Teaching and learning of Phonics in EYFS and KS1
In EYFS, Year 1 and Year 2 children take part in an active phonics session. It is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. The scheme we follow is ‘Letters and Sounds’ and through this children learn how to:
- Recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
- Identify letter names for all letters of the alphabet and use these for spelling words;
- Identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make - such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’;
- Blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.
Children use the points above to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read. ‘Letters and Sounds’ is a structured way of learning that is split into phases that match the age expectations of each year group.
Phase 1 – children develop their listening skills through focussing on environmental sounds
– e.g. they make a woosh noise for a rocket. They recognise animal sounds and different
sounds that they can make with their voices, playing games such as bingo. They start to
recognise musical sounds and sounds that you can make on your body. They begin to
experience patterns rhythm and rhyme and an understanding of alliteration. Also, children
start to experience the process of orally blending sounds to make words – e.g. C-A-T makes
Phase 2 - starts with single sounds for each letter of the alphabet. Children learn the letter
names and the sound that they make to be able to blend sounds for reading and segment
sounds for spelling. They will learn how to blend and segment these sounds into words,
thinking about how many sounds are in the word. Then, children move on to double letter
sounds such as ck, ll, ff, ss etc. In addition, children will learn how to read common words
such as – it, is, go, no, get, back, put, the etc.
Phase 3 – children progress to more complex sounds called digraphs (2 letters making 1
sound), vowel digraphs (2 letters that are vowels, making 1 sound) and trigraphs (3 letters
making 1 sound). Again, they learn how to blend and segment sounds into words and start
to recognise words that have two syllables. Children will move onto reading ‘trickier’
common words, such as was, will, with etc. They will also practise reading and writing
sentences and captions involving these common words and words with the focus sound.
Phase 4 – the main focus is to practise blending CVCC/CCVC (words with two adjacent
consonants). These adjacent consonant sounds can both be heard when you say the word
which makes them different from a digraph. These are words such as – flat, last, crab etc.
Some children can find this tricky. Sometimes, they can miss sounds out (particularly when
spelling) because they do not hear the sound such as the n in bend. There will be more
common words for children to practise reading and spelling e.g. - you, like, come, some, all
Phase 5a – children learn alternative ways of making sounds that they learnt in phase 3 –
e.g. the ai sound in r-ai-n, children will learn another way of making a long a sound, ay as in
p-l-ay. Children will also learn split digraphs a-e (game), e-e (scene), i-e (kite), o-e (bone) and u-e
Phase 5b – this is where it starts to get a little bit trickier. This part of the phase introduces children
to how some sounds and how they are made, can make an alternative sound – such as ch (like chat)
can make a c sound as in (school) or a sh sound as in (chef). Children are taught to use the initial
sound that they know and ask themselves if the word makes sense? Then, they use the alternative
pronunciation and blend the word to make sense. This can be quite a jump for some children to
make as they have to realise that English isn't quite as straightforward as it once seemed.
Phase 5c – another tricky area of phonics is alternative spellings of sounds. This area introduces
children to different ways of spelling and enables them to read more difficult vocabulary. Children
will learn how to read polysyllabic words (more than one syllable) and these will include alternative
pronunciations of sounds. Through the whole of phase 5, children will continue to learn and practise
how to read and spell common words.
Phase 6 - reinforces much of the learning from Phase 5 and helps children to develop their ability to
read words automatically. This area begins to explore spelling rules and conventions e.g. adding -ing
and –ed and introduces children to prefixes and suffixes (words added to the beginning or end of an
original word) un-happy (prefix) or child-ish (suffix).
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.
What is the phonics screening check?
The phonics screening check is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonics knowledge. It
helps your school confirm whether your child has made the expected progress.
How does the check work?
• Your child will sit with a teacher he or she knows and be asked to read 40 words aloud.
• Your child may have read some of the words before, while others will be completely new.
• The check normally takes just a few minutes to complete and there is no time limit. If
your child is struggling, the teacher will stop the check. The check is carefully designed not
to be stressful for your child.
After the check
The school will tell you about your child’s progress in phonics and how he or she has done in
the screening check in the last half-term of Year 1. If your child has found the check difficult,
your child would have support put in place to help him or her improve. You might like to ask
how you can support your child to take the next step in reading. All children are individuals
and develop at different rates. The screening check ensures that teachers understand which
children need extra help with phonic decoding.