year 1 (38%) and year 2 (53%)
  • in year 1, the biggest gap between girls and boys was in the Mixed White and Black Caribbean ethnic group, where 84% of girls and 74% of boys met the standard
  • in year 2, the biggest gap between girls and boys was in the White Irish Traveller ethnic group, where 64% of girls and 53% of boys met the standard
  • in year 1, the smallest gap between girls and boys whose ethnicity was known was in the Chinese and Indian ethnic groups
  • in year 2, the smallest gap between girls and boys was in the Chinese, Indian, Mixed White and Asian and Mixed White and Black African ethnic groups
  • among White British pupils, 85% of girls and 78% of boys met the expected standard in year 1, while 94% of girls and 90% of boys met the expected standard in year 2

4. By ethnicity and eligibility for free school meals (FSM)

Percentage of year 1 pupils meeting the expected standard in phonics by ethnicity and eligibility for free school meals
Ethnicity FSM Non-FSM
All 70 84
Asian 79 86
Bangladeshi 80 85
Indian 82 91
Pakistani 78 82
Asian other 77 86
Black 80 85
Black African 82 86
Black Caribbean 76 81
Black other 77 83
Chinese 86 92
Mixed 75 86
Mixed White/Asian 77 88
Mixed White/Black African 77 86
Mixed White/Black Caribbean 72 83
Mixed other 77 86
White 67 84
White British 67 85
White Irish 60 87
Gypsy/Roma 41 44
Irish Traveller 36 49
White other 73 82
Other 74 80
Unknown 66 62

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and eligibility for free school meals (FSM)’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and eligibility for free school meals (FSM)’ (CSV)

Summary of Phonics results for 5 to 7 year olds By ethnicity and eligibility for free school meals (FSM) Summary

Eligibility for free school meals (FSM) in England is used as an indicator of deprivation.

The data for FSM-eligible pupils in year 1 shows that:

  • 70% met the expected standard in phonics, compared with 84% of non-eligible pupils
  • 86% from the Chinese ethnic group met the standard, the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups
  • 36% from the White Irish Traveller group met the standard, the lowest percentage out of all ethnic groups
  • in every ethnic group, they were less likely to meet the standard than non-eligible pupils
  • White Irish pupils had the biggest gap between FSM-eligible (60%) and non-eligible pupils (87%)
  • 67% of pupils from the White British ethnic group met the standard, compared with 85% of non-eligible White British pupils

