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Swingate Primary School

Swingate Primary School

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Phonics

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The school has adopted the Letters and Sounds document to teach phonics.

In the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 phonics is taught daily at a discrete dedicated time.

Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read.  Phonics runs alongside other teaching methods to help children develop vital reading skills and give them a real love of reading – hopefully for life.

Phoneme?  Grapheme?  

Words are made up from small units of sound (phonemes) and phonics teaches children to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word.  This helps them learn to read and spell words.

In phonics lessons children are taught three main things:

1              GPCs (grapheme phoneme correspondences)

GPCs simply means that children are taught all the phonemes in the English language and ways of writing them down. 

2              Blending

Children are taught to blend sounds together by merging the individual sounds together until they can hear what the word is.  This is a vital reading skill.

3              Segmenting

Segmenting is the opposite of blending!  Children are able to say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up.  This is a vital spelling skill.

Why is phonics so tricky?

The English language is very complicated!  England has been invaded so many times throughout its history and each set of invaders brought new words and new sounds with them.  As a result, English only has around 44 phonemes but there are around 120 graphemes or ways of writing down those 44 phonemes.  Plus, we only have 26 letters in the alphabet so some graphemes are made up from more than one letter. 

ch  th  oo ay  (these are digraphs – graphemes with two letters)

There are other graphemes that are trigraphs (made up of 3 letters) and a very few made from 4 letters.

Some graphemes can represent more than one phoneme, ie, ch can make different sounds, chip, school, chef

Learning to read is like cracking a code so teaching phonics is a way of teaching children to crack the code.  As reading is the key to learning it is important that we teach phonics clearly and systematically learning easy bits first then progressing to trickier bits!

Year 1 Phonics Screening Check

The statutory Year 1 Phonics Screening Check which will take place during June each year.

The check is a list of 40 words which children will read one -to-one with their class teacher.  It will assess phonics skills and knowledge learned through Reception and Year 1.

It will check that your child can:

  • Sound out and blend graphemes in order to read simple words e.g. n-igh-t
  • Read phonically decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words, e.g. cat, sand, windmill.
  • Read a selection of nonsense words which are referred to as ‘pseudo words’.

For the Department for Education Parents and Carers Information on the Year One phonics screening please find the attached document.

Please also find a PowerPoint of how we say the sounds.