Year 1

Phonics in Year One

When your child moves into Year One, they would have built the foundations they need in phonics and reading to successfully continue their journey this year. 

Your child will have learnt Phases One to Four last year and will continue to apply this knowledge in Year One. Pupils will continue to secure Phase Four phonics knowledge and move onto Phase Five by the end of the year. 

Phase Two and Three 

In Year R pupils will have been taught phase 2 and 3 phonics. This is where pupils first started learning letter sounds and were then introduced to digraphs during phase 3. Pupils May need to recap these sounds which you can do so using these resources to help:

Phase Four 

In Reception, pupils will have covered  Phase Four phonics. Pupils may recap this phase at the beginning of Year One. When learning Phase Four,  children are not taught any new phonemes or graphemes. Instead, they are taught to further manipulate the phonemes and graphemes they have already learnt. Many of the words children explored in Phase Two and Three were monosyllabic (words of one syllable). In Phase Four children explore more polysyllabic words (words containing more than one syllable). Many of the words in Phase Two and Three required children to blend approximately three sounds together in order to read them. Phase Four requires children to blend an increasing number of sounds together in order to read. 

Phase Four is made up of lots of different tricky words that pupils will need to apply in their reading and writing.  These words cannot be segmented and blended like decodable words can. When the teacher moves on to Phase Five, children are introduced to new graphemes for reading. Some of these graphemes represent phonemes (sounds) that they have already learnt a grapheme for. For example, in Phase Three children were taught 'ai' as the grapheme for the phoneme /a/ (as in rain). In Phase Five, children are taught that the phoneme /a/ can also be represented by the graphemes 'ay' (as in play) or 'a-e' (as in make). This variation needs to be taught as it is common in our language system.

Phase Five

Phase Five is new to Year One so this will be new learning for your child. Phase Five consists of alternative sounds which support pupils with spelling and reading. An example of this is in Phase Three when pupils learnt the digraph /ow/ as in cow. In Phase Five, pupils will then learn the /ou/ digraph as in cloud

As in Reception, your child will to use cued articulation, actions and songs to revise their previous sounds and learn and say their new sounds correctly. 

What is the phonics screening? What happens after the phonics screening?

The Year One 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.  It also looks at whether they are on track to become fluent readers who can enjoy reading for pleasure and for learning.

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.

Why are Pseudo words 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.

Here is a video showing you what the phonics screening looks like: 

Woodford Green Primary School Y1 Phonics Test

There are two sections in this 40 word check and it assesses phonics skills and knowledge learned through Reception and Year One. 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.

Here is a copy of the 2018 Phonics Screening Test from the government website: 2018 phonics screening check: pupils' materials