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At Otley and Witnesham, children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 have daily 20 minutes phonics sessions. We follow the Letters and Sounds scheme along with Jolly Phonics actions to support the children’s learning.

Phase 1

Phonics in early years starts by focusing on the children’s listening skills. There are seven areas that we focus on at the start of reception.

  • Environmental sounds
  • Instrumental sounds
  • Body percussion
  • Rhythm and rhyme
  • Alliteration
  • Voice sounds
  • Oral blending and segmenting

We cover this through activities such as identifying instruments, learning rhymes and making a silly soup!

Phase 2

In this phase, children learn the most common 19 sounds. They will learn what the letter looks like (grapheme), the sound it makes (phoneme) and how it is formed. By the end of the phase many children will be able to read and write vowel-constant (VC) and constant-vowel-constant (CVC) words using their blending and segmenting skills. They also learn to read high-frequency tricky words; the, to, go, no, I. These are words that can’t be read by blending and need to be learnt by sight.

Phase 3

The purpose of this phase is for the children to learn 25 more graphemes. These consist of single, two letter (diagraph) and three letter (triagraph) sounds such as /j/ /ch/ and /igh/. They will continue to practice their blending and segmenting skill to read and spell words and caption with all known graphemes. They will also be taught 12 more tricky words such as he, they and my. 

Phase 4

The focus of this phase is to practice blending and segmenting words that have

  • Adjacent consonants such as CCVC and CVCC e.g. spot, trip, milk, pond.
  • Polysyllabic words which are words with two or more syllables e.g. chicken, windmill, sandpit.

Children will also learn more tricky words such as said, have and like. Many children will start to recognise words automatically, without needing to decode them.

Phase 5

The children will learn new graphemes and alternative pronunciation for these. For example in phase 3 they learn the /ee/ grapheme. They will learn in phase 5 we can also represent it with the grapheme /ea/ /ey/ /e-e/ /y/ and /ie/. In this phase the children will learn split digraphs such as a-e in cake. They will also learn more tricky words such as people, asked and called.

End of Year 1

Through their phonics teaching, children at the end of year 1 should have mastered a range of phonics skills including:

  • Identify and say a sound for a grapheme
  • Identify all grapheme for a sound
  • Read and spell words of up to three syllables
  • Read and spell most of the 100 high frequency words
  • Form letters starting and ending in the correct place

Phonics Screening Check

At the end of Year 1, children will complete the Phonics Screening Check. This is to check whether children are able to decode words to an expected standard. The children are asked to read 40 words, which are made up of real and nonsense words. 

Phase 6

Once children reach phase 6, they should be able to read hundreds of words using a number of strategies including:

  • Reading them by sight
  • Decoding a word quickly and in their head
  • Decoding them aloud

Phase 6 covers a range of different skills to further the phonics learning. This include:

  • Adding prefixes and suffixes e.g. un and ing
  • Contractions e.g. It is becoming it’s
  • Using past tense
  • Plurals
  • Teaching strategies to learn high frequency and topic words e.g. double tt in getting
  • Proofreading
  • Using dictionaries

Structure of lessons

Each EY and KS1 child will be taught phonics in a 20 minute daily session. The lesson is sequenced into

  • Revisit and review- Practice previously learnt graphemes, tricky words and blending and segmentation
  • Teach- Children are taught new grapheme and tricky words
  • Practise- Practice blending and segmenting words with new grapheme
  • Apply- Apply new grapheme in different context such as writing a sentence

Methods of teaching

We use a range of teaching methods and games to teach phonics. The children enjoy the variety of games they get to play. These could also be played at home. Our methods and games include:

  • Bingo
  • Phonics play games such as buried treasure
  • Read and roll
  • Sorting real and nonsense words
  • Phoneme spotter
  • Noughts and crosses
  • Read and draw
  • Treasure hunts
  • I spy
  • Guess the picture
  • 1 minute challenges
  • Countdown