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Phonics Scheme and Handwriting

At St John's, children in EYFS and KS1 are taught phonics following the 'Letters and Sounds' resource published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. Children are taught phonics on a daily basis dependent on the phonic phase they are assessed to be working at. As a school, teachers are supported in their phonics teaching with a scheme of work.

What is phonics?

Words are made up from small units of sound called phonemes. Phonics teaches children to be able to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. This helps children to learn to read words and to spell words

In phonics lessons children are taught three main things:


They are taught GPCs. This stands for grapheme phoneme correspondences. This simply means that they are taught all the phonemes in the English language and ways of writing them down. These sounds are taught in a particular order. The first sounds to be taught are s, a, t, p.


Children are taught to be able to blend. This is when children say the sounds that make up a word and are able to merge the sounds together until they can hear what the word is. This skill is vital in learning to read.


Children are also taught to segment. This is the opposite of blending. Children are able to say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up. This skill is vital in being able to spell words.


What makes phonics tricky?

In some languages learning phonics is easy because each phoneme has just one grapheme to represent it. The English language is a bit more complicated than this. This is largely because England has been invaded so many times throughout its history. Each set of invaders brought new words and new sounds with them. As a result, English only has around 44 phonemes but there are around 120 graphemes or ways of writing down those 44 phonemes. Obviously we only have 26 letters in the alphabet so some graphemes are made up from more than one letter.

ch th oo ay (these are all digraphs - graphemes with two letters)

There are other graphemes that are trigraphs (made up of 3 letters) and even a few made from 4 letters.

Another slightly sticky problem is that some graphemes can represent more than one phoneme. For example ch makes very different sounds in these three words: chip, school, chef.

How is phonics taught?

At St. John's, phonics is taught every day for approximately 20 -25 minutes. In Reception, it is taught from 1-1:25pm every day, and in KS1, it taught from 9-9:25am. Children are streamed into Phonic Phase ability groups (Phases 1-6). This is to enable teachers to deliver high-quality lessons to meet individual needs. At the end of each half term, pupils' phonetic understanding is assessed and groups are reviewed to support progression through the phases. 

A typical lesson is structured as follows:

Recap Revisiting phonemes, grapheme, digraph etc words already taught from the current and previous phase.
Recap Recap high-frequency words some of these are decodable and children can apply their phonics to read them, others are trickier and may not follow any phonic pattern. Pupils must learn how to read and spell these by the end of KS1 (Please see document attached) 




A new 'sound' is taught, children look at the letter combinations and begin to identify the 'sound' in both real and pseudo (fake) words. 

Pupils will have the opportunity to apply their new learning, this can come in a variety of forms such as:

  • Reading words and/or passages containing the words with the new 'sound'
  • Playing a range of phonic games
  • Looking at rhymes with phonic patterns 
  • Holding and writing a sentence
Assessment The teacher will assess pupils throughout the lesson to check their understanding and application of the new sounds being taught. 

Phonics Sound Mats - Phase 2, 3 and 5


How can I help my child at home?



Help your child to correctly pronounce (say) the sounds they are learning:



Learn the vocab!


Your child(ren) will be learning specific phonic vocabulary, it is important that you understand the vocabulary so that you can support them in their learning. 



Alphablocks is a great series, which can be found on cbbebies, or on YouTube, it is an animated way to learn and apply new phonic learning. 



Mr T's Phonics

Mr T's phonics

Mr T is a primary school teacher who has a YouTube channel, this video's feature Geraldine the giraffe, who is always on the hunt for new sounds, sometimes she gets up to mischief! 



Phonics Play


Phonics Play is a lovely interactive website containing lots of games across Phases 1-6. Children can apply their phonic knowledge when reading both real and fake words.


Tricky (Sight) Words


High frequency words are quite simply those words which occur most frequently in written material. Some of these words can be sounded out using basic phonic rules, e.g. "it", however, many of the high frequency words are not phonically regular and are therefore hard to read in the early stages. These words are sometimes called tricky words or sight words.

KS1 Phonics Screening Check

Each year, we hold a Phonics Workshop for our parents and carers. This helps to develop your understanding of Phonics so that you can support your child at home, but also gives you an understanding of Phonics Screening Test that pupils sit at the end of Y1 or resit in Y2.

Phonics Screening Check explained:

Please take some time to watch this short clip explaining the purpose of the Phonics Screening Check.


Phonics Workshop

We have also attached the Phonics information presentation. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the school and ask for support



Here is a helpful link when getting ready for the Phonics Screening Check.


Cursive Handwriting


Research has shown that the use of a continuous cursive handwriting style plays a significant role in:

  • Development of fine motor skills
  • Learning spelling patterns - recalling spelling patterns with automaticity.
  • Focus on the content and structure of writing rather than the disconnected process of letter recollection.
  • Increased retention
  • The brain thinks more rapidly and fluently in whole words than in single letters where the pen is lifted off the page much more frequently.
  • Encourages fluidity of thought processes when writing and is also much quicker.
  • Develops hand/eye coordination and motor skills which can help develop skills in other areas of life and work.

The documents below can be used to support your child with their handwriting.


A short video clip explaining how to form letters correctly. Entry and exit flicks are important, these help children to later join letters and aid fluidity in their writing. 

Cursive_Handwriting_-_How_to_Write_the_Alphabet_-_With_Instructions[Youtubetomp3.sc].mp4letter families
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