At Eaton Park Academy, we want every child to be a successful, fluent reader and writer. We believe this is achievable through a combination of strong, high quality, fast paced, discrete phonics teaching combined with regular, daily opportunities for developing reading skills. We use a method of teaching called ‘synthetic phonics’ to help children learn to read and spell. On this page you will find information on what synthetic phonics (known to the children as ‘phonics’) is and how you can help your child develop this vital skill.
Phonics is one method of teaching children how to read and write. It’s all about sounds, which are in words. There are 44 sounds in the English language, which we put together to form words. Some sounds are represented by one letter, like ‘t’, while some by two or more, like ‘ck’ in duck and ‘air’ in chair.
Children are taught the sounds first, then how to match them to letters, and finally how to use the letter sounds for reading and spelling.
Synthetic phonics refers to ‘synthesising’, or blending, the sounds to read words. It’s based on the idea that children should sound out unknown words and not rely on their context (using t robot movement for each sound).
The 44 sounds (phonemes) of the English language, and the way in which they are written down, are taught one by one. The order of teaching these sounds has been specially developed so that children can start reading complete words as soon as possible (from the second or third term in Nursery).
A phonics lesson begins with revising any sounds the children have already been taught. Then the teacher will introduce a new sound and its spelling, before moving on to writing those new sounds in words and then applying them in sentences.
At Eaton Park Academy, we follow the six phases of ‘Letters and Sounds: Principles and Practice of High Quality Phonics’, across the EYFS and Key Stage One phases. This guidance is supported with the carefully selected resources from Read Write Inc. At Eaton Park, Phonics is taught daily beginning in Nursery starting with Phases 1 and 2. This initially introduces children to sounds around them and starts to link sounds to letters. Reception secures understanding of Phase 2 and Phase 3, with children applying these phase skills in both their reading and writing. Once Phase 4 has been initially taught, Phase 5 is then unpicked throughout Year 1. During Year 1, pupils will complete a Phonics Screening Check in which they are expected to read real and nonsense words to show that they are able to read Phase 5 sounds accurately. Our Phase 5 teaching not only prepares them for this Phonics Screening Check but also explores how these sounds are applied in both texts that we read and words that we write. By the end of Year 2, children should be proficient in their phonics knowledge and have completed Phase 6 of Letters and Sounds. Once proficient in phonics, children in Year 2 will access the school’s spelling scheme. If children are not proficient in phonics by the end of Year 2, they will continue to receive daily phonics lessons in Year 3 in addition to additional phonics intervention and reading. In EYFS, the children have access to phonically decodable books to further apply and embed learning at home. In KS1, children have access to a combination of phonically decodable books (in line with the sound(s) being taught) and banded books to apply reading strategies to different texts.
Phonics Screening Check – Year 1 and 2
During the month of June, all year one children are required to take a short phonics screening assessment to check their understanding of phonics. Their regular teacher, in a familiar room and with familiar resources, completes the statutory check in school. The result of the phonics screening will be available in your child’s end of year report. If your child did not meet the expected standard in phonics at the end of Year 1, they will have the opportunity to complete the assessment the following year, in Year 2 as a re-sit.
Helping your child with phonics
Below are links to some excellent videos made by a teacher called Mr Thorne. Each link relates to the individual sounds and blends, which are taught in each phase of ‘Letters and Sounds’. If you are unsure how to help your child with phonics, we recommend looking at the videos, which relate to the stage, which your child is on as they provide a guide on how to help your child learn each sound.
The following websites may also provide additional help and support, should you wish to look.
Phonics Play – this is a subscription website. We have paid for in school use and the children are familiar with the games on it. Unfortunately, the subscription does not extend to home use, but individual subscriptions are available to purchase. Some games are free to play.