What is phonics?
The information below is taken directly from the DfE ‘Learning to read through phonics - Information for parents' sheet:
Phonics is a way of teaching children to read skillfully. They are taught how to:
Children can then use this knowledge to ‘decode’ new words that they see or hear. This is the first important step in learning to read.
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. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7. 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 any kind of text fluently and confidently, and read for enjoyment.
Our Approach to the teaching of Phonics
At Loxley Primary School, we use PhonicsPlay and the Jolly Phonics actions to support the teaching of phonics. The children in both Reception and Year 1 have daily 15-20 minute teacher-led phonics sessions as well as independent activities to reinforce their phonics skills and knowledge. In June, the children in Year 1 will usually then complete the statutory Year 1 Phonics Screening Check.
What is the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check?
The Phonics Screening Check is meant to show how well your child can use the phonics skills they’ve learned up to the end of Year 1, and to identify children who need extra phonics help. The Department for Education defines the checks as “short, light-touch assessments” that take about four to nine minutes to complete.
The checks consist of 40 words and non-words that your child will be asked to read one-on-one with a teacher. Non-words (or nonsense words, or pseudo words) are a collection of letters that will follow phonics rules your child has been taught, but don’t mean anything – your child will need to read these with the correct sounds to show that they understand the phonics rules behind them.
The 40 words and non-words are divided into two sections – one with simple word structures of three or four letters, and one with more complex word structures of five or six letters. The teacher administering the check with your child will give them a few practice words to read first – including some non-words – so they understand more about what they have to do. Each of the non-words is presented with a picture of a monster/alien, as if the word were their name (and so your child doesn't think the word is a mistake because it doesn't make sense!).