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What is phonics?
Phonics is how we teach the children to read and write. It teaches children to hear, identify and use different sounds to distinguish one word from another in the English language.

Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of individual letters and how those letters sound when they’re combined, help children decode words as they read.

Understanding Phonics will help children to 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 using k (kite), c (cat), ck (sock), or even ch (echo).

We teach children to blend the sounds of letters together which helps them decode unfamiliar or unknown words by sounding them out.
For example children first learn the sounds s, a, t, p, i, n and they are then able to build up words such as:
s-a-t = sat
 t-i-n = tin
p-a-n-s = pans



At St Stephen’s Infant School we use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised Phonics Programme to plan and provide daily engaging phonics lessons.

Our phonics teaching starts in Foundation Stage and follows a very specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies as they move through school. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might come across.

We also model these strategies in shared reading and writing both inside and outside of Phonics lessons and across the curriculum.


How we teach phonics and Early Reading


  • In Foundation Stage and Year 1, children follow the planned progression within the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds programme.
  • Phonics is taught in a 5 week block, which is followed by an assessment week.
  • Phonics is taught daily, with children learning a new sound Monday-Thursday and having a review session on Fridays.
  • By the end of Foundation Stage, children will have been taught up to the end of Phase 4.
  • By the end of Year 1, children will have been taught up to the end of Phase 5.
  • Children in our current Year 2 cohort will spent the Autumn terms learning 2 blocks of alternate sounds from Phase 5 and new sounds from Phase 6, also following the Little Wandle Programme. If necessary, they will receive Phonics support throughout the year in order to fill any gaps that they may have in their Phonic knowledge.


How do we assess phonic knowledge?


  • At the end of each week’s Phonics lessons, there is a review session which recaps the learning.
  • There are also whole review weeks (pre-planned and bespoke review weeks to address gaps identified by the class teacher’s ongoing formative assessment).
  • Children identified in Foundation Stage, Year 1 and Year 2 as in danger of falling behind are identified and take part in ‘keep up’ sessions which follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
  • In Foundation Stage and Year 1, the children are assessed at the end of every half term using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds assessment tracker.
  • Children in Year 1 complete the government, statutory Phonics Screening Check in the Summer term (please look out for information with regards to the Phonics Screening check as we will have a workshop for parents, as well as support available through Parent Mail and home learning).
  • Children who do not meet standard in the Phonics Screening Check in Year 1, will retake the check in Year 2.


If you are a parent and would like more information about how to support your child with phonics at home, please follow this link to find useful resources including videos of the sound pronunciations.