Regular phonic sessions are taught from the Foundation Stage to Year 2. These sessions follow the government published programme, ‘Letters and Sounds’.
A session is a daily 20 minute structured lesson, where the children have the opportunity to practice reading and writing.
The Letters and Sounds programme is split into 6 phases. These are expected to be taught during the following years:
• Phase 1 - Nursery or pre-school
• Phase 2, 3 and 4 - Reception
• Phase 4 and 5 - Year 1 progressing on to the National Curriculum expectations for year 1
• Phase 5 and 6 - Year 2 progressing onto the National Curriculum expectations for year 2
At each phase, children are taught to recognise individual sounds, pairs and clusters of letters, in phonic sessions children are taught to recognise letters, understand the sound they make and then blend them together to create words. Some words, which cannot be sounded out phonetically, are taught at each phase. These are ‘tricky words’ and are taught through sight recognition.
In 2012, a statutory check was introduced for all children in year 1. The check assesses phonic knowledge learnt in Reception (phase 3) and in Year 1 (phases 4 and 5). It was developed to help identify the children who need extra help with decoding and blending before they begin Year 2.
This phase lays the foundations. The emphasis is about children hearing sounds around them, for example through songs, stories and rhymes and other listening activities.
Letters and Sounds in this phase are introduced in a sequence so that children can begin to blend and sound out simple words. For example, the first three letters are s-a-t so when blending they can sound out the word sat. They will also start segmenting or taking apart letters, for example, tap would be segmented to t-a-p.
When they reach Phase 3 children will be able to blend and segment words containing all the letters from Phase 2 (19 in total). Then 26 new graphemes will be introduced.
During Phase 3, the following tricky words (which cannot be decoded) are introduced: he, she, we, me, be, was, you, they, all, are, my, her
Children will have begun to read straight forward words and simple captions as well as reading and spelling some tricky words. The main aim of Phase 4 is to consolidate the children’s knowledge so far and to help them with reading and spelling. More tricky words are introduced: said, have, like, so, do, some, come, were, there, little, one, out, what, when
In Phase 5 children will learn more about graphemes and phonemes. They already know ai as in rain, but now they will learn ay as in day and a-e so they can learn make.
They will also learn the different pronunciations for example, ea as in tea, head and break.
They will also learn: oh, their, could, asked, called, looked, Mr, Mrs, people
In Phase 6 the main aim is for children to become more fluent readers and more accurate spellers.
• Phoneme - The smallest unit of sound. There are approximately 44 phonemes in English (it can depend on different accents). Phonemes can be put together to make words.
• Grapheme - A way of writing down a phoneme. Graphemes can be made up from 1 letter e.g. P, or 2 letters e.g. Sh, or 3 letters e.g. Tch or 4 letters e.g. Ough.
• GPC - This is short for Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence - Knowing a GPC means being able to match a phoneme to a grapheme or vice versa.
• Digraph - A grapheme containing two letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).
• Trigraph - A grapheme containing three letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).
• Blending - This involves looking at a written word, looking at each grapheme and using knowledge of GPCs to work out which phoneme each grapheme represents and then merging these phonemes together to make a word.
• Segmenting - This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes (sound talk/sounding out) that make it, using knowledge of GPCs to work out which graphemes represent those phonemes and then writing those graphemes down in the right order.