What is phonics?

Phonics is the knowledge of phonemes and graphemes and how these are used to read and spell words.

Phonemes are the sounds that are made by a single letter or group of letters.

A grapheme is the written equivalent of a phoneme.


To ensure the delivery of high quality, systematic phonic work for all children.

To establish the consistent practice, progression and continuity in the teaching and learning of phonics and spelling throughout the school.

To give all children word work strategies that will enable them to become fluent readers and confident writers.

To differentiate phonics and spelling work to enable all children to progress and achieve at appropriate levels.

Teaching and Learning

At Stathern Primary, we currently teach phonics using the programme Twinkl Phonics SSP, this programme suggests a fast paced, clearly progressive approach to teaching phonics, which is divided, into six phases. Children progress through the phases at different speeds and to enable us to meet the needs of all children; we group the children according to the phase they are working at.

Phonics is taught for a twenty-minute session on a daily basis in the Early Years/ Key Stage 1 classes. Sessions include a range of activities that allow the children to revise their knowledge, learn new sounds and apply and practice their skills. Daily intervention for children who need support also happens throughout the day. Phonics activities will be used in other areas such as handwriting practice and speaking and listening.

In Key Stage 2, where appropriate, phonics and spellings are taught daily and intervention programmes for children who are not making sufficient progress.

High-quality phonics teaching helps children develop their reading, writing, spelling and general communication skills. It helps secure the crucial skills of word recognition that enable children to read fluently, allowing them to concentrate on the meaning of the text. Activities are designed to teach word decoding and recognition skills as well as comprehension skills.

What is the phonics screening check?

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

The national phonics screening check was introduced in 2012 to all Year 1 pupils in the country. It is a short, statutory assessment to ensure that children are making sufficient progress in the phonics skills to read words and are on track to become fluent readers who can enjoy reading for pleasure and for learning.

When will the phonics screening take place?

In 2023, the screening takes place in June. 

How does the check work?

Your child will sit with the class teacher and will be asked to read 40 words aloud. The test normally takes a few minutes. If your child is struggling the teacher will stop the check.  The check is carefully designed not to be stressful for your child.

The check consists of a list of 40 words, half real words and half nonsense words, the nonsense words will be shown to your child with a picture of an alien. This not only makes the check a bit more fun, but provides the children with a context for the nonsense word which is independent from any existing vocabulary they may have.

Why Pseudo Words/non- words / nonsense words / alien words?

Non-words are important to include as they can’t be read using their vocabulary or from memory; they have to use their decoding skills. This is a fair way to assess all children’s ability to decode.

After the check

We will inform you on your child’s progress towards the end of the Summer term.  If your child found the test tricky we will inform you of what support we have put in place to help them improve and what you can do at home to help them as well. Children who have not met the standard will retake the check when they are in Year 2.

All children are individuals and all develop at different rates. The screening check ensures that teachers understand which children need extra help with phonic decoding.

How can you help your child?

In school we are continually checking your children’s phonic development within our approach to the assessment of reading. This screening forms part of our overall assessment procedure. However, there are a number of things that parents can do to support early reading skill development.

Let your child see you enjoying reading yourself – they are influenced by you and what you value!

Immerse your child in a love of reading: share books and magazines with your child, take them to the library to choose books, read to them regularly, point out texts around you, e.g. in the street etc.

Make time for your child to read school books to you regularly – encourage them by pointing to the words and ask them about the story they are reading.

Use phonics play This is a website which is packed with interactive phonics games to help children to learn to hear sounds and blend sounds. We use this in school and some aspects of it are free to use at home.

If you have any further questions, please talk to your child’s class teacher.