Phonics underpins how we teach children to read and write in EYFS and KS1. At St. Andrews we follow the Letters & Sounds programme which consists of six overlapping phases. The programme prepares children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and blending skills. Children also learn to segment words into their separate sounds in order to write them. From Phase 2 onwards, children learn to read (and write) common exception words alongside new phonemes/graphemes*.
*A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in speech. A grapheme is a letter or a number of letters that represent a sound (phoneme) in a word.
This phase begins in Nursery. Children become familiar with environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration and voice sounds.
In Phase 2, children learn 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. They develop oral blending and segmenting skills. Children learn to blend sounds together to make words. Children work towards being able to read CVC words and simple captions. For example, ‘leg’, ‘pen’ ‘mat’ and ‘A run in the sun’.
Children learn the phonemes that correspond with the remaining 7 letters of the alphabet. Then consonant and vowel digraphs are introduced (e.g. sh, ch, ai, oo, ar). Children continue to develop their blending and segmenting skills and become more fluent at 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.
In Phase 4, no new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. bland, track, shrimp.
In Year 1, children move on to the "complex code". Here they learn more graphemes for the phonemes which were taught in Phase 3. This means that they learn alternative ways of representing the ‘sounds’ that they know For example, in Phase 3 they learnt ‘ai’ and in Phase 5 they will learn that ‘ay’ and ‘a-e’ also make the same sound.
Later in Phase 5, children also learn different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know. For example, they know ‘c’ as in ‘cat’ but also learn ‘c’ as in ‘cell’.
Children work on applying their phonic knowledge to their spelling. This includes using prefixes and suffixes, and doubling and dropping letters etc.
Phonics lessons take place every day in EYFS and KS1 and each lesson includes opportunities for children to practise and apply the phoneme/graphemes children have learned. To further consolidate their learning, children are asked to read every day at home.