5. By ethnicity and area

Percentage of year 1 pupils meeting the expected standard in phonics by ethnicity and area
Local authority All Asian Black Chinese Mixed White Other
% % % % % % %
Barking and Dagenham 81 86 84 100 85 76 79
Barnet 86 89 84 88 87 87 83
Barnsley 80 95 86 100 85 80 70
Bath and North East Somerset 82 76 80 100 81 82 84
Bedford 80 85 83 100 76 80 76
Bexley 84 92 87 92 86 82 81
Birmingham 81 83 81 89 83 80 81
Blackburn with Darwen 82 84 76 86 84 81 89
Blackpool 82 90 89 90 85 82 89
Bolton 81 84 75 89 81 82 78
Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole 82 92 89 96 83 82 77
Bracknell Forest 85 89 87 100 92 84 87
Bradford 81 84 81 100 79 80 80
Brent 83 87 82 91 86 84 76
Brighton and Hove 80 77 74 79 82 81 71
Bristol, City of 82 78 79 91 82 83 66
Bromley 86 96 85 96 87 85 82
Buckinghamshire 82 85 80 78 81 82 88
Bury 82 78 75 100 81 83 79
Calderdale 83 81 80 90 87 83 75
Cambridgeshire 80 85 79 93 82 80 87
Camden 81 80 81 88 83 83 79
Central Bedfordshire 82 87 87 100 86 82 63
Cheshire East 84 90 88 90 91 84 83
Cheshire West and Chester 80 85 60 92 81 80 63
City of London withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality
Cornwall 81 94 67 88 86 81 85
County Durham 82 86 86 95 86 82 84
Coventry 80 83 85 91 82 79 81
Croydon 84 87 81 90 84 84 82
Cumbria 80 94 75 100 82 80 65
Darlington 83 77 89 100 73 84 75
Derby 83 86 86 95 87 81 84
Derbyshire 80 85 80 79 83 80 67
Devon 82 83 91 89 91 82 73
Doncaster 80 83 81 93 82 80 78
Dorset 81 76 89 86 81 81 40
Dudley 79 82 76 79 78 80 70
Ealing 84 86 84 100 88 85 82
East Riding of Yorkshire 83 93 80 100 81 83 78
East Sussex 82 90 88 78 81 82 67
Enfield 81 90 82 96 86 79 84
Essex 82 89 84 89 84 82 80
Gateshead 83 95 92 100 79 83 73
Gloucestershire 81 82 86 94 80 81 89
Greenwich 83 89 87 92 83 79 82
Hackney 86 88 85 100 90 85 89
Halton 80 100 100 100 80 80 83
Hammersmith and Fulham 86 82 87 100 86 88 78
Hampshire 83 87 87 96 84 83 74
Haringey 84 86 85 91 85 86 79
Harrow 87 92 83 91 84 84 76
Hartlepool 84 79 82 100 89 84 60
Havering 83 90 84 100 85 82 84
Herefordshire, County of 82 92 50 100 75 82 70
Hertfordshire 84 89 82 94 88 83 79
Hillingdon 84 90 88 100 88 79 91
Hounslow 85 90 84 93 86 82 82
Isle of Wight 78 87 100 100 78 78 100
Isles of Scilly withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality withheld to protect confidentiality
Islington 84 81 83 100 87 85 83
Kensington and Chelsea 85 86 88 100 88 85 80
Kent 82 87 89 100 85 81 79
Kingston upon Hull, City of 79 89 91 100 87 79 75
Kingston upon Thames 84 83 80 100 85 84 84
Kirklees 79 81 82 79 74 80 75
Knowsley 80 90 93 100 85 80 88
Lambeth 82 88 81 100 79 86 78
Lancashire 81 82 75 81 80 82 69
Leeds 79 79 79 91 82 80 77
Leicester 81 84 85 84 83 77 75
Leicestershire 83 89 92 93 86 83 83
Lewisham 81 81 79 85 84 84 80
Lincludingolnshire 81 92 88 90 84 81 64
Liverpool 78 83 85 81 83 78 72
Luton 79 81 84 100 77 77 80
Manchester 79 80 84 83 81 78 77
Medway 82 90 89 94 80 82 74
Merton 83 88 78 91 81 84 85
Middlesbrough 78 83 76 100 77 79 73
Milton Keynes 84 89 84 88 88 83 81
Newcastle upon Tyne 80 83 78 95 83 81 82
Newham 87 89 89 100 88 85 85
Norfolk 79 83 88 79 80 79 75
North East Lincludingolnshire 82 90 100 0 81 82 90
North Lincludingolnshire 82 86 64 100 78 82 53
North Somerset 84 93 75 33 82 84 57
North Tyneside 83 82 88 100 80 84 64
North Yorkshire 82 85 77 91 86 82 81
Northamptonshire 82 84 84 93 83 82 91
Northumberland 84 90 100 92 85 84 86
Nottingham 79 82 86 92 77 79 76
Nottinghamshire 80 85 87 93 78 80 81
Oldham 79 76 82 88 79 82 64
Oxfordshire 82 79 80 83 83 82 78
Peterborough 77 84 86 100 80 76 75
Plymouth 83 93 79 100 86 83 77
Portsmouth 78 81 75 86 85 78 82
Reading 83 89 84 92 80 82 76
Redbridge 84 88 82 93 82 81 77
Redcar and Cleveland 81 71 100 N/A* 92 81 33
Richmond upon Thames 87 87 76 87 89 88 80
Rochdale 78 76 76 80 83 79 74
Rotherham 80 82 76 88 81 80 71
Rutland 85 83 100 100 91 86 100
Salford 80 84 80 87 84 80 74
Sandwell 81 85 84 80 84 79 70
Sefton 83 88 93 100 80 83 67
Sheffield 77 74 80 95 76 78 67
Shropshire 81 68 83 100 87 81 64
Slough 86 90 87 100 86 80 82
Solihull 85 91 91 88 84 85 70
Somerset 81 86 88 100 80 81 67
South Gloucestershire 85 89 92 94 88 85 78
South Tyneside 82 78 67 100 78 83 78
Southampton 82 87 83 100 84 81 79
Southend-on-Sea 83 90 86 100 83 82 92
Southwark 84 88 84 96 82 87 77
St. Helens 82 85 83 100 97 81 82
Staffordshire 84 84 79 87 84 84 76
Stockport 82 82 79 94 80 82 81
Stockton-on-Tees 84 84 87 100 86 84 72
Stoke-on-Trent 78 80 84 100 78 78 59
Suffolk 81 83 86 91 85 81 79
Sunderland 81 80 87 89 81 81 50
Surrey 84 89 81 96 88 83 81
Sutton 85 92 89 95 83 83 87
Swindon 80 88 84 100 83 79 78
Tameside 78 79 81 82 79 79 79
Telford and Wrekin 84 80 86 100 87 84 67
Thurrock 83 91 89 90 87 80 71
Torbay 84 91 100 100 86 84 70
Tower Hamlets 84 84 87 100 88 83 79
Trafford 85 86 76 95 84 86 88
Wakefield 80 83 86 75 80 80 74
Walsall 82 87 84 90 86 81 71
Waltham Forest 86 87 86 89 87 86 83
Wandsworth 85 85 82 90 88 87 81
Warrington 85 94 90 94 89 85 64
Warwickshire 84 88 90 100 87 83 75
West Berkshire 82 88 87 100 83 82 92
West Sussex 81 86 85 94 83 81 75
Westminster 86 86 81 90 86 89 85
Wigan 80 84 78 100 77 80 83
Wiltshire 80 90 76 92 76 80 70
Windsor and Maidenhead 83 84 78 100 85 83 90
Wirral 82 85 100 100 89 82 65
Wokingham 84 88 93 96 89 83 84
Wolverhampton 81 85 85 86 82 79 87
Worcestershire 82 80 84 90 85 82 77
York 84 94 100 50 91 84 87

