What is Phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. They are taught how to:

  • recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
  • identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make – such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’; and
  • blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word. Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.

Why Phonics?

Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching children to read.

Children who have been taught phonics also tend to read more accurately than those taught using other methods, such as ‘look and say’. This includes children who find learning to read difficult, for example those who have dyslexia.

Phonics at Fossebrook

In EYFS and Year 1, we teach phonics through the StoryTime Phonics programme which teaches children the skills they need to learn to read and write within the context of real books and which is designed to give children a love of books and reading. We believe all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment.

The programme engages children through interactive storytelling of books and provides actions for each phoneme to teach and reinforce the 44 phonemes they need to learn. The programme also teaches the common words children will come across when reading and also encourages children to become aware of rhyme, alliteration and the rhythm of language.

StoryTime phonics is an inclusive, synthetic, whole class phonics, reading and writing programme which is based on letters and sounds. Talking bookmarks are used to encourage children to talk about the stories and develop a rich understanding of text.

The programme teaches four sounds a week, with Mondays used as a consolidation and revision session of previous learning. Phonics lessons are taught every day for 20 minutes. Further sessions are planned where necessary to give children extra practise and consolidation.

In EYFS phonemes are learnt in the following order:

Introduction: develop awareness of sounds and rhythms, listen to initial sounds and discriminate between them. Be aware of sounds in the environment
Introduction: develop awareness of rhythm and rhyme in speech. Develop understanding of alliteration.
WeekPhonemesHigh Frequency Words
1s, a, t, p 
2i, n, m, dis, in, it, at
3g, o, c, kand
4ck, e, u, rto, the
5h, b, f, lI, be, no, go, has
6ss, j, v, w 
7x, y, z, ch 
8sh, th, ng, aihe, she, went, not, as, mum, dad, don’t
9ee, qu, igh, oawe, me, be, said, so
10short oo, long oo, ar, orwas, your, people, oh, are, or, like, do, about, look, then, them, it’s
11ur, ow, oi, earhave, out, when, my, looked
12air, ure, er 


WeekPhonemesHigh Frequency Words, reading and spelling
1ay, ou, i-e, eacame, made, make, gave, place, are, there, where, were, out, your
2oy, ir, wh, a, as, othe, who, wouldn’t, couldn’t, your, be, people, oh, no, go, they, said, come, some, like, so
3as, s, air (are, ear, ere)where, bear, there’s, we’re
4a-e, oosee, will, back, from, him, get, came, made, make, gave, place
5J as g, l as le, ai as a, ee as elittle, one, Mr, they, love, says, what, oh, we, me, be, she
6Alternative pronunciations of i, o, u, yLittle, one, Mr, they, once, ask, was, what, ere, have, our
7oa, as, owwhat, were, was, have, push, pull, full, oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked, would, could should.
8j as ‘dge’, z as ‘se’, k and sh as ‘ch’little, one, Mr, they, friend, school, well, fell, still, tell, looked, called
9m/mb, n/kn/gn, r/wrOld, I’m, by, about, your, day, made, came, here, very, put oh, their, Mrs, looked, called, askes, little, could, was, what, were, have
10ay, ea, e-e, y, i-e, o-eare, there, whaere, were, he, she, be, little, one, Mr, they
11ew, u-e, ooare, there, where, were, little, one, Mr, they
12ar as ‘a’, or as ‘au’ ‘al’ ‘aw’are, there, where, were, little, one, Mr, they
13ur as ‘ir’, ‘er’, ‘ear’, ‘or’are, there, where, were, little, one, Mr, they
14ou alternative pronunciation oi/oy spellings 
15ure, er, phBecause, even, cat, mother, better, over, after, never, could, good, book, couldn’t, fun, took, looking, no, have, some, were, when, go, like, come, there, what, so, one, little, do, out
16ph, ooCold, good, took, couldn’t, fun, book, looking, and, like, do, about, because, even, cat, mother, over, after, never

The programme is supplemented by Phonics Play, which is also based on Letters and Sounds. Phonics Play is the key programme used in Year Two to practise and reinforce previous learning and to develop children’s understanding of spelling patterns.

There are games and activities on these websites which will support your children’s learning at home:

Oxford Owl

BBC Deep Sea Phonics

Phonics Play

Letters and Sounds

Family Learning