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What is Phonics? 

Phonics is a method used for teaching children to read letters (graphemes) or groups of letters by saying the sound (phonemes) they represent. 


Vocabulary  Definition 
Digraph A type of grapheme where two letters represent one Phoneme i.e. see.
Grapheme  A letter, or combination of letters, that corresponds to a single phoneme within a word. 
Phoneme A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound. 
Split digraph  Two letters that are not nest to one another i.e. cake.
Trigraph A type of grapheme where three letter represent one phoneme i.e. high.


Phase 5 Teaching Overview 


Phase 5 generally takes children most of Year 1.


Here, we start introducing alternative spellings for sounds, like 'igh'. Children master these in reading first, and as their fluency develops, we begin to see them using them correctly in spelling.

Children learn new grapheme (different ways of spelling each sound) and alternative pronunciations for these: for example, learning that the grapheme ‘ow’ makes a different sound in ‘snow’ and ‘cow’. 

They should become more fluent at blending, and start to do it silently.

They learn about split digraphs such as the a-e in ‘name.’

They’ll start to choose the right graphemes when spelling, and will learn more tricky words, including ‘people,’ ‘water’ and ‘friend’. They also learn one new phoneme: /zh/, as in ‘treasure.’

By the end of Year 1, children should be able to:

  • Say the sound for any grapheme they are shown
  • Write the common graphemes for any given sound (e.g. ‘e,’ ‘ee,’ ‘ie,’ ‘ea’)
  • Use their phonics knowledge to read and spell unfamiliar words of up to three syllables
  • Read all of the 100 high frequency words, and be able to spell most of them
  • Form letters correctly


At the end of Year 1, all children are given a Phonics Screening Check to ensure they have mastered the appropriate knowledge.


What is a the phonic screening check? 


The phonics screening check is taken individually by all children in Year 1 in England, and will be taken WB Monday 6th June 2022. It is designed to give teachers and parents information on how your child is progressing in phonics. It will help to identify whether your child needs additional support at this stage so that they do not fall behind in this vital early reading skill.


What is in the phonics screening check? 


There are two sections in this 40-word check and it assesses phonics skills and knowledge learned through Reception and Year 1. Your child will read up to four words per page for their teacher and they will do the check in one sitting of about 5–10 minutes.


You can see what the phonic screening check looks like here: 


How do I pronounce the phonemes? 

Useful websites: