Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language.
We teach phonics through a synthetic systematic approaching, meaning that we introduce our learners to sounds in a planned progression format. We deliver daily phonics sessions which follow the teach, practice and apply structure. We base the structure of our teaching on the LCP phonics scheme. We are constantly reviewing and monitoring the impact of our phonics provisions to ensure our learners are making good progress in developing their phonological awareness.
We have developed our own coverage plan (detailed below):
The Phonics Phases
Phase 1 concentrates on developing children’s speaking and listening skills and lays the foundation for the phonics work which starts in Phase 2. The emphasis during Phase 1 is to get the children attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.
Phase 1 is divided into seven aspects. Each aspect contains three strands:
- Tuning into sounds (auditory discrimination)
- Listening and remembering sounds (auditory memory and sequencing)
- Talking about Sounds (developing vocabulary and language comprehension)
It is intended that each of the first six aspects should be taught in sequence and then revised regularly throughout the teaching phase 1. This creates a balance of taught subjects across the teaching of phase 1.
Aspect 1 – General sound discrimination – environmental
The aim of this aspect is to raise children’s awareness of the sounds around them and to develop their listening skills. Activities suggested in the guidance include going on a listening walk, drumming on different items outside and comparing the sounds, playing a sounds lotto game and making shakers.
Aspect 2 – General sound discrimination – instrumental sounds
This aspect aims to develop children’s awareness of sounds made by various instruments and noise makers. Activities include comparing and matching sound makers, playing instruments alongside a story and making loud and quiet sounds.
Aspect 3 – General sound discrimination – body percussion
The aim of this aspect is to develop children’s awareness of sounds and rhythms. Activities include singing songs and action rhymes, listening to music and developing a sound vocabulary.
Aspect 4 – Rhythm and rhyme
This aspect aims to develop children’s appreciation and experiences of rhythm and rhyme in speech. Activities include rhyming stories, rhyming bingo, clapping out the syllables in words and odd one out.
Aspect 5 – Alliteration
The focus is on initial sounds of words, with activities including I-Spy type games and matching objects which begin with the same sound.
Aspect 6 – Voice sounds
The aim is to distinguish between different vocal sounds and to begin oral blending and segmenting. Activities include Metal Mike, where children feed pictures of objects into a toy robot’s mouth and the teacher sounds out the name of the object in a robot voice – /c/-/u/-/p/ cup, with the children joining in.
Aspect 7 – Oral blending and segmenting
In this aspect, the main aim is to develop oral blending and segmenting skills.
To practise oral blending, the teacher could say some sounds, such as /c/-/u/-/p/ and see whether the children can pick out a cup from a group of objects. For segmenting practice, the teacher could hold up an object such as a sock and ask the children which sounds they can hear in the word sock.
The activities introduced in Phase 1 are intended to continue throughout the following phases, as lots of practice is needed before children will become confident in their phonics knowledge and skills.
In Phase 2, letters and their sounds are introduced one at a time. A set of letters is taught over 2 weeks to, in the following sequence:
- Set 1: s, a, t, p
- Set 2: i, n, m, d
- Set 3: g, o, c, k
- Set 4: ck, e, u, r
- Set 5: h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss
As soon as each set of letters is introduced, children will be encouraged to use their knowledge of the letter sounds to blend and sound out words. For example, they will learn to blend the sounds s-a-t to make the word sat. They will also start learning to segment words. For example, they might be asked to find the letter sounds that make the word tap from a small selection of magnetic letters.
By the time they reach Phase 3 of the Letters and Sounds programme, children will already be able to blend and segment words containing the 19 letters taught in Phase 2.
Over the 12 weeks which Phase 3 is expected to last, 25 new graphemes are introduced one at a time.
- Set 6: j, v, w, x
- Set 7: y, z, zz, qu
- Consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng
- Vowel digraphs: ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er
During Phase 3, children will also learn the letter names using an alphabet song, although they will continue to use the sounds when decoding words.
When children start Phase 4 they know a grapheme for each of the 42 phonemes. They will be able to blend phonemes to read CVC (consonant vowel consonant) words, and segment in order to spell them.
Children will also have begun reading straightforward two-syllable words and simple captions, as well as reading and spelling some tricky words.
In Phase 4, no new graphemes are introduced. The main aim of this phase is to consolidate the children’s knowledge and to help them learn to read and spell words which have adjacent consonants, such as trap, string and milk.
Children entering Phase 5 will already be able to read and spell words with adjacent consonants, such as trap, string and flask. They will also be able to read and spell some polysyllabic words.
In Phase 5, 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.
With practice, speed at recognising and blending graphemes will improve. Word and spelling knowledge will be worked on extensively.
Keywords or common exception words are words which do not follow the phonological rules which children have learnt so far but are needed to make sense of words in sentences.
Here are some examples of keywords: the, are, me
Every 2 weeks teachers create a video including activities to revise and practise at home based on class based learning.
All learners will bring home a fully decodable book based on their previously learnt phonemes. These books are organised within our Phonics Book Scheme. This book should be reading regularly at home to help them develop their decoding skills and fluency for reading.
In addition to this, all learners (Reception to Year 1) bring home a ‘Practice Pack’ with resources based on their current learning. These packs will include sound cards and keyword cards. Depending on their current phase they will also include words, captions or sentences.