At Bow Primary School, children currently learn phonics using a carefully modelled scheme based upon Letters and Sounds that marries up with our reading programme.  

We have designed a programme that has comprehensive coverage of all of the 44 phonemes (sound) and every grapheme (the way we write it) correspondence for these sounds.

Our teaching of phonics is tightly intertwined with our books. 

Children learn sounds carefully in class through listening, speaking, reading and writing with them and then, only once input of teaching has been given to them do they then take upon the challenge of books that apply this phonic knowledge.

What is Phonics?

Phonics is a method for teaching reading and writing.

It develops phonemic awareness – the ability to hear, recognise and use the sounds within words.

Learners are also taught the correspondence between sounds and the graphemes (spelling patterns) that represent them.

Phonics is currently the main way in which children in British primary schools are taught to read in their earliest years.

Children will also be taught other skills, such as whole-word recognition (see ‘tricky words’), book skills and a love and enjoyment of reading.

Why phonics?

Phonics, taught in a structured way, is generally accepted to be the most effective way to teach reading and writing.

Children learn to hear and recognise sounds in words and spell them correctly that they take on with them through the rest of their education.

This assists with their confidence, accuracy and fluency.

Phonics is not be taught in isolation - children also need to learn other reading and comprehension skills alongside phonic knowledge.

Phonics is the first step on a long reading journey for pupils.  It is a vital first step of many that are outlined in our school's approach to reading.  Please see our guide below.
Phonics Workshop March 2022
Thank you to all that made it to the phonics workshop on the 4th March '22.  If you were not able to make it, you can find the power point, resource sheet and a video recording of the workshop here:

Pronunciation is very important!

Be careful not to pronounce ‘uh’ on the end – use a soft voice!

This video on YouTube should help.

At the end of year 1, the children will take part in the Year 1 Phonics Screening which is set by the government.

This is:

A screening check for year one to encourage schools to pursue a rigourous phonics programme.

Aimed at identifying the children who need extra help are given the support.

Assesses decoding skills using phonics

40 items to be read (20 real words, 20 words that are not real, called alien words).

If children do not pass in Year 1 they have to retake the test at the end of Year 2

How can I help at home

Try to find time to read with your child every day.

Talk about the book, the character, what is happening in the story, predict what may happen next.  Encourage a love of reading – not a chore!

Ask your child to find items around the house that represent particular sounds, i.e. ‘oo’ - ‘spoon’ ‘bedroom'

Play matching pairs – with key words or individual sounds/pictures.

Flashcard letters and words – how quickly can they read them?

Notice words/letters in the environment.

Go on a listening walk around the house/when out and about.

Lots of activities online for children to practice their phonic knowledge.

Here are some useful websites and sound mats.

Technical vocabulary

We use a lot of words that you may not be familiar with from your time in education so here is a handy guide to help:

phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in a word.  A phoneme may be represented by 1, 2, or 3 letters.   Eg.        t          ai           igh    

syllable is a word or part of a word that contains one vowel sound. E.g. hap/pen   bas/ket   let/ter

grapheme is the letter(s) representing a phoneme.  Written representation of a sound which may consist of 1 or more letters eg. The phoneme ‘s’ can be represented by the grapheme (sun), se (mouse), (city), sc or ce (science)


digraph is two letters, which make one sound.

A consonant digraph contains two consonants

                        sh        th        ck         ll

A vowel digraph contains at least one vowel

                        ai         ee        ar         oy

split digraph is a digraph in which the two letters are not adjacent (e.g. make)

trigraph is three letters, which make one sound. E.g.     igh                   

Oral Blending – hearing a series of spoken sounds and merging them together to make a spoken word (no text is used) for example, when a teacher calls out b-u-s, the children say bus.

Blending – recognising the letter sounds in a written word, for example c-u-p, and merging in the order in which they are written to pronounce the word cup.

Segmenting – identifying the individual sounds in a spoken word (e.g. h-i-m) and writing down letters for each sound to form the word him.

Phonics is taught by progressing through the phases that are outlined in the documents on this page.