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What is Phonics?

Phonics means using the sounds of the letters in words (NOT the names) as the first strategy that children use to help them learn to read. Words are made up from small units of sound (phonemes) and phonics teaches children to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. This helps them learn to read and spell words.

There has been a big shift in the past few years in how we teach reading in school. This is having a huge impact and helping many children learn to read and spell. Word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words (phonics).

Phonics at Phillimore

There are five phonic phases and our aim is that by the end of Year One most children will have an excellent understanding of the relationship between letters (graphemes) and sounds (phonemes). At the end of Year One children are then screened to determine how well they can use the phonics skills they’ve learned so far, and to identify children who need extra phonics help.

Every child in school is supported and taught to read using phonics until they have passed the phonics screening check.

How we Teach Phonics:

The school uses the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds revised programme to teach phonics.

Further information on the Little Wandle teaching programme and useful videos can be found following this link.

Little Wandle

A phonics lesson is about 30 minutes long and consists of four parts:

REVIEW – Review recently and previously learned phoneme-grapheme correspondences.

TEACH - New phoneme-grapheme correspondences; the skills of blending and segmenting and tricky words.

PRACTISE - New phoneme – grapheme correspondences; skills of blending and segmenting.

APPLY - New knowledge and skills while reading/writing.

Children read decodable phonics books until they are secure in reading fluently all the required graphemes.

The Phonics Screening Check

The Phonics Screening Check is meant to show the children’s phonic knowledge. The checks consist of 40 words and non-words that your child will be asked to read one-on-one with a teacher. Non-words (or nonsense words, or pseudo words) are a collection of letters that will follow phonics rules your child has been taught, but don’t mean anything – your child will need to read these with the correct sounds to show that they understand the phonics rules behind them. For example: floop.

You can download the Department for Education's official Year 1 Phonics screening check past paper from 2012 onwards

How Can You Support Your Child at Home?

Find out what phonic phase your child is working at. We are more than happy to give you any resources to help your child.

Use phonics as the first strategy when your child gets stuck on a word.

Read with your child every day.

Give lots of praise and encouragement even if they are not quite right.


Phonics Handbook

National curriculum and Essentials curriculum links

Learning to read through phonics information for parents.

Phonics Handbook