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Reading @ Ecclesfield: Phonics Information 

On this page we will be giving you some information about the way that phonics is taught in Ecclesfield Primary School. We use the Letters and Sounds document to support our teaching of phonics.

What is "Phonics" and why teach it? 

"Phonics" is the name we use for the ‘blending’ of sounds together to read, and ‘segmenting’ sounds to spell. They are both complimentary and interlinking skills that are taught together. It encourages children to sound out the individual parts of words rather than recognising the whole word and reading it for meaning (although these are also skills that are taught at school).


At its simplest, pupils are taught to read the letters in a word like d-o-g, and merge them to pronounce the word dog.


The vocabulary of phonics... 

You may hear your children use some vocabulary that you are not familiar with that they have learnt in their phonics lessons....


What is a phoneme?


A "phoneme" is the smallest unit of sound that we use in the English language. Sometimes these are made up of one letter (similar to the traditional "alphabet sounds" that you probably learnt at school – s, a, t, p, i, n for example.


Sometimes the sounds are made up from two letters (as in sh, ch, th, ay, ar).

These are known as "digraphs" (Think of a dialogue between 2 people to remember this word)


The sounds can even be made by three letters (as in air, ear, ure).

These are known as "trigraphs" (Think of a triangle with 3 sides to remember this word)


What is a grapheme?


A "grapheme" is the way we spell or write a phoneme (a sound)


Some sounds only have one grapheme (Simple letters like b, d, s, or t for example) 


Some sounds have several different spellings –for example or can be spelt ‘or’ in torn, ‘aw’ in claw, ‘au’ in naughty or ore in more. We often call these "sound families" and it is one reason that English is so hard to spell. Think of the name "Paul" for example. Why shouldn't it be spelt "Porl" or "Pawl" ?


The children will begin by learning the most common grapheme for each phoneme, but as they progress through the school they will taught the less common spelling alternatives and encouraged to try and choose the correct grapheme for a particular word they are trying to spell. 


What is a consonant blend?


Simply this is part of a word made up of two or three phonemes blended together.


Examples include sc, sm, bl, pr, str.


You don't read "strap" as "s-t-r-a-p" - You blend the sounds together so that they make more sense.


What are short and long vowel sounds?


"Short" means that you hear the "sound" of the vowel - Think of "a" in "cat"

"Long" means that you hear the "name" of the vowel - Think of "ay" in "day" or "oa" in "boat"


What is taught in each year group? 

Children in Foundation Stage (Reception) learn how to blend and segment words using the sounds they are learning.


In Year 1, the children build on their knowledge and begin to look and learn to blend and segment alternative phonemes and digraphs.


In Year 2, the children consolidate what they have learnt and are encouraged to apply this in their own writing.


Of course, all children develop at different speeds - so it isn't unusual to find children in Key Stage 2 that are also working on phonics in some way. Teachers will ensure that children that require additional support will get it.