Swanton Abbott Community Primary School



Children learn phonics right from the start of their time with us so that there is no delay in building up the skills and knowledge they will require for reading and writing.  We follow the DFE 'Letters and Sounds' approach.  Phonics is taught systematically every day in the Early Years and Key Stage 1 classes. We make learning fun by adding actions and develop phonics work into sentence building activities too.  Phonics is taught as a whole-class activity, in small groups and, in particular cases, individually.  


In Key Stage 2, the approach is carried on in spelling sessions and also intervention programmes for children who have still not met the expected standard. High-quality phonics teaching helps children develop their reading, writing, spelling and general communication skills. It helps secures the crucial skills of word recognition that enables children to read fluently, allowing them to concentrate on the meaning of the text. Our aim is for children to become confident and independent readers who gain both pleasure and insight from reading.


Phonics Schemes

  • At Swanton Abbott we base our phonics teaching on the Letters  and Sounds approach as outlined in “Letters and Sounds”: Principles and Practice of High Quality Phonics, found in the Primary National Strategy 2007.
  • Daily phonics sessions are led by a trained, competent person in a whole class setting.

 Letters and Sounds Overview

‘Letters & Sounds’ is the government programme for teaching phonics and high frequency words.  It is split into 6 phases with the different phases being covered in different years in Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1.

  • Phase 1 – Nursery / Reception
  • Phase 2 – Reception
  • Phase 3 – Reception
  • Phase 4 – Reception / Year 1
  • Phase 5 – Year 1
  • Phase 6 – Year 1/ Year 2

Children who have not made sufficient progress and who are not confident with KS 1 phonics will follow a daily intervention program in Year 3.


Monitoring, Assessment and Tracking

  • Results from half termly assessments should be passed to the phonics lead for analysis are used to track progress and to implement intervention if needed.
  • Year 1 pupils (and those in Year 2/3 who have yet to meet the expected standards) use a previous year’s screening test Results are analysed to review progress.
  • The Tracking documents are completed half termly.
  • The test analysis and tracking sheets provide our evidence base for external moderation, if required.
  • The phonics lead will provide opportunities to be observed as lead practitioner and may observe other colleagues as needs are identified.
  • Phonics training has been provided by our link with the Wensum Trust. Staff new to phonics will be given support by the phonics lead and may be signposted to further relevant training, if appropriate.


Key Stage 1 Phonics Screening


Phonics Screening Checks

The Year 1 phonics screening check is not a formal test, but a way for teachers to ensure that children are making sufficient progress with their phonics skills to read words and that they are on track to become fluent readers who can enjoy reading for pleasure and for learning.

What is the Year 1 phonics screening check?

The phonics screening check is taken individually by all children in Year 1 in England. It is designed to give teachers and parents information on how your child is progressing in phonics. It will help to identify whether your child needs additional support at this stage so that they do not fall behind in this vital early reading skill.

What is in the phonics screening check?

There are two sections in this 40-word check and it assesses phonics skills and knowledge learned through Reception and Year 1. Your child will read up to four words per page for their teacher and they will probably do the check in one sitting of about 5-10 minutes.

What sort of check is it and is it compulsory?

It is a school-based check to make sure that your child receives any additional support promptly, should they need it. It is not a stressful situation as the teacher will be well-equipped to listen and understand your child’s level of skills.

There will be a few practice words first to make sure your child understands the activity.

What does it check?

It checks that your child can:

  • Sound out and blend graphemes in order to read simple words.
  • Read phonically decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words, e.g. cat, sand, windmill.
  • Read a selection of nonsense words which are referred to as pseudo words.


What are nonsense or pseudo words and why are they included?

These are words that are phonically decodable but are not actual words with an associated meaning e.g. brip, snorb. Pseudo words are included in the check specifically to assess whether your child can decode a word using phonics skills and not their memory.

The pseudo words will be shown to your child with a picture of a monster and they will be asked to tell their teacher what sort of monster it is by reading the word. This not only makes the check a bit more fun, but provides the children with a context for the nonsense word which is independent from any existing vocabulary they may have. Crucially, it does not provide any clues, so your child just has to be able to decode it. Children generally find nonsense amusing so they will probably enjoy reading these words.

Is there a pass mark?

The check is not about passing or failing but checking appropriate progress is being made. If children do not reach the required standard, then the teacher will be in touch to discuss plans and offer additional, tailored support to ensure that your child can catch up. Children progress at different speeds so not reaching the threshold score does not necessarily mean there is a serious problem. Your child will re-sit the check the following summer term.

What happens to the results?

The school will report your child’s results to you by the end of the summer term as well as to the local authority, but the results won’t be published in a league table as with SATs. If you have any concerns, do talk to your teacher about this in a parents’ meeting or after school.

Do all schools and children have to participate?

All schools and academies in England must take part in the phonics screening check unless they are an independent school. There is a process in place for reviewing children with special educational needs, so if your child’s teacher thinks there are very special reasons related to your child and their needs that make them think the phonics screening check may not be appropriate, they will decide on appropriate action and discuss this with you.

What should I do if my child is struggling to decode a word?

  • Say each sound in the word from left to right.
  • Blend the sounds by pointing to each letter, i.e. /b/ in bat, or letter group, i.e. /igh/ in sigh, as you say the sound, then run your finger under the whole word as you say it.
  • Talk about the meaning if your child does not understand the word they have read.
  • Work at your child’s pace.
  • Always be positive and give lots of praise and encouragement.


Example of Phonics Screening 2018

A recent example of Phonics Screening can be found here: