English – Phonics

Subject Leader – June Lowther

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At Selside Endowed Primary School, phonics runs alongside other teaching methods to help children develop vital reading skills and give them a real love of reading, hopefully for life. We believe that phonics is the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read and become independent writers. The teaching of phonics will be delivered using interactive sessions that engage and motivate our pupils. As reading and writing are both important keys to learning, we teach phonics clearly and systematically in highly structured daily lessons, learning the initial sounds first before progressing to exploring all of the different ways that sounds can be made in the English language!


Phonics actions and rhymes

At Selside Endowed Primary School pre-reading skills are taught using synthetic phonics and the school follows the government published programme ‘Letters and Sounds’ (click here).  This provides us with a multi-sensory approach that accommodates all learning styles. The children are taught within the phase (there are five phases across the programme which span Nursery through to Year 2) that is appropriate to their level of development. The phonemes (sounds) are systematically taught before the children are shown how to blend them for reading and segmenting them for writing. There are 44 phonemes in English which the children must learn. Alongside this, the children are taught the ’high frequency words’ and ‘tricky words’. Once children complete the phonics phases they move on the No Nonsense Spelling programme in Year 2.

Information for Parents

What is Phonics?

How to Pronounce Sounds


Phoneme – the smallest unit of sound in a word It is generally accepted that most varieties of spoken English use about 44 phonemes.

Graphemes – a symbol of a phoneme. It is a letter or group of letters representing a sound.

Segmenting – breaking words down into phonemes to spell.

Blending – building words from phonemes to read.

Digraph – when two letters come together to make a phoneme. For example, /oa/ makes the sound in ‘boat’ and is also known as a vowel digraph. There are also consonant digraphs, for example, /sh/ and /ch/.

Trigraph – when three letters come together to make one phoneme, for example /igh/.

Split Digraph – a digraph in which the two letters are not adjacent – e.g. make.


VC, CVC, and CCVC are the respective abbreviations for vowel-consonant, consonant-vowel-consonant, consonant-consonant-vowel-consonant, and are used to describe the order of graphemes in words (e.g. am (VC), Sam (CVC), slam (CCVC), or each (VC), beach (CVC), bleach (CCVC).

Tips for teaching your child the sounds:

  • It is important for a child to learn lower case or small letters rather than capital letters at first. Most early books and games use lower case letters and your child will learn these first at school. Obviously you should use a capital letter when required, such as at the beginning of the child’s name, eg. Paul.
  • When you talk about letters to your child, remember to use the letter sounds: a buh cuh duh e … rather than the alphabet names of the letters: ay bee see dee ee . The reason for this is that sounding out words is practically impossible if you use the alphabet names. eg. cat, would sound like: see ay tee
  • When saying the sounds of b, d, g, j and w you will notice the ‘uh’ sound which follows each, for example buh, duh… You cannot say the sound without it, however, try to emphasise the main letter sound.

Useful Websites



Phonics Reading Scheme

From Nursery to Year 2 our reading scheme is based on the phonics phases to help pupils revisit and consolidate the sounds and word taught.

Phonics Screening Check

At the end of Year 1, children complete a Phonics Screening Check required by the Government to assess where they are.