The Sherwood


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Phonics and Early Reading at The Sherwood

At The Sherwood we feel it important to encourage a love of reading from the very start and throughout children’s time at school. Children read with a teacher at least once a week, either in a Guided Reading session or individually. Throughout the school we use a range of exciting lessons to teach and nurture a love of reading and books. 

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What is Phonics?

Phonics is the systematic teaching of the sounds, or ‘phonemes’ that accompany the written letters ‘graphemes’. It is designed to teach children to become confident and fluent readers in English.

All children in Reception and Year 1 have a daily 20-minute phonics session where they are introduced to new sounds and practise the sounds they are familiar with. In nursery children begin by exploring sounds in the environment and when the children are ready they are taught phonics in small groups in discrete sessions. 

At The Sherwood we follow “Letters and Sounds”, published by the Department for Education, to teach phonics. In the Early Years we also use ‘Jolly Phonics’ which teaches actions to accompany the sounds and acts as a memory aid.


Phonics Terms

  • Phonemes: The smallest units of sound that are found within a word
  • Grapheme: The spelling of the sound e.g. ng
  • Digraph: Two letters that make one sound (sh, oo, th)
  • Trigraphs: Three letters that make one sound (igh)
  • CVC: Stands for consonant, vowel, consonant (pig, top, sat)
  • Segmenting is breaking up a word into its sounds
  • Blending: Putting the sounds together to read a word
  • Tricky words: Words that cannot easily be decoded (the)

Progression in Phonics


Phonic Knowledge and skills

Phase One
(Nursery and Reception)

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.

Phase Two (Reception) up to 6 weeks & (Throughout year 1)

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple cations.

Phase Three (Reception) up to 12 weeks

& (Throughout year 1)

The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.

Phase Four (Reception) 4 to 6 weeks

& (Throughout year 1)

No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.

Phase Five (Throughout Year 1)

Now we move onto the "complex code". Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.

Phase Six (Throughout Year 2 and beyond)

Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.


Examples of Phonics Resources in the Early Years

Examples of Phonics Resources in the Early Years 1
Examples of Phonics Resources in the Early Years 2
Examples of Phonics Resources in the Early Years 3
Examples of Phonics Resources in the Early Years 4
Examples of Phonics Resources in the Early Years 5

Year 1 Phonics Screening Check

At the end of Year 1, children will undertake the statutory Phonics Screening Check. This is a short assessment to make sure that children have learnt phonics to the required standard.


There are 40 words in the screening check which the children are asked to read on a one-to-one basis with their teacher. The check is made up of real words for example (‘dig’) and fake/alien words for example (‘splog’).  Children need to apply their phonic knowledge to read the words.

Preparation for the check takes place during daily phonics carpet times and guided reading. But, you can also help your child at home by reading and practising phonics. Please see the websites below to practise phonics at home with your child.