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Learning Phonics and learning to read is one of the most important stepping stones right from the Early Years Foundation Stage, as it gives your child the skills they need to move forward in every subject. You simply cannot progress without it.


What is Phonics?

Phonics is a method of learning to read. Phonics works by breaking each word up into it’s individual sounds before blending those sounds back together to make the word.  Children learn to 'decode' words by breaking it down into sounds rather than having to memorise thousands of words individually. 


How do we teach Phonics at Shirland Primary School?

Children in EYFS and Key Stage One are taught synthetic Phonics explicitly everyday. The children are taught in small groups by our team of experienced and well-trained teachers and teaching assistants. They are regularly assessed to ensure that they progress well and are on track to reach national expectations by the end of Year One, when they will sit their Phonics Screening Check.


Phonics interventions

At Shirland Primary School, we provide additional Phonics support to ensure that all children make good progress in Phonics. In Reception and Year One, children are taught age-related phonics as a whole class in the afternoons in addition to daily synthetic Phonics sessions.


Children in Year One and Year Two who require extra support with their Phonics will be asked to attend 'Phonics café'. This takes place at the beginning of the school day. During these sessions, children will take part in lots of Phonics games and activities to help them improve their skills. 


Phonics terminology

Phoneme - A sound that is said.

Grapheme - A sound that is written.

Phoneme and grapheme recognition come hand in hand as your child starts to learn phonics they will make an association between the two. For example, when you write the letter ‘a’ this is a grapheme, it makes the short ‘a’ sound (like in ‘ant’), but when the short ‘a’ is said this is the phoneme. 


The 44 sounds of the English language are not just made by up by single letters sounds, two letters can work together, sometimes three! These are know as: digraphs, trigraphs and split digraphs.

Digraph -  Two letters that work together to make the same sound, for example ‘oa’ like in ‘boat’.

Trigraph - Three letters that work together to make the same sound, for example ‘air’ in ‘hair’.

Split digraph -  A split digraph is two letters that work together to make the same sound but are separated by another letter for example ‘i-e’ in ‘bike’.



Try some of these fun Phonics games at home!


Letters and Sounds, English Games for 5-7 Years - Topmarks 


What is the Phonics Screening check?

The Phonics Screening check is a compulsory assessment that all children in the UK take at the end of Year One. It is designed to make sure students have developed Phonic decoding skills to an appropriate standard. The Phonics Screening check is made of up of 40 words, 20 ‘real words’ and 20 ‘pseudo words’. Each child reads the words and the teacher observes. If your child does not pass the check in Year One they will be required to resit it at the end of Year Two.

The Phonics Screening Check

The Phonics Screening Check video for parents.