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What is Phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language.

Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of individual letters and how those letters sound when they’re combined will help children decode words as they read.


Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing words.

Phonics involves matching the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters. For example, the sound k can be spelled as c, k, ck or ch.

Teaching children to blend the sounds of letters together helps them decode unfamiliar or unknown words by sounding them out. For example, when a child is taught the sounds for the letters tpa and s, they can start to build up the words: “tap”, “taps”, “pat”, “pats” and “sat”.

What is phonics? | Oxford Owl

How do we teach phonics at Wolverley?

At Wolverley Sebright Primary Academy, we aim to develop each child so that they are able to read fluently and confidently as well as enriching their vocabulary and developing a love of reading. To this aim, we are committed to ensuring the delivery of excellence in the teaching of Phonics.


To deliver phonics, we use the Floppy’s Phonics programme. This programme is a content-rich systematic synthetic phonics programme that allows for a two-pronged approach to teaching phonics. It allows for a focused phonics provision along with integration and sustained support in the wider curriculum. 

The Floppy’s Phonics programme teaches the letter/s-sound correspondences of the English alphabetic code explicitly and comprehensively for reading and spelling. It includes the characters of Floppy the dog, Biff, Chip and Kipper and their family and friends, which engages children fully for the phonics teaching & learning, vocabulary enrichment and language comprehension

Initially children's listening skills are developed through the use of music, environmental sounds and rhyme. During their journey through the Reception and Key Stage 1 they are taught the 44 phonemes (sounds) that make up all the sounds required for reading and spelling. These phonemes include those made by just one letter 'b as in bed' and those that are made by two 'ai as in rain or three letters 'igh as in high'. 

Children are taught the key skills of blending and segmenting to be able to read and write. 

As the children grow in confidence and experience, they are introduced to alternative ways of representing the same sound, eg 'ee' can be represented as 'ee as in bee', 'ea as in tea', 'e-e as in theme' and 'e as in we'. They also learn when to apply simple spelling rules and use verbs in the correct tense. 


We ensure that our teaching of phonics is rigorous, structured and enjoyable. In Reception to Year 2, children have discrete, daily phonics sessions where they are introduced to new phonemes, explore, practise and revise previous learning and have plenty of opportunities to apply the knowledge they have.

What terminology and strategies are used?

It is very important that children are exposed to the correct terminology so they understand correctly what they are learning and can articulate where they are struggling. All staff understand and use the following terminology with children when teaching.

Phoneme/ Sound

The smallest identifiable sound of speech.

Grapheme / Code

The letter/s used to represent the sound.


A phoneme represented by 2 letters (e.g. ch, sh, oa, ay)


A phoneme represented by 3 letters (e.g. igh, ear)

Split Digraph

Two letters that represent one phoneme but are split by another letter (e.g. a-e in cake)


When reading a word, identify the graphemes in the word and say the corresponding sounds in order to hear the word as a whole. E.g. read sh – o – p = shop


When spelling a word, break it down into the sounds you hear and write the grapheme for each identified sound. E.g. say shop = writing sh – o – p


Breaking a word down into sounds to be able to read it.


Breaking a word down into sounds to be able to spell it.

Sight words

These are common or high frequency words with unusual spelling rules which means they can’t be decoded easily. Children will learn to recognise these words by sight and be able to recall them with automaticity.

Helpful words

These are a list of words that the children will frequently encounter in their reading as well as words that are covered as part of the Floppy’s Phonics Helpful Words Poster.

In addition to the specific terminology used,  children are also modelled blending and oral segmenting core strategies to develop their understanding of phonemes and graphemes. Opportunities are provided for children to practise these skills independently to secure their knowledge.

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