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What is Phonics?

Phonics is all about sounds and is a method of teaching children to read. Phonics works by breaking words down into their individual sounds, there are 44 sounds in the English language, which are put together to form words. Some are represented by one letter – which is known as a phoneme, some by two known as a digraph and 3 sounds which are known as a trigraph.


Children are taught the sounds first, then how to match them to letters, and finally how to use the letter sounds for reading and spelling. Not all words are phonetically decode-able however, a select few words you need to learn through the 'sight words' method of learning to read (you, he, she, said etc)

What does Phonics look like at Long Mead?

We prioritise the development of children’s listening and attention skills and their auditory and memory skills, teaching and exploring rhythm, rhyme, song and story throughout the Early Years.


We use the Phase 1 aspect of Letters and Sounds, alongside Development Matters in the EYFS, to inform our planning. As children begin to tune into and discriminate the individual sounds around them, so they are able to hear the sounds made by the letters of the alphabet.


The Phonics Codebreaker

  • Phoneme: A sound as it is said.

  • Grapheme: A sound that is written.

  • Digraph: Two letters that work together to make the same sound.

  • Trigraph: Three letters that work together to make the same sound.

  • Split digraph: Two letters that work together to make the same sound, separated by another letter.

Daily synthetic phonics lessons begin in Reception through to Year 2 these are taught in small groups based on the children’s needs. We use FFT - Success for all to teach our children as they learn to hear, say, read and write sounds and words, captions and sentences. During these sessions’ children practise speed sounds, oral blending and segmenting, and then have the opportunity to apply these skills in reading and writing. Phonics lessons are fast-paced and repetitive in order to introduce, recall and embed learning.

Phonics Assessment

Children are regularly assessed using termly assessments and are re-grouped according to their next steps so that they always receive targeted teaching. All children sit a Phonics Screening Check at the end of Year 1 (in special circumstances, some children may be exempt). This is a nationally produced check with an ‘expected’ threshold. Children who do not reach the threshold in Year 1 receive extra support in Year 2 and KS2 and will be given the opportunity to resit the screening check at the end of Year 2. Phonics and other support interventions are continued throughout KS2 where needed.

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