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What is phonics and how is it taught?

Here at HCCPS we teach daily phonics lessons in EYFS, KS1 and to some pupils in KS2. At our school we all follow the same systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP) to ensure there is consistent coverage and provision across all year groups to allow children to make good progress in reading and spelling. Synthetic phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. 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”. 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 not only allow children to read but will also help them 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. Once children have completed the SSP phonics programme they move onto daily spelling lessons following the No Nonsense Spelling programme. This starts in year 2 and continues into year 6. 


Phonics Jargon Buster:


Phoneme: The smallest unit of sound in a word eg cat c-a-t has 3 phonemes and so  does ship sh-i-p


Grapheme: A letter or group of letter representing one sound eg a, ch, igh


Blend: This is often known as 'sounding out' and it is when you put sounds together to read a word.


Segment: To split up a word into its individual phonemes in order to spell it.


Digraph: Two letters making one sound eg sh, ch, th


Vowel Digraph: Two vowels that make one sounds e.g ou, ai, oa


Trigraph: Three letters making one sound eg igh, ure, ear


Spit digraph: Two letters, split, making one sound eg a-e as in make


CVC word:  a word with a consonant sound followed by a vowel sound and then a final consonant sounds

Phoneme mats (great to have as a reference when reading or writing to segment words)

How to help with phonics at home


The best way to support your child with their phonetic development is to read their reading book that changes weekly. It is matched to suit their individual needs and runs alongside what they are learning in their phonics lesson. 

For fun phonics games see link below: 

Username: Hardwick_cambourne 

Password: phonics


Please also look at the videos below to support your child with pronunciation at home

Sounds of the English Phonic Code

This reading specialist demonstrates how to pronounce the sounds of the English Phonic Code, when teaching children to read with Synthetic Phonics.