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St Mary's Roman Catholic Primary School

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Phonics and Spelling

What is phonics?

Phonics is a method for teaching reading and writing to children in primary schools. Children link sounds (phonemes) and their written form (graphemes) in order to recognise and read words, using basic units of knowledge to “decode” new or unfamiliar words.

We use the Read, Write, Inc. phonics programme at St Mary's.

Why is phonics the favoured teaching method?

According to the Department for Education's guidance for parents, "Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7."

How is phonics taught?

Words are made up of just 44 sounds in English. You may have heard your child or their teacher use particular words that form the core of understanding phonics. Here's a quick explanation of some of the key concepts.

What are common exception words?

Common exception words are words in which the English Spelling code works in an unusual or uncommon way. They are not words for which phonics 'doesn't work', but they may be exceptions to spelling rules, or words which use a particular combination of letters to represent sound patterns in a rare or unique way.

Year 1 - Common Exception Words

Phonics Screening - Summer Term

In summer term of Year 1 children will complete the Year 1 Phonics Screen. We will be preparing for this throughout the year, as children learn their sounds and how to read. Please look below to learn more about the phonics screen and the many ways you can help your child at home. The phonics screen consists of a mix of 40 real and pseudo words (alien words) that children need to read correctly.

Tips to help practise phonics sounds

  • Look at the word carefully
  • Decode the word using your phonics knowledge (break the word apart in separate sounds)
    t-r-ee h-igh b-oy sh-ou-t
  • Blend the sounds together to say the whole word without any pauses
    c-a-t blended is cat sh-i-p blended is ship
  • Pronounce sounds and words clearly
  • Use a confident and loud speaker voice
  • Take your time
  • Try your best!

Phonics Parent Workshop

Home Reading and Phonics Parent Meeting

Fred Games for Parents

Phonics Screening Check Test 1

Phonics Screening Check Test 2

Phonics Screening Check Test 3

Phonics Screening Check Test 4


Alien Words | Phonics Screening Check Practise

Year 1 phonics screening check training video

Phonics resources

  • Jolly Phonics Letter Sounds (British English)




 Speed Sounds

  • Speed Sounds 1

Speed Sounds 1

  • Speed Sounds 2

Speed Sounds 2

  • Speed Sounds Set 2

  • Complex Speed Sounds 


Speed Sounds Set 2 and 3 for Reception and Foundation Stage


Speed Sounds Sets 1, 2 and 3 for Foundation Stage and Year 1