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How We Teach Phonics

Why teach systematic synthetic phonics?

A solid foundation in reading is critical to a child’s success – a child who can read can learn. Whilst at Lee Brigg Infant and Nursery School, we know that there is far more to teaching reading than just the teaching of phonics, however, there is also a weight of evidence that shows systematic synthetic phonics taught in the first years of a child’s education gives them the key building blocks they need to understand and read words. It underpins children’s attainment of a good standard of reading and can inspire a lifelong love of reading.


See also How we teach Reading and our English curriculum page.


Phonics focuses on sounds. Through a programme of synthetic phonics teaching children start reading by sequencing the individual sounds in words with an emphasis on blending them together. The synthetic part comes from the word ‘synthesis’ meaning to assemble or blend together.


Children who learn synthetic phonics are equipped from a very early stage of development with the tools to have a go at reading. They are motivated to attack new words working from learned sounds.

At Lee Brigg Infant and Nursery School, phonics is a focussed teaching strategy based on the sequenced, progressive and systematic principles from Letters and Sounds. This teaches children how the alphabet works for reading and spelling and is taught as a discrete 20 – 30 minute session each day throughout Phases 1 – 5.


The Phonics Lesson

Knowledge of letters and sounds begins once children enter the nursery.


A pacey phonics lesson is taught in each class from Reception year to Year 1 every day – starting promptly at 9:00am and lasting for approximately 20 minutes. There is a consistent approach across school so that all children are familiar with the structure of the phonics lesson. Each session begins with a brief reteach to address any misconceptions from the previous day identified by the teacher, before new learning is taught, practised and applied in sentence reading and writing.


Phonics sessions are taught through whole class, small and targeted groups, to ensure that all children are challenged and supported. We have explicit expectations for the teaching of phonics in each year group for each term. Through daily assessment for learning, individual children are pinpointed who may need additional support and bespoke interventions are then planned to enable these children to keep up with their peers.


There are also opportunities throughout the year for parents and carers to attend phonics training sessions, observe how phonics is taught and are given the knowledge required to best support their child with reading at home. Children who are consistently secure at phase 5 move onto the National Curriculum Spelling Scheme in Year 2.


Please click here for an overview of the phases.
Please click here for further information on each phase.


It is our expectation that the vast majority of children will be secure at phase 3 by the end of the reception year. This is the national benchmark. Children who reach this milestone are described as being ‘school ready’ in terms of their phonic knowledge and understanding.


By the end of the Reception year, children should be able to
• read and understand simple sentences.
• use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately.
• read some common irregular words (tricky words).
• demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read.
• use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds.
• write some irregular common words (tricky words).
• write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others.
• spell some words correctly and others are which are phonetically plausible.


It is our expectation that most children will be secure at phase 5 by the end of year 1. This is described as the age related expectation for the end of Year 1 and forms the content for the Phonic Screening Check in the summer term.


In year 2 it is expected that children have progressed through the phonics phases 1 to 5 and from then are taught ‘spelling rules’ in line with the National Curriculum programme of study.


Throughout Key Stage 1 weekly spellings will be sent home for the children to learn as part of their homework.


National Curriculum Spelling Work for Year 1 and Year 2


From time to time children may experience difficulties or have misconceptions. In such situations, extra sessions are taught as an intervention, to enable children to catch up and keep up with their peers.

Similarly, some children learn better after a short pre-teach session and so these are planned as and when required to support individual needs.


Please find the time to read / watch this important phonics information in order to be able to support your child further

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