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Barley and Barkway (VA) Church of England First Schools Federation

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What is phonics?


Phonics is an important first step in learning to read. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language. Phonemes are the individual units of sound within a word, whereas graphemes are the letters used to make those sounds. There may be more than one way of making a particular sound, for example the ‘ay’ sound in ‘tray’ and ‘plate’. 


At Barley Barkway Federation, we follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme for systematic synthetic phonics. The children will learn to make connections between the sounds they hear in words and the letters that are used to represent these sounds. Find our full phonics progression and overview here.



How to Support Your Child:



Blending is a crucial skill when reading. In their phonics lessons, our children practise identifying sounds and blending these together to create words. In Nursery, this will be orally through recognising individual sounds and blending these together. As they move into Reception, the children will learn to recognise the sounds made by individual graphemes (letters or series of letters) and blend these together to make words.

Watch this video to see an example of how blending is taught at Barley Barkway Federation:

Learning Sounds

Each week, the children learn new sounds and the graphemes used to represent those sounds. It is really important that the children make these sounds clearly. Here are some videos showing how to pronounce all of the sounds the children will be learning in Reception:

Phase 2 sounds taught in Reception Autumn 1

Phase 2 sounds taught in Reception Autumn 2

Phase 3 sounds taught in Reception Spring 1

There are more details on these pronunciation guides for the sounds learnt in Reception in Autumn 1 and Autumn 2, and more information about the Phase 3 graphemes covered in Spring 1:

Tricky Words: 

There are some words where some of the graphemes may not be making the sounds that the children have learnt so far. These will be words that we use often, so we teach these as tricky words to support children in their reading. Learn more about tricky words in this video clip:


The Phonics Screening Check and Alien Words 

In Year 1, the children will complete the Phonics Screening Check to see how well they know the phonic sounds and graphemes that they have learnt in Reception and Year 1. This check looks at 40 words, both real words and pseudo or alien words, applying their phonic knowledge to read these aloud. There is more information about alien words in this video clip:


Parents and carers guide to pronouncing phonemes


If you would like to know more about the phonics that your child will be learning, here are links to some YouTube lessons funded by the Department for Education to support phonics learning.