Phonics at St Anne's

Phonics at St Anne’s Catholic Primary

Phonics is an approach to helping children learn the link between the sounds that they use to talk, listen, read and write.  It is part of our English curriculum and runs alongside other teaching methods to help children develop as confident talkers, readers and writers.

What exactly is phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully through….

  • Recognising the sounds that each individual letter makes.
  • Identifying the sounds that different combinations of letters make - /sh/ /oo/
  • Blending these sounds together from left to right to make a word.

In phonics lessons children are taught three main things:

1.  GPCs

They are taught GPCs. This stands for grapheme phoneme correspondences. This simply means that they are taught all the phonemes in the English language and ways of writing these down. These sounds are taught in a particular order. The first sounds to be taught are s, a, t, p.

2.  Blending

Children are taught to be able to blend. This is when children say the sounds that make up a word and are able to merge the sounds together until they can hear what the word is. This skill is vital in learning to read.

3.  Segmenting

Children are also taught to segment. This is the opposite of blending. Children are able to say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up. This skill is vital in being able to spell words.

What makes phonics tricky?

In some languages learning phonics is easy because each phoneme has just one grapheme to represent it. The English language is a bit more complicated than this. English only has around 44 phonemes but there are around 120 graphemes or ways of writing down those 44 phonemes. Obviously we only have 26 letters in the alphabet so some graphemes are made up from more than one letter.

ch th oo ay (these are all digraphs - graphemes with two letters)

There are other graphemes that are trigraphs (made up of 3 letters) and even a few made from 4 letters.

Another slightly sticky problem is that some graphemes can represent more than one phoneme. For example ch makes very different sounds in these three words: chip, school, chef.

So why teach phonics?

In the past people argued that because the English language is so tricky, there was no point teaching children phonics. Now, most people agree that these tricky bits mean that it is even more important that we teach phonics and children learn it clearly and systematically. A written language is basically a kind of a code. Teaching phonics is just teaching children to crack that code. Children learn the simple bits first and then easily progress to get the hang of the trickier bits.

How is phonics taught at St Anne’s?

Phonics sessions are made up of games, songs and actions and the sessions only last for 15-20 minutes per day.

At St Anne’s we teach the letters and sounds phases.  There are 5 phases of development that are taught from Foundation 2 to Year 2 before children progress to the school's spelling scheme.  

For children in Foundation 2 and Key Stage 1 we set for phonics which allows us to know exactly where your children are working and teach to their needs.

Below are some resources to help you as parents.  They include:

1.  A presentation used at our Phonics workshops for parents. 

2.  A link to the Letters and Sounds DfE document that we follow at St Anne's.

3.  National Curriculum expectations for your children.