What is phonics?
Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. They are taught how to:
- recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
- identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make – such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’; and
- blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.
Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.
Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7.
Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment.
We follow a programme called Letters and Sounds across Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. We use Jolly Phonics, Oxford Reading Tree and Floppy Phonics to supplement Letters and Sounds. We teach a daily phonics lesson for 20 minutes across Reception and Year 1. During each session the children review previous taught sounds/words, are introduced to new ones and are taught to apply the new sound/words to reading and writing through a range of engaging activities. The skills the children are taught in these sessions are applied throughout the curriculum. The children are regularly assessed and monitored for phonics and this is used to inform planning and to identify where support is required.
At the end of Year 1 all children will take a Phonics Screening Check. This will assess the children’s understanding of the sounds they are taught and how they use them to read words. If children do not reach the expected level, they will retake the Phonics Screening Check again in Year 2.
A link to a Government Documentation about Phonics
If you are unsure how to pronounce some of the sounds this video is very useful.
Once children reach Year 2, we continue with daily spelling lessons, where much of the learning form Year 1 is revisited and built upon. They are also taught some of the more unusual ways to spell sounds. Children also begin to learn how to add prefixes (e.g. un, im to words – happy becomes unhappy, possible becomes impossible) and suffixes (e.g. ly, ness – happy becomes happily and kind becomes kindness) to words.
What happens after Phonics?
Once the children are in Key Stage 2 they have a weekly spelling lesson, which may also incorporate elements of punctuation, grammar and vocabulary work. We use two schemes called No Nonsense Spelling and Treasure House to provide a range of engaging learning opportunities for the children. The have the chance to revisit spelling rules already learnt, are taught new spelling patterns and rules, and have the opportunity to practice and apply new learning. Children also have a weekly dictation, which includes spelling patterns and rules which have been recently taught. Children often have the opportunity to revisit this learning during independent time and guided reading sessions throughout the week.
Super Speller Badges
We have introduced Super Speller Badges which cover the “common exception words” the children are required to learn during their time at Hillmorton Primary School. Common Exception Words or Tricky Words are those which cannot be sounded out using phonics and those which do not follow the usual conventions and rules of spelling. There are 7 Badges for the children to be awarded: yellow, green, orange, blue, red, pink and purple. The children will achieve each badge once they can spell all of the identified words correctly.
You can find a list of the words that the children will be assessed on for each badge here –