Cotmanhay Infant and Nursery School

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Phonics at Cotmanhay Infant and Nursery School 


This page will tell you everything you need to know about the teaching and assessment of phonics in our school.


If  you have any questions or want anymore information on how to help your child at home, please speak to your child's class teacher or our English lead, Miss Stallard, who would be more than happy to advise you further. 


What is Phonics?

  • Phonics is breaking down the letters that make up words into the sounds that they make, therefore helping many children learn to read and spell. 
  • Words are made up from small units of sound called phonemes.
  • Phonics teaches children to be able to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. This helps children to learn to read words and to spell words. 
  • The phonemes (sounds) are systematically taught and then children are shown how to blend them for reading and segmenting them for writing.
  • There are 44 phonemes in English which the children must learn. 
  • When a sound is written, it is known as a grapheme.
  • Alongside this, the children are taught the ’high frequency words’ and ‘tricky words’ (those words which do not entirely follow the phonic rules).


Why do we teach phonics?


Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read.  Phonics runs alongside other teaching methods to help children develop vital reading skills and give them a real love of reading, hopefully for life. As reading is the key to learning, it is important that we teach phonics clearly and systematically, learning the initial sounds first before progressing to exploring all of the different ways that sounds can be made in the English language!


How we teach Phonics?


Phonics teaching begins in our two year nursery cubs provision and is taught all the way up to year 2.


Currently our phonics teaching is based on Letters and Sounds and Superphonics.




In our school children begin learning phonics in our Cubs 2 year old nursery developing their listening ability to discriminate sounds around them and listening for rhymes and rhythm. When children reach our Bears 3 year old nursery they continue to develop their phonic skills and are taught a discrete phonics lesson daily. Children are given a reading book to share at home and begin to recognise some of the phonemes in their books.


Once children are in Reception all children have a discrete daily phonics lesson for 30 minutes. Pupils works at their own level and are grouped according to the Letters and Sounds phase they are working in, this will range from phase 2 to phase 6. The pace of all phonics lessons is quick with lots of short sharp get up and go activities. High expectations are set for every pupil to progress. 


The groupings are constantly adapting and children can move to different groups to enable them to progress. If any child falls behind our rigorous assessment allows for targeted support to take place immediately. Our reading scheme links directly to our teaching of phonics and allows children to continue to practise their phonics.


Overview of phonic phases


Phase One

Supports the importance of speaking and listening and develops children’s discrimination of sounds, including letter sounds.


Phase Two

The children learn to pronounce the sounds themselves in response to letters, before blending them. This leads to them being able to read simple words and captions.

Phonemes: s, a, t, p, i, n, m, d, g, o, c, k, ck, e, u, r, h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss

Tricky Words: the, to, I, no, go


Phase Three

Completes the teaching of the alphabet and moves on to sounds represented by more than one letter. The children will learn letter names and how to read and spell some tricky words.

Phonemes: j, v, w, x, y, z, zz, qu, ch, sh, th, ng, ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er

Tricky Words: he, she, we, me, be, was, my, you, they, her, all, are


Phase Four

The children learn to read and spell words containing adjacent consonants.

Tricky Words: said, so, have, like, some, come, were, there, little, one, do, when, out, what


Phase Five

The children broaden their knowledge of sounds for use in reading and spelling. They will begin to build word-specific knowledge of the spellings of words.

Phonemes: ay, ou, ie, ea, oy, ir, ue, aw, wh, ph, ew, oe, au, ey, a_e, i_e, u_e, o_e

Tricky Words: oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked


Phase Six

This focuses more sharply on word-specific spellings. It encourages children to become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers.



Phonics screening check 


Children in Year 1 throughout the country will all be taking part in a phonics screening check during the same week in June. Children in Year 2 will also take the check if they did not achieve the required result when in Year 1 or they have not taken the test before. The phonics screening check is designed to confirm whether individual children have learnt phonic decoding and blending skills to an appropriate standard.


What Happens During the Screening?


The test contains 40 words. Each child will sit one-to-one and read each word aloud to a teacher. The test will take approximately 10 minutes per child, although all children are different and will complete the check at their own pace. The list of words the children read is a combination of 20 real words and 20 pseudo words (nonsense words). The pass mark for the last 8 years has been 32/40.



Our results:


All pupils     


Year 2 retakes


















no data due to Covid 19


Phonics at Home


There are many great websites and apps to support phonics learning at home. Here are some of our favourites which the children may already be familiar with from school; (Buried treasure, Dragons Den, Picnic on Pluto) (The Dinosaur’s Eggs, Poop Deck Pirates, Forest Phonics, Sound Buttons) (This will help Parents with correct pronunciation of sounds) all children have their own login for this in their reading record.


Phonics Vocabulary Help


Phoneme – The smallest unit of sound. Phonemes can be put together to make words.


Grapheme – A way of writing down a phoneme. Graphemes can be made up from 1 letter e.g. p, 2 letters e.g. ch, 3 letters e.g. igh or 4 letters e.g. tion.


GPC – Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence. The skill of being able to match the written representation to the sound that they hear.


Digraph – A grapheme containing two letters that make just one sound – th, sh, ch, ay, ee, ie, ou, ow


Split digraph – A vowel grapheme containing two letters but which allow a letter to stand between them. This does not stop the two letters still making their sound – a-e make, i-e bike, o-e bone, u-e tune


Trigraph – A grapheme containing three letters that make just one sound – igh, ear, ure, air, tch, are, ore


Blending – This involves looking at the written word, looking at each grapheme using their knowledge of GPCs in order to match to the phoneme and merge together to read the word.


Segmenting – This involves hearing a word and splitting it in to individual phonemes by sounding it out. Again using knowledge of GPCs will allow children to make written representations of each sound allowing them to spell the word.


Information for Parents: How to say the phonemes

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Please have a look at how we say the phonemes in our school

Phase 5: How we say the phonemes in our school

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Here are some games you might like to play together at home to help with phonics reading.


phonics bloom aliens game  


Obb or Bob alien game


Buried Treasure