What is Phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write by learning to associate letters or groups of letters with the sounds they represent. There are 44 main sounds in the English language. Each sound is represented by a grapheme (the written representation of a sound). Phonics involves matching the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters. For example, the sound k can be spelled as c, k, ck or ch. Teaching children to blend the sounds of letters together helps them decode unfamiliar or unknown words by sounding them out. For example, when a child is taught the sounds for the letters tpa and s, they can start to read the words: “tap”, “taps”, “pat”, “pats” and “sat”. This skill can then be inverted so that words can be broken down (segmented) into their component sounds in order to spell them.

At Slip End, we use “Success for All Phonics” as our systematic synthetic phonic programme. Synthetic phonics is a method of teaching where words are broken up into the smallest units of sound (phonemes).

Children are taught how to:

  • recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
  • identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make – such as /sh/ or /oo/;
  • to blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.
  • to segment words into individual sounds

Key terms we use in our teaching:

Phoneme – a single unit of sound
Grapheme – a written letter, or group of letters that represents a sound
Consonants – b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z

Vowels – a, e, i, o, u
Blend – to put or merge the sounds together to make a word (e.g. the sounds c-a-t are blended to the word ‘cat’.)
Segment – to break down the word into individual sounds to spell (e.g. dog can be split into the sounds d-o-g.).


Success For All Phonics - FFT

At Slip End School we use FFT "Success for All" Phonics to teach phonics across EYFS, KS1 and beyond where needed. Success for All Phonics is a systematic, synthetic phonics programme backed by 20 years’ evidence-based research and practice. It meets all the requirements of the National Curriculum and the EYFS framework and has been validated by the DfE.

Slip End School aims to ensure that all children become successful, confident readers by the end of Key Stage one and believe this is achievable through a combination of strong, high quality, discrete phonics teaching combined with a whole language approach that promotes a ‘Love of reading’ culture. This curriculum is aimed at reinforcing a consistent, high quality approach to the teaching and learning of phonics across the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), Key Stage One and on into Key Stage Two for children who still need this further support. 

"FFT Success for All Phonics is a complete systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) programme that has been validated by the Department for Education.

Aimed at nursery children upwards and pioneered by the Success for All Foundation, FFT’s second generation programme is offered on a not-for-profit basis and is a highly comprehensive offering.

Our ambition is to enable success for all children and inspire a lifelong love of reading." (FFT - 2022)

We have ambitious aims for all children to pass the phonics screening check at the end of year one. We believe that encouraging children to reach this potential, they can then access the curriculum materials as they progress through the school. We believe that decoding is a lifelong skill that unlocks the curriculum, broadens pupils’ experiences and opens new worlds of knowledge and opportunity. We want our pupils to highly value reading for pleasure, and we teach the decoding, through segmenting and blending which are the skills required to achieve this. The teaching of reading in our school is a high priority where lessons are interactive, engaging and carefully planned to