Phonics and Early Reading

What is phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language.

Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of individual letters and how those letters sound when they’re combined will help children decode words as they read.

Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing words.

Phonics involves matching the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters. For example, the sound k can be spelled as c, k, ck or ch.

Teaching children to blend the sounds of letters together helps them decode unfamiliar or unknown words by sounding them out. For example, when a child is taught the sounds for the letters tpa and s, they can start to build up the words: “tap”, “taps”, “pat”, “pats” and “sat”.

How is phonics taught at Highfields?

At Highfields Primary Academy, the teaching of early reading and phonics has a high priority throughout the academy and phonics is taught daily to children in Early Years, Year 1 and to those in Year 2 who have not passed the Phonics Screening Check. 

Children are systematically taught the relationship between sounds and the written spelling patterns that represent them. Phonics is largely delivered in a whole class format, through the validated Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) systematic, synthetic phonics programme (SSP). Intervention is planned for those children who are working below expected levels.  In Phonics sessions, children have the opportunity to review, learn, practise and apply their learning.  Teachers use technical terminology when teaching phonics such as “phoneme”, “grapheme”, “digraph” and “trigraph”.  The terms are used consistently throughout the academy.

We believe that all pupils, by the end of Key Stage One, should be confident in hearing environmental sounds, orally segmenting, blending words and developing confidence in their fluency.

Our aims in the teaching of phonics are:

  • To ensure pupils are able to access texts linked to their current phonological awareness.
  • To develop enthusiastic and fluent readers.
  • To provide fidelity within all aspect of phonics and early reading.
  • To foster a love of reading and inspire pupils through inspiring storytelling.