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and area’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and area’ (CSV)

Summary of Phonics results for 5 to 7 year olds By ethnicity and area Summary

The data for year 1 pupils shows that:

  • out of all local authorities, White pupils were most likely to meet the expected standard in Westminster (89%) and least likely to in Barking and Dagenham, and Peterborough (76%)
  • figures for other ethnic groups are based on small numbers of pupils, so reliable generalisations can't be made

6. Methodology

Local authorities collect phonics data from 16,400 schools and submit it to the Department for Education.

This data is matched to school census records to identify pupils’ ethnicities and free school meal eligibility.

The data only covers state-funded schools in England. This includes local authority maintained schools, academies and special schools. It excludes pupils in independent schools, alternative provision and those who are home schooling.

Some data is broken down by pupils' eligibility for free school meals (FSM). To be eligible, their families must:

  • have applied for FSM at the time of the school census in January
  • be receiving a qualifying benefit like Jobseeker’s Allowance

We refer to pupils who are not eligible for FSM (or whose eligibility is unknown) as ‘non-FSM’.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Figures for the Isles of Scilly and City of London are not included as these local authorities have 1 school each.

The Department for Education (DfE) does not publish school-level information for phonics.

You can also read DfE’s statistical policy statement on confidentiality (PDF, 194KB, 5 pages) (PDF opens in a new window or tab).

Rounding

Percentages given in charts, tables and downloads are rounded to the nearest whole number.

Related publications

Schools, pupils and their characteristics: June 2019.

Quality and methodology information

Further technical information

2019 key stage 1: assessment and reporting arrangements (ARA) – includes details of pupils who should and shouldn’t take the phonics check (page 24).

7. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Administrative data

Type of statistic

National Statistics

Publisher

Department for Education

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

This data provides results for the 2019 key stage 1 national curriculum assessments. The results are used to monitor pupils’ attainment in reading, writing, maths and science.

8. Download the data

KS1 Phonics -- National - Spreadsheet (csv) 52 KB

This file contains the following: measure, ethnicity, ethnicity_type, gender, age, FSM (free school meal eligibility), value, value_type, denominator, numerator

KS1 Phonics -- Local Authority - Spreadsheet (csv) 554 KB

This file contains: measure, ethnicity, ethnicity_type, time, geography, geography_type, geography_code, gender, age, value, value_type, denominator, numerator