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What is Phonics?

Phonics is the systematic teaching of the sounds, or 'phonemes', that accompany the written letters ('graphemes') in English. It is designed to teach children to become confident and fluent readers by the end of Year 2.

We follow 'Letters and Sounds', a document published by the Department for Education. It is broken down into 6 parts, or 'phases'.

  • Phase 1 is completed in Nursery and focuses on sounds in the environment, instrumental sounds, body sounds, voice sounds and rhythm.
  • Phase 2 begins in Reception. Children are taught 19 letters of the alphabet along with the sound that goes with them.
  • Phase 3 is also started in Reception. During this phase, the remaining 7 letters of the alphabet and their sounds are taught. Digraphs (where two letters make one sound) eg. /sh/ and /ch/ are taught in this phase for the remaining sounds in the English language.
  • During Phase 4, children are taught to segment (break down) and blend (read fluently) longer words. Phase 4 is a chance for children to practise and apply the phonics skills they have already learnt.
  • Phase 5 is taught throughout Year 1 and focuses on different ways of spelling the same sound eg. /oi/ and /oy/ and different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know eg. /ear/ in 'hear' and /ear/ in 'bear'.
  • Phase 6 is taught throughout Year 2. This phase focuses on consolidating all of the other phases, as well as introducing 'rules' for reading and spelling, such as prefixes, suffixes and when to double or drop a letter.

How we teach phonics

All children in Early Years and Key Stage 1 have a 30 minute phonics session every day where they are introduced to new sounds and practise the sounds that they are unfamiliar with.

During Reception, children take part in lots of phonic based activities through the day as well as in the discrete 30 minute daily sessions. In Key Stage 1 phonics is also revised and applied through handwriting and English lessons. Children will learn sayings and actions with each phoneme to support learning and memory. Phonics is a key part of early school life and is monitored and assessed continually. 

The children are also taught in groups according to which phase they are on within their year group. When the children have finished the Phonics Programme they move onto Support for Spelling in Year 2 which includes the teaching of grammar, punctuation and spelling.

Children are given consolidation and extension opportunities during phonics times to work in the phase that best suits their ability so that all children are supported and challenged to achieve the best phonics learning they can.