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Early Years and Key Stage One Phonics


What is Phonics?

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.

At Poppleton Road, we use the synthetic approach to teaching phonics.

This involves matching the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters. For example, the sound k can be spelled as c, k, ck or ch.

Teaching children to blend the sounds of letters together helps them decode unfamiliar or unknown words by sounding them out. For example, when a child is taught the sounds for the letters tpa and s, they can start to build up the words: “tap”, “taps”, “pat”, “pats” and “sat”.


Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing words.


As well as teaching children sounds, we also introduce them to ‘tricky words’. These are words that are used on a regular basis when reading and writing. Often these words do not follow the phonics rules that are taught and so have to be learnt by sight.

How is Phonics taught in Early Years and Key Stage One?

As soon as the children start school, they take part in daily phonics lessons. Each lesson follows the same structure:

  1. Revisit sounds and key words that have already learnt
  2. Introduce/teach new sound or word
  3. Practice using this new sound or words through different visual, kinaesthetic and auditory activities
  4. Apply new sound or word by reading/writing it in sentences.


We have a clear long term plan in place for teaching phonics across Early Years and Key Stage One. This is split into 6 phases. For the majority of children, we start at Phase 2 when they first start school. Sometimes these phases are repeated as the children move through school. The content of these phases is shown below, along with some of our medium term plans for phonics where we split the sounds and key words into particular weeks. These plans are altered on a regular basis to reflect school life and how the children are progressing.


Occasionally children need further support with their phonics. This is done through extra phonics teaching usually in small groups with a teacher or teaching assistant at another point during the day.

Phonics Phases

Please note 'ure' is no longer taught as a separate phoneme in Phase 3. 

High Frequency Words for each Phase

Why do we teach Phonics?

We strongly believe in the importance of phonics in children's education.

Being a confident reader and writer is a valuable life skill. As such we place a lot of emphasis on ensuring our children get the very best support and provision possible eg providing extra teaching assistants to support reading during guided reading sessions.

We constantly review and adapt our planning to suit the needs and progress of the children. Intervention programmes are put in place for those who need further support.  

Strong links between school and home are essential. 

Supporting children with their phonics at home

The very best way to support your child is by reading with them/listening to them read on a daily basis.

Read and writing tricky words on a daily basis is really useful too. This is often sent home with weekly homework.

We also have several computer programs that your child can access to help with their phonics skills: Bug Club (Active Learn Website), Reading Eggs, Fast Phonics. Our reading books are colour coded and closely match the phonics phases. 


Phonics Screening Check

Children who are in Year 1 take part in a statutory phonics screening check. This is usually in June. They read 40 real and nonsense words to a teacher on an individual basis so that we can see how they are understanding and using their phonics. They are then given a pass mark out of 40. This information is sent to parents and carers. Children who do not achieve the required pass mark in Year 1, can then take the next phonics screening test when they are in Year 2.

Key terms we are using

Digraphs – two  letters making one sound eg ch, sh, th

Trigraph – three letters making one sound eg air, ure, ear

Split digraph – two letters make one sound but these letters have been split apart by another letter eg a-e as in cake, o-e as in pole

Phoneme – a single unit of sound

Grapheme – a written letter or group of letters that represent a sound

Blend – to put or merge the sounds together to make a word eg the sound d-o-g are blended together to make dog

Segment – to break down a word into its individual sounds to spell eg bath is made up of b-a-th sound


Other resources that might be useful

KS2 Phonics 

What is taught in KS2 Phonics? 


Some children, when entering into KS2 still require phonics instruction to enable them to read and write at their age-appropriate level. In KS2, phonics is taught as a continuation from KS1 and alongside Support for Spelling for each year group. The focus remains on oral segmenting and decoding of phase 1-6 phonetic sounds but will be used in context with age-appropriate texts where possible. 


When are specific skills and knowledge taught? 

KS2 phonics is taught during whole-class support for spelling sessions at least three times a week. For any children who require phase 2-5 phonics specifically, they will be taught these phases during group-specific interventions additionally to these sessions. 


How do we teach ks2 Phonics? 


Spelling Banks 

Teachers provide spelling banks for children when writing. Teachers can provide content and activities that ‘glue’ the words in these spelling banks together, such as themed spelling stories involving grapheme searches, reading the stories with comprehension or acting out the words.

They choose appropriate words to enrich spoken language, with attention to homophones and including dictionary work and grammar activities alongside.


Oral Segmenting at KS2 

Following oral segmenting (identification of the sounds from beginning to end of spoken words), teachers and learners can discuss which spelling alternatives are required for specific words, with reference to the chart (see below). 

We only need letter names in spelling to relay a correct spelling from one person to another – letter by letter. The skill of oral segmenting for spelling (starting with syllable chunking in multi-syllable words) should continue in KS2 – including making it explicit that this spelling skill is an adult skill, not just 'baby stuff’.


Decoding at KS2 

If children are able to decode age-appropriate texts, it improves their intellectual development and self-esteem – especially important for those receiving a phonics intervention beyond the main class.

For longer-term reading and increasing vocabulary, the ability to phonically decode new and unknown words is essential. If a printed word is new to the reader, it is sometimes possible to deduce its meaning according to its context. However, if the reader is not able to come up with pronunciation for that word – either aloud or silently – it cannot be added to spoken language. Therefore providing texts that build on children's knowledge of phonics, even in KS2, can increase their fluency and their understanding of the wider world. 


Why do we teach phonics in KS2? 


Some children at Key Stage 2 may be experiencing difficulty in reading and/or writing because they have missed or misunderstood a crucial phase of systematic phonics teaching. In their day-to-day learning some children may:

• experience difficulties with blending for reading and segmenting for spelling

• show confusion with certain graphemes and related phonemes

• have difficulty segmenting longer words containing adjacent consonants

• demonstrate general insecurity with long vowel phonemes. For example, children generally know the most common representation of a phoneme, for example, /ai/ as in train, but require more explanation and practice about the alternative spellings for any particular phoneme.