At The Lancaster School, we value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our children to become lifelong readers and have a love of literature.
We recognise that mastery in phonics is fundamental to children being able to access a broad range of fiction and non-fiction texts across the curriculum. We aim to achieve this by teaching phonics systematically with a relentless drive to address the needs of all learners.
We use synthetic phonics and follow the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme; this is a method of learning letter sounds and blending them together to read and write words.
As part of this, children have daily phonics sessions in small groups where they participate in speaking, listening and spelling activities that are matched to their phonics phase and developing needs. The teachers draw upon observations and continuous assessment to ensure children are stretched and challenged and to identify children who may need additional support. Children work through the different phases, learning and developing their phonics sounds and knowledge.
The table below is a summary based on the Letters and Sounds guidance.
Phonic Knowledge and Skills
Phase One (Nursery)
Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.
Phase Two (Reception) up to 6 weeks
Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.
Phase Three (Reception) up to 12 weeks
The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.
Phase Four (Reception) 4 to 6 weeks
No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.
Phase Five (Throughout Year 1)
Now we move on to the "complex code". Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.
Phase Six (Throughout Year 2 and beyond)
Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.
Reading books are fully phonetically decodable and linked to the phonics phase the child is on so their learning is practised and reinforced at home. Children keep their book until they become fluent in reading it. Our reading books are organised into Phonics Phases. Children move through the Book Phases until they reach the required standard to become a Free-Reader, choosing a book to read from our class libraries. Children are able to take an additional book home, which encourages them to read for pleasure.
The Phonics Screening Check
The National Phonics Screening Check is performed in June of Year 1. The purpose of the screening check is to confirm that all children have learned phonic decoding to an age-appropriate standard. The children who did not meet the required standard for the check in year 1 enter again in year 2 with additional support.