What is Phonics?

 Phonics is the system of ‘blending’ sounds together to read, and ‘segmenting’ sounds to spell. They are both complimentary and interlinking skills that are taught together. You may hear your children use some vocabulary that you are not familiar with that they have learnt in their phonics lessons.

A Phoneme
Is the smallest unit of sound that we use in the English language. A phoneme can be made up of one letter as in the alphabet sounds – s, a, t, p, i, n etc, or two letters (a digraph) as in sh, ch, th, ay, ar, or three letters (trigraphs) as in air, ear, ure. Phonemes can not be broken down into separate sounds.

A Grapheme
Is the way we spell a phoneme. A phoneme may have only one grapheme for example ‘b’. Or may have several different spellings – for example or can be spelt ‘or’ in torn, ‘aw’ in claw, ‘au’ in naughty or ore in more. The children will initially be introduced to one common grapheme for each phoneme, but as they progress through the school they will taught the less common spelling alternatives and encouraged to try and choose the correct grapheme for a particular word they are trying to spell.

Consonant Blends
Are made up of two or three phonemes blended together quite quickly as we learn to read. Examples are sc, sm, bl, pr, str

Short Vowel Sounds
Are the vowels saying their sound as ‘a’ in c a t.

Long Vowel Sounds
Are the vowels saying their name as ‘ay’ in day, ‘oa’ in boat or ‘igh’ in night.

How do we teach Phonics at our school?

Phonics lessons are taught daily in KS1 and Foundation Stage. We use a mixture of different resources and teaching styles to engage and motivate the children, including magnetic boards and letters, whiteboards and pens, games, flashcards based on the ‘Jolly Phonics’ phonics scheme

We have phonic based guided reading books for teachers to use with groups when teaching reading and there are some phonic based home readers in all book boxes.

How can you help your child?

In Foundation Stage the follow up sheets will be sent home to consolidate learning in class. It will be useful to revise the phonemes your child has learnt that week at school and also later to go over some from previous weeks to reinforce their learning. It is also very beneficial to point out some phonemes when reading at home with your child, particularly those recently learnt. Key words will be sent home as cards in Foundation Stage and linked to the stages in the reading scheme. Please help your child practise recognition of these as this is another important skill to master.

Click here to go to the Jolly Phonics website where there is a parents’ guide to phonics showing the articulation of phonemes (vowels and consonants).


Reading is obviously recognised as an essential element of all learning. We aim to teach the skills of reading and to foster a lifelong love of language. There is balance of non-fiction and fiction books and children are expected to read a range of genres.

Children bring books home from their earliest days in school. We view the education of children as a partnership with parents and ask them to read with their children as often as possible. Early reading books are levelled carefully and children work systematically through each level at their own pace. All of the children have access to the school library and a collection of ‘soft books’ where they can borrow books to bring home and share. Older children are encouraged to bring in their books from home.

Reading Schemes in School:

Oxford Reading Tree
Leapfrog Books
Ready to Read
Jelly and Bean

We also include a large selection of non scheme books within the levels and within each class children have access to high quality texts linked to their current topic.