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What is phonics?

Phonics is one method of teaching children how to read and write. Phonics is all about sounds. There are 44 sounds in the English language, which we put together to form words. Some are represented by one letter, like ‘t’, and some by two or more, like ‘ck’ in duck and ‘air’ in chair. Children are taught the sounds first, then how to match them to letters, and finally how to use the letter sounds for reading and spelling. Synthetic phonics refers to ‘synthesising’, or blending, the sounds to read words. It is based on the idea that children should sound out unknown words and not rely on their context.

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 any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment.

Phonics Bug and Bug Club books can be used in school and at home to promote this phonics learning. Phonics Bug books are phonically decodable and are designed to practise the phonics skills children are learning in school. Bug Club books are for further practise and enjoyment. Special features of eBooks include a phoneme pronunciation guide, model reading, rewards and a quiz question to reinforce phonic skills.

Expectations for the End of Reception

Most children can say a phoneme (unit of sound) for at least 1 spelling of the 40+ sounds of English and find a grapheme (written representation) for most of these phonemes in addition children will learn how to form these letters correctly. Through blending phonemes children will be able to read simple words i.e tip, chop, song, shed, lost, spot, pocket, spoon and storm. Children will be expected to spell simple words by segmenting the spoken word and finally read and write the most common irregular (tricky) words i.e was I to you all.

Expectations for the End of Year 1

Most children can say a phoneme for common graphemes and write the common graphemes for phonemes. Children read words with common correspondences by blending phonemes and also read and spell common words with unusual correspondences i.e you they one could and people. It is expected that children can choose correct grapheme alternatives for spelling some words i.e play snail cake. Finally they need to identify and read non-words for assessment i.e rin as in ‘bin’ dest as in ‘rest’ and pafe as in ‘safe’.

Children in year 1 will undertake a phonics screening test. The phonics screening check is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonics knowledge. It helps our school confirm whether your child has made the expected progress.

Children can access Bug club and Phonics Bug books using the internet at home. For an optimum experience using Bug Club they recommend using Internet Explorer 9+, Chrome or Firefox as your browser. Access to your childs Bug Club account can be found at


School ID: vybf

Ask your class teacher for your child’s username and password (these are case sensitive).

Phonics Screening Check

The National Phonics Screening Check is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonics knowledge. It helps school confirm whether your child has made the expected progress and helps teachers identify which children need extra help with phonic decoding.  It is for Year 1 children and it takes place in the Summer term. The check contains a mix of real words and ‘non-words’ (or ‘alien words’). The purpose of including alien words is to check that the child knows the sounds and can blend them together to read the words. They will be new to all pupils, so there won’t be a bias to those with a good vocabulary knowledge or visual memory of words. Children who have not met the standard in Year 1 will retake the check in Year 2. 

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