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Heymann Primary & Nursery School

Inspiring and motivating our children
to be the best they can be

Our Approach to teaching Phonics

Our aim is for the children to have a regular access to high quality phonics teaching which secures the crucial skills of word recognition that enables children to read fluently, freeing them to concentrate on the meaning of the text.

Synthetic phonics is taught daily following the Letters and Sounds programme using THRASS as a tool to teach it. Pupils are taught a balanced programme which develops understanding of the alphabetic code, the phonemes of the English Language and their corresponding graphemes and skills in segmenting phonemes for spelling and blending them for reading. There are opportunities to reinforce and apply phonic knowledge and skills across the curriculum. Children’s progress is carefully monitored to ensure progression. Towards the end of Y1 and throughout Y2 this phonics learning leads seamlessly into teaching and learning of spelling, which continues throughout KS2. 

We engage parents in the teaching of phonics via curriculum meetings, support resources and homework.


Supporting Your Child with Phonics


In order to read successfully, children need two skills; phonics and language comprehension. They need to be able to decode by blending the sounds in words to read them and they need to be able to understand what the word means and the context within which it appears. 

 Phonics is a means to an end. The sooner that children can recognise the sounds (phonemes), the letters (graphemes) that represent them and blend them together in order to read words, the sooner they can read for understanding, purpose and pleasure. 



Language development

Understanding is developed through language. The exploration and explicit teaching of new vocabulary, ideas, information and increasing knowledge and understanding of the world will develop comprehension.  If children understand something that they hear, they will understand it when they read.  Therefore, phonics and language development should go hand-in-hand. However, for beginner readers, phonics takes the lead as the prime approach to reading.

 Talk! Talk! Talk! Talk about people, places, events, stories, information and ideas. Encourage children to question and explore themes, problems and issues. Use books, photographs, paintings, films, role-play and creativity to generate discussion and vocabulary.

 What is phonics?


  • a method of teaching children to connect the letters of the alphabet to the sounds that they make and blend them for reading;
  • a method of teaching children to identify the individual sounds (phonemes) within words and segment them for spelling.

The 26 letters of the alphabet represent the sounds In English speech sounds. These letters and combinations of these letters make 44 sounds.


Speech sounds are called phonemes. These are the smallest units of sounds within words. The letters, or groups of letters which represent phonemes, are called graphemes. Phonemes can be represented by graphemes of one, two or three letters: 

t      sh (digraph)    igh (trigraph)

 Consonant digraphs are made up of two consonants that make one sound:

sh ch th ck ng ll ss ff wr wh kn gn

 Vowel digraphs are made up of two vowels or a vowel and a consonant that makes one sound

oo ee oa ow ou or ar er ue oi ai


44 Phonemes ~ British Received Pronunciation Consonant Phonemes

There are about 144 different ways to spell these sounds. (See more examples on a THRASS chart)

It is very important that these phonemes are articulated precisely and accurately. Phonemes should be enunciated as a pure, clean sound. There should be no extra /er/ sound. This is known as a schwa. If children hear and say the schwa, it makes blending for reading difficult. If a child hears cuh-a-tuh when trying to read cat, the blended word will make no sense.  

 Most consonants should be pronounced in a continuous manner – e.g. ssssss    mmmmmm   llllllll   nnnnnn   shshshsh   rrrrrrr zzzzzzzz vvvvvvv .Some can’t be said like this e.g. /c/  /t/ /p/ /b/ /d/ and /g/) but /c/ /t/ and /p/ should be enunciated without the voice. Phonemes wwwwww and yyyyyyyy are less easy and need practice.

See this link for an example of pure sounds:




Segmenting and Blending:

Segmenting and blending are reversible key phonic skills.

  • -Segmenting (‘chopping’, ‘robot arms’) consists of breaking words down into their separate phonemes to spell; s p e ll.
  • -Blending consists of building (synthesising) words from their separate phonemes c –a- t  cat


 Decoding is the process of blending each phoneme in a word, in order to read the whole word.



Teaching a new GPG (grapheme phoneme correspondence):


Hear it and say it

Say the phoneme accurately and precisely

See it and say it

Recognise the grapheme and say the corresponding phoneme



Say it and write it

Say the phoneme and write the grapheme, forming the letter/s correctly.


Tricky words

 If the word is decodable at the phase the child is working in, they should decode it. If not, the word is a tricky word and should be taught in the same way as any other phonic decoding with a focus on the tricky element;

             eg Oral segmenting with phoneme buttons      s    a i     d                                              

 We know /s/ and we know /d/ but the /ai/ is the tricky bit. It says /e/ So the word says s  e  d (orally segment)  Therefore the child needs to lock in the ai part of said.


We hope you have found this useful. Please look at the more detailed pace and progression in phonics and the overview of Phase 5 teaching for more information of which phonemes are introduced in which order. If you have any other questions, please contact your child’s class teacher.