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What is phonics and why do we teach it?

Phonics is the study of sounds. Children are taught to read and write using phonics which is directly linking

phonemes (sounds in words) to graphemes (the letters). For example, in the word rain, we can split it into three separate sounds


The 'ai' grapheme makes the sound 'A' . It can also be seen in words such as t-r-ai-n, and p-ai-n-t.

In the word 'p-l-ay' the A sound is made by the grapheme 'ay'. 

Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through the more complex sounds, it is the most effective way of teaching children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5-7. Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can go onto read any kind of text fluently, confidently and for enjoyment.

At St. Antony's we use Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised which has been developed by Wandle and Little Sutton English Hubs to teach children the different sounds (phonemes) and the letters or combinations of letters that represent those sounds (graphemes).

In EYFS and KS1 Phonics is taught daily and in discrete lessons. Phonics lessons are always fun, fast paced and interactive!  

  • Phase 2
    Phase 2 sounds taught in Reception Autumn 1

  • Phase 2
    Phase 2 sounds taught in Reception Autumn 2

  • Phase 3
    Phase 3 sounds taught in Reception Spring 1

  • Blending
    How we teach blending video is designed to be shared with families by schools using Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised to help them to support learning at home. These four videos show you how to pronounce the sounds. Notice how the children don’t add an ‘uh’ sound at the end, so they say: ‘t’ not ‘tuh’. Use the downloadable information to help your child remember how to write their letters and say their sounds.

  • Phonics Screening Year 1
    Children in Year 1 will be taking the statutory phonics screening check in June. Please make sure your child is in school this week! There will be a parents screening meeting during Spring term


Phonic Knowledge and Skills

Phase One(Nursery/Reception)

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.

Phase Two

(Reception) up to 6 weeks

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.

Phase Three

(Reception) up to 12 weeks

The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.

Phase Four

(Reception) 4 to 6 weeks

No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.

Phase Five 

(Throughout Year 1)

Now we move on to the "complex code". Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.

Phase Six

(Throughout Year 2 and beyond)

They begin with a phase 5 review. Then move onto the bridge for spelling which teaches the children to 'think about spelling'.

What are High Frequency words?

High frequency words are common words, words that appear very often in written texts. They are a mixture of decodable words (words that can be sounded out) and tricky / exception words (words in which the English spelling code works in an unusual or uncommon way, which means the words have to be learned and recognised by sight).

It is really important that children learn how to read these words as they will make up a large proportion of the words they will be reading in everyday texts. They also need to learn to spell these words as they will find they will need to use them a great deal in their writing. 

How can I help at home?

There are lots of things that parents can do at home to support your child. One of the main things is to read with your child each night and encourage them to 'sound out' unfamiliar words.Below are some suggested websites to support the learning of phonics.

  • Phonics to Reading
    Although your child will be taught to read at school, you can have a huge impact on their reading journey by continuing their practice at home. There are two types of reading book that your child may bring home: A reading practice book. This will be at the correct phonic stage for your child. They should be able to read this fluently and independently. A sharing book. Your child will not be able to read this on their own. This book is for you both to read and enjoy together.