Learning to live, living to learn

Phonics

How do we teach Phonics?

Phonics is taught following the Letters and Sounds scheme whilst drawing on ideas from a range of published material to support the children’s ability to remember phoneme/grapheme correspondence. Early reading books are matched to the Letters and Sounds stage the children are at, to enable them to develop a thorough understanding of the letters and sounds that they are learning at any one particular time. For those children not at age related expectations, they receive daily support using the 5 Minute Literacy Box. Children from the Early Years Foundation Stage onwards are encouraged to write using their phonological awareness, to make plausible attempts at spelling regular words and begin to spell some common exception words. The children learn to spell by segmenting spoken words into phonemes and representing these by graphemes. They learn new ways of spelling phonemes for which one or more spellings are already known. Towards the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage, children will be tested on some of the phonic spellings and Common Exception Words.

How is our phonics curriculum structured?

The table below demonstrates how the six phases of letters and sounds are organised. The sounds are taught in a particular order. These sounds are also taught at the same time as 'tricky' words which cannot be broken down phonetically. 

Phase  Phonic Knowledge and Skills

Phase One

(Nursery/Reception)

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.

 

Phase Two

(Reception) up to 6 weeks

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.

 

Phase Three

 (Reception) up to 12 weeks

The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.

Phase Four

(Reception) 4 to 6 weeks

No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.

Phase Five

(Throughout Year 1)

Now we move on to the "complex code". Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.

Phase Six

(Throughout Year 2 and beyond)

Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.
Tricky Words Tricky words are words that cannot be ‘sounded-out’ but need to be learned by heart. They don’t fit into the usual spelling patterns. In order to read simple sentences, it is necessary for children to know some words that have unusual or untaught spellings. It should be noted that, when teaching these words, it is important to always start with sounds already known in the word, then focus on the 'tricky' part.

Common Exception Words:

Common exception words are words that do not follow the common phonetic spelling rules children learn in Year 1 and Year 2. These are also called tricky words or sight words as you must learn to recognise them, and can't sound them out. They aren't decodable using the normal rules and letter-sounds in phonics. These words might also be referred to as High Frequency Words

 

Phonics Glossary: 

Phoneme: The smallest unit of sound in a word, e.g. c/a/t,  sh/o/p, t/ea/ch/er.

Grapheme: A letter or group of letter representing one sound, e.g. sh, igh, t.

Digraph: Two letters which together make one sound, e.g. sh, ch, ee, ph, oa.

Split digraph: Two letters, which work as a pair, split, to represent one sound, e.g. a-e as in cake, or i-e as in kite.

Trigraph:  three letters which together make one sound but cannot be separated into smaller phonemes, e.g. igh as in light, ear as in heard, tch as in watch.

Segmentation: means hearing the individual phonemes within a word – for instance the word ‘crash’ consists of four phonemes: ‘c – r – a – sh’. In order to spell this word, a child must segment it into its component phonemes and choose a grapheme to represent each phoneme.

Blending: means merging the individual phonemes together to pronounce a word. In order to read an unfamiliar word, a child must recognise (‘sound out’) each grapheme, not each letter (e.g. ‘th-i-n’ not ‘t-h-i-n’), and then merge the phonemes together to make the word.

Mnemonics: a device for memorising and recalling something, such as a hand action of a drill to remember the phoneme /d/.

Adjacent consonants:  two or three letters with discrete sounds, which are blended together e.g. str, cr, tr, gr. (previously consonant clusters).

Comprehension:    understanding of language whether it is spoken or written.