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What is Phonics?

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

  • Develop their speaking and listening skills
  • Become attuned into sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills
  • Recognise the sounds (phonemes) that written letters (graphemes) make
  • Identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make - such as 'sh' (two letters = digraph) and 'igh' (three letters = trigraph)
  • Blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word

Children can then use this knowledge to decode new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.

The children are taught to read words by blending, which means pushing all the sounds together to make a word. The children are taught to spell words by segmenting, which means sounding out words and writing down the sounds they can hear.

Phonics at Burnley Road Academy

At Burnley Road Academy, Phonics is taught daily to all children in Nursery, Reception and Key Stage One (and sometimes in Year 3). We teach Phonics in the order stated in the Letters and Sounds documentation. Children in Nursery begin Phase 1 and throughout their time in Foundation Stage and Key Stage One, children will complete all 6 phases. Throughout the programme children are given opportunities to review, practise and apply what they have learned through writing and reading practise.

Phonics teaching strategies are consistent throughout Foundation Stage and Key Stage One.  We are aware of the current situation surrounding Phonics validation and are continuing to monitor this and any validated schemes that become available. Until then, when teaching Phonics, we use a range of strategies, resources and programmes, including online resources, to develop children’s knowledge, skills and application. These include Ruth Miskin sound cards for letter formation, Phonics Play, Twinkl PowerPoints and reading books, Smart Kids Phonics resources, Spelling Shed, Alphablocks, robot arms, sound buttons and more! These Phonics strategies are used to help children tune into sounds, pre-teach sounds, consolidate previous knowledge and to support children in using their Phonics to read and write simple sentences. We will keep this under review.

Children working at Phase 2, 3, 4 and 5 use Phonics Play assessment sheets after each Phase is taught to monitor progress, plan next steps and match the appropriate phase reading book. They are carried out 1:1 and are sometimes used to assess intervention groups. They track the reading and spelling of different phonemes, graphemes, digraphs and words for each Phonics phase. In Year 2, children are continually assessed against the End of Key Stage One statutory assessment for reading alongside the SAT paper. These children also have weekly spelling tests. Where children are not meeting the expected standard in Phonics, carefully planned and targeted interventions are put in place. These take place in small groups or 1:1. 

Children working within Phase 5 or below, have phonically decodable books that match their current Phonics knowledge. They contain sounds that have been taught in school and words they can decode.

Expectations for each Year Group:

Foundation Stage- Children in this year group will cover Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3 and Phase 4. At the end of Reception, children are expected to be secure in Phase 3 and have experienced Phase 4.

Year One- Children in this year group will cover Phase 3, Phase 4 and Phase 5. By the end of Year One, children are expected to be secure in Phase 5.

Year Two- Children in this year group will cover Phase 6 and spelling patterns. When finishing Key Stage 1, children should be secure in Phase 6, which incorporates some additional spelling rules and patterns.

Take a look at our Phonics information PowerPoint below and our 'Phonics in a Nutshell' summary document.. 

Phonics in a Nutshell(1)Phonics in a nutshell 2(1)

Useful links

Letters and Sounds 


Teach Your Monster To Read https://www.teachyourmonstertoread.com/

A guide to pronouncing phonemes 

Alphabet rhyme 

Phase 1 'Silly Soup' support video by Miss Brennan (Lockdown 2020)

Phase 1 'Metal Mike' support video by Miss Brennan (Lockdown 2020)

Some of our wonderful resources

Phase 2 sounds

Phase 3 sounds


Phase 5 sounds

Phase 5 alternate sounds

Coming soon...

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