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. (The National Literacy Trust) 

Phonics primarily teaches the children to: 

  • recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes; 
  • identify the sounds (phonemes) that different combinations of letters make’ or ‘oo 
  • blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word. 

Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read. 

A high quality phonics programme is the prime approach to decoding print. This enables children to start learning phonic knowledge and skills systematically by the age of five with the expectation that they will have secured word recognition skills and be fluent readers by the end of Key Stage 1. 

At Manor Green we use First Class in Phonics, a published scheme which carefully matches the principles in the DFE Letters and Sounds and the requirements which are now needed to achieve the expected standard in the year 1 phonics screening check (see below).  

At Manor Green the children are taught in a whole class approach so that all children have the opportunity to make accelerated progress. Discrete phonics sessions are 20 minutes, consisting of a four part lesson: revisit, teach, practise, apply.  


Click here to find out more about ‘Letters and Sounds’. 

Below is a useful video for parents in order to help them to pronounce sounds correctly when helping their child at home; 

Sounds of the English Phonic Code 

What is the phonics screening check? 

The phonics screening check is national test to assess the children’s knowledge of sounds (phonemes) and their skills at segmenting and blending. It helps us to confirm whether your child has made the expected progress by the end of year 1. It takes place at the beginning of June. 

 How does the check work? 

  • Your child will sit with a teacher he or she knows and be asked to read 40 words aloud. 
  • Your child may have read some of the words before, while others will be completely new. 
  • The check normally takes just a few minutes to complete and there is no time limit. 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 will contain a mix of real words and pseudo words (nonsense words). Your child will be aware that pseudo words are indicated on the test by an cartoon alien. Pseudo words are introduced to the children in year 1 so that they are familiar with these unusual sounding words. 
  • Pseudo words are important to include because words such as ‘vap’ or ‘jound’ are new to all children. Children cannot read these words by using their memory or vocabulary; they have to use their decoding skills. This is a fair way to assess their ability to decode. 
  • There is no writing in the test. 

      Click here to see past phonics check papers 

After the check 

  • The raw scores are submitted to national data base. If your child scores above the national threshold they will have met the expected standard. We will notify you of this in your child’s end of year report.  
  • If your child has found the check difficult and did not meet the threshold, we will tell you what support we have put in place to help him or her improve. You might like to ask how you can support your child to take the next step in reading.  
  • Children who have not met the standard in year 1 will retake the check in year 2. 
  • All children are individuals and develop at different rates. The screening check ensures that teachers understand which children need extra help with phonic decoding.