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What Is Phonics?

  • Phonics is the study of the relationship between sounds and letters. It is an essential component of reading and writing practice and instruction in the primary grades. Phonics knowledge leads to word knowledge. Along with plenty of experience reading, students begin to read words fluently with little effort.
  • Phonics teaching helps students to learn the written correspondences between letters, patterns of letters, and sounds.
  • At Craven it is one part of a comprehensive literacy program that must also include practice in comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, writing, and thinking.

When Are Students Ready to Learn Phonics?

  • As soon as children enter our academy there is an expectation that they will be exposed to phonics teaching and provision. This may be through phonics instruction where they are taught to recognise letters and sounds, or it may be phonological awareness of recognising syllables, seperate sounds, pattern and rhythm.
  • When children are ready to, they develop concepts of print that can be huge, such as learning the purposes of writing and illustrations; understanding what an author is; and identifying text features including the front and back of a book, uppercase and lowercase letters, reading top to bottom, reading left to write, return sweep at the end of a line, and the meaning of punctuation.

What is Letters and Sounds?

Letters and SoundsThe academy follows the Letters and Sounds program. This is a phonics resource published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of five, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven.

There are six overlapping phases. The table below is a summary based on the Letters and Sounds


Phonic Knowledge and Skills

Phase One (Nursery/Reception)

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.

Phase Two (Reception) up to 6 weeks

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.
Phase Three (Reception) up to 12 weeksThe remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. 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.

Phase Four (Reception) 4 to 6 weeks

No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.
Phase Five (Throughout Year 1)Now we move on to the "complex code". Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.
Phase Six (Throughout Year 2 and beyond)Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.