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Phonics teaching is the teaching of the relationship between letters and sounds in English. Our alphabet is comprised of 26 letters which we call graphemes. However, there are 44 different sounds which we call phonemes. From this, letters can make different sounds and some sounds are made up of 1, 2 or 3 different combinations of letters. This can make our language seem quite complicated, as there is not one letter to one sound. 


In our school phonics teaching focusses on two areas - phonics knowledge and phonic skills. Phonics knowledge is about children knowing which letters and combinations of letters (graphemes), make which sounds (phonemes). Phonics skills are about teaching the children how to use their knowledge for reading and for writing. 


At our school, we use a number of strategies to help teach this but we follow the Letters and Sounds guidance from the Department of Education alongside a fantastic website called Phonics Play. From these, there is a systematic programme that ranges from phase 1 to phase 6 that builds on reading and spelling skills.

Please see below the attached PowerPoint from letters and sounds to explain the phases in more depth. 

Please click on this link to take you to phonics play

Nursery and EYFS

Children in Nursery should be taught Phase 1 though a differentiated approach within the setting on a daily basis. Staff will teach phase 2 to any children identified as secure at phase 1. 


Reception will be taught a high quality discrete phonics session daily as a whole class. They will also have a differentiated booster phonic session once a week. Phonics skills are embedded in writing and reading tasks in English sessions. During the apply section, the activities will be differentiated to ensure that all children are reaching their full potential within a challenging and supportive environment. Continuous provision and the outdoor learning environment in EYFS support children in closing the gap and consolidating their phonic knowledge. Phonics phase mats (see below) should be freely available in each area of learning and outdoors.

Key Stage 1

Children in Year 1 have access to high quality daily differentiated phonics sessions. The applied activities will be differentiated to ensure all children reach their full potential. The underlying aim of Year 1 should be to ensure all children have completed Phases 4 and 5 and be ready to begin Phase 6 upon entry into Year 2. They additionally have daily Phase 5 teaching in January to ensure they have plenty of practice in recognising ‘Alien’ or pseudo words, in readiness for the Phonic Screening Check and to give them the confidence to read any word. Phonics phase mats are freely available in all writing too. 


Children in Year 2 continue to have access to high quality daily differentiated phonics lessons according to gaps three times a week ranging from phase 3-phase 6. For the other two days Year 2 follow a no nonsense spelling programme that teaches them phase 6.

Children aspire to read and write all the common exception words for Years 1 and 2 (see below) and we ask grown-ups at home to help practice with these.

Phonic phase mats - these are used throughout EYFS, KS1 and Year 3

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