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What are Phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. They are taught how to:

  •  recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
  • identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make, such as ‘th’ or ‘ee’;
  •  blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.


Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.



Why phonics?

Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read different types of text fluently, confidently and for enjoyment.



What is the phonics screening check?

The phonics screening check is a quick and easy way to assess of your child’s phonics knowledge. It helps your school gauge whether your child has made the expected progress.



How does the screening check work?

  •  Your child will sit with a teacher who he or she knows and be asked to read 40 words aloud.
  •  Your child may have read some of the words before, while others will be completely new.
  • The check normally takes just a few minutes to complete and there is no time limit. If your child is struggling, the teacher will stop the check. The check is carefully designed not to be a stressful experience for your child.



What are ‘pseudo- words’?

The check contains a mix of real words and ‘pseudo-words’ (or ‘nonsensewords’). Your child will be told before the check that there will be 'nonsense-words' that he or she will not have seen before. 


Non-words such as ‘fap’ are important to include because they are new to all children. Children cannot read non-words by using their memory or vocabulary; they have to use their decoding skills. This is a fair way to assess their phonic ability.



Phonic Schemes


Nursery – Letters and Sounds


Letters and Sounds is a phonics resource published by the Department for Education and Skills. 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. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of five, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven.




Reception – Jolly Phonics

Jolly Phonics is a fun and child centred approach to teaching literacy through synthetic phonics. With actions for each of the 42 letter sounds, the multi-sensory method is very motivating for children and teachers, who can see their students achieve. 


For more information please visit the following website:





Years 1 and 2 – LCP Phonics


This is a clear and structured programme which uses synthetic phonic materials and corresponds to Letters and Sounds and Jolly Phonics.