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What is Phonics?

Phonics is a method used to teach children how to read and write.  It involves matching letters to their sounds, segmenting words into sounds and blending the sounds together. Even though there are 26 letters in the alphabet, there are 44 sounds in the English language. These are made up by single letters or a group of two or three letters. We teach phonics in 6 phases.

Take a look at our parent presentation for more information about sounds and phases in phonics.



Phonics Terminology 

Digraph – two letters make one sound (e.g. sh, ch, ai, ea, ou, ow).

Trigraph three letters make one sound (e.g. igh, ear, air, ure).

Split digraph – two letters make one sound but the letters have been split apart by another letter. (e.g. the a - e sound in cape)

Phoneme a single unit of sound

Grapheme – a written letter, or group of letter that represent a sound.

Consonants b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z

Blend – to put or merge the sounds together to make a word (e.g. the sounds d-o-g are blended to the word ‘dog’.)

Segment to break down the word into its individual sounds to spell (e.g cat can be split into the sounds c-a-t.).

Sound buttons ways of visually isolating different sounds in a word. We use a dot under letters where one letter makes one sound and a line understand digraphs or trigraphs.

Tricky words- words that cannot be sounded out easily.

Phonics: How to pronounce pure sounds | Oxford Owl

Our Intent 

At Wanstead Church School we recognise reading and writing  as key life skills, which underpin access to the rest of the curriculum. We intend for all children, regardless of their background or starting point, to become fluent and confident readers by the end of KS1. We strive for pupils to learn to read and write effectively and efficiently through the systematic teaching of synthetic phonics. Within our phonics teaching, we intend to create positive experiences of reading as soon as your child enters the school; leading to enthusiastic attitudes towards books and, ultimately, a love for reading. We aim to build upon children’s vocabulary and fluency in order to provide them with a wider range of opportunities in all of their learning.



Effective Phonics teaching and learning is essential for high attainment in reading and writing. Phonics is taught daily to children in Early Years and Key stage 1, and begins in Nursery.

  • Children are provided with high quality phonics lessons that match closely with their ability
  • Phonics is taught following letters and sounds, with a variety of supportive resources such as jolly phonics, and phonics play.
  • Children are streamlined into smaller groups to enable them to gain more support
  • Children’s progress in developing and applying their phonic knowledge is carefully assessed and monitored
  • Children are taught tricky words for each of the phonics phases from Year 1
  • Big Cat Collins reading books are used to support children’s learning
  • Across Reception and KS1, children take home books which are closely matched to the children’s knowledge of phonics – the books contain words that they can confidently decode, along with a book of their choosing that challenges and inspires them.
  • Children are supported in learning to read high frequency words in order to aid fluency when reading.

Extra support is provided to children in Year 2 who did not pass the phonics screening in Year 1. This support is made up of  small group phonics teaching alongside weekly interventions; where all progress is monitored closely. Interventions and supportive sessions are planned for children who go into KS2 having not passed their phonics screening test in order to ensure continued progress throughout the transition into KS2.



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