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.
Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of individual letters and how those letters sound when they’re combined will help children decode words as they read.
Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing words.
From Reception onwards, children take part in daily phonic lessons delivered with an active and multi-sensory approach to engage all learners at the appropriate level. Lessons are well paced, highly engaging and require all children to be active participants in their learning.
Phonic lessons follow the structure of:
Children are regularly assessed enabling individual progress to be carefully monitored. Importantly, this facilitates the early identification of children requiring personalised intervention, or indeed extra challenge, to reach their fullest potential.
At Bournville Village Primary School, we follow the Letters and Sounds order of teaching phonics and supplement this with Jolly Phonics resources and teaching tools.
Our aim for a ‘typical’ phonic learning journey is:
Reception: Letters and Sounds Phases, 1, 2 and 3 delivered through daily discrete, multi‐sensory sessions where the children both read and write; and as part of the continuous provision.
Year 1: Letter and Sounds Phase 4 and 5 delivered through daily, discrete, highly focused teacher led sessions, moving to a focus on the application of writing and spelling.
Year 2: Letter and Sounds Phase 5 consolidated, if required, before pupils move onto spelling work in line with 'No Nonsense Spelling' spelling programme for Years 2 to 6.
Year 3 and beyond: Children not reaching the expected levels of phonic knowledge by the end of year 2 i.e. phase 5, would continue to access dedicated phonic learning, as required.
The Phonics Screening test
During the Summer term in Year 1, children nationwide are tested on their phonic knowledge. This test helps us to identify children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge and may need further support in Year 2. The test is low-key and we endeavour to make it stress-free for the children. Essentially, the children are asked to read 40 words from a list, using their phonics to ‘sound out’ the word and then blend it if they need to. Parents are informed as to whether their child has achieved the national expectation within the child’s end-of-year report.
Last year’s pass rate was 83% which is well above the national average.
Practicing phonics at home
The best phonics resources are reading books. The decodable book your child brings home has been carefully matched to your child's phonics ability; spend some time looking at the phonemes listed on the inside front cover of the book and encourage your child to recall each sound before attempting to blend individual sounds to read the words in the text.
Alongside these books your child may bring home a book they have chosen from the library and may have favourite books that they like to access at home. Setting quiet time aside to read and enjoy books together is the single most important thing we can do as parents to support our children's reading journey.
In addition to books, your child will bring home lists of phonemes and words that can be decoded using their phonics knowledge. Practice reading and spelling these words. Play fun games with them such as thinking of words that rhyme. Finally, your child will also receive a list of 'tricky' words - common words that appear very often in written texts but that are not phonically decodable, which means the words have to be learned and recognised by sight. The expectation is that by the end of Reception children should be able to read most of these words, and by the end of Year 1 they should be able to spell most of them. Try to practice one word with your child from the list per day.
Try following our cycle of learning when looking at new phonemes with your child:
What are the letter sounds?
The link below will take you to a website where you can click on each letter within a set to hear the correct sound.