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Phonics Teaching at West Bridgford Infant School

How do we teach phonics?

We teach phonics every day in Reception and in Year One.  In Year 2, phonics is taught where children have not achieved the expected standard in the phonics screening check in Year One. Once phonic knowledge is embedded, daily phonics lessons in Year 2 focus on the spelling of words and the use of grammar in writing.  We follow the Letters and Sounds Approach and use the actions from Jolly Phonics in Reception to teach the children the phonemes and digraphs in a fun and active way.  We are looking into following a new Systematic Synthetics Phonics teaching programme for September 2022.  


What is Phonics?

Synthetic phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write.  It is a method of teaching reading which first teaches the letter sounds (not the alphabet names) and then builds up to blending these sounds together to achieve full pronunciation of whole words.  The first stage of teaching phonics is to enunciate the sounds in the correct way. 

In order to help your child at home please see the video of how to enunciate the sounds correctly.

There are 44 sounds in the English language.  The sounds can either consist of 1 letter, 2 letters or 3 letters.


What do the children learn in a phonics lesson?

Phonics lessons teach the children the skills they need to blend sounds together to read and segment sounds in words to write.  Alongside this, we also teach the common exception words (tricky words) that are words that you can’t sound out, e.g. I, the, to, no, go.  Our phonics lessons are taught in a systematic and interactive way.


What is the vocabulary used in phonics?

A grapheme is a written symbol that represents a sound (phoneme). This can be a single letter, or could be a sequence of letters, such as ai, sh, igh, tch etc. So when a child says the sound /t/ this is a phoneme, but when they write the letter 't' this is a grapheme.

A phoneme is a single unit of sound, e.g. a, b, c

A digraph is where 2 letters make one sound, e.g. sh, ch, ee

A trigraph is where 3 letters make one sound, e.g. air, ear, igh

In Phase 2 of Letters and Sounds the children begin to learn the phonemes in a specific order.  For example, the first 6 sounds we teach are s a t p i n.  

Once the children have learnt these 6 sounds they can then begin to put some of these sounds together (blend) to begin to read small words. For example, it, in, at.

Common Exception words (also known as Tricky Words).  These are words which cannot be sounded out, such as ‘the’.

Blending is the skill that helps us read, especially when we come across unfamiliar words. It involves pushing together the sounds of the letters in the word in order to create the whole word.

Segmenting is the ability to break words down into individual sounds. We teach the children the skill of segmenting the sounds so they can begin to write.  For example, we say the word cat but say the individual sounds, c-a-t so the children begin to hear the sounds broken down in words.


What are the children learning at every phase?

Phase 1 (Nursery/beginning of Reception)

This phase prepares the children to listen carefully. 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 2 

Typically, children in Reception working at this phase

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each

(s a t p i n m d g o c k ck e u r h b f ff l ll ss) . Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.

Learn these tricky words to read: I the to no go

Phase 3 

Typically, children in Reception (consolidated at start  of Year 1) working at this phase

The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each (j v w x y z zz qu). Digraphs such as ‘ch’ and ‘oo’ representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions.

Learn these tricky words to read: he she me we be you are her was all they my

Learn these tricky words to spell: I the to no go

Phase 4

Typically, children  at the end of Reception (consolidated at start  of Year 1)  working at this phase

Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.

Learn these tricky words to read: said have like so do some come little one were there what when out

Learn these tricky words to spell: he she me we be you are her was all they my

Phase 5

Typically, children in Year 1 working at this phase

Children will learn more graphemes and phonemes. For example, they already know ai as in rain, but now they will be introduced to ay as in day and a-e as in make. Alternative pronunciations for graphemes will also be introduced, e.g. ea in tea, head and break.

Learn these tricky words to read: Oh Mr Mrs people their called looked asked could

Learn these tricky words to spell: said have like so do some come little one were there what when out

Phase 6

Typically, children in Year 2 working at this phase

The main aim for children is to develop their fluency as a reader and increase their accuracy when spelling. Children will be able to sight-read a large number of words. When coming across an unfamiliar word, they have a range of strategies to decode them. Spelling and Grammar is taught explicitly in this phase.


How can I support my child with phonics at home?

The books that we send home with children are carefully chosen to match their phonics phase. Children take home a phonics book and another book to share at home.  The phonics books have been chosen so children can practise the skills they have learnt at school, particularly the skill of blending. Children should be re-reading their books lots of times to build up their fluency.  The expectation is that all children should be reading at least 3 times a week at home.

Please see the link below on how to support your child with phonics.


What if my child is not reaching the expected level in phonics?

Our staff continually assess children’s progress in phonics and quickly spot those children not reaching the expected level.  These children will then receive targeted interventions either 1:1 or in small groups to help children build their confidence to use their phonics skills to read fluently.


What is the Phonics Screening Check?

The Phonics Screening Check is carried out at the end of Year 1.  It is a quick test carried out at school by your child’s teacher to confirm whether your child has made the expected progress in phonics.  The check only tests their skills at word reading.

If you would like to see a copy of a previous check please click below.  Your child will be asked to read the words, some are real words and others are nonsense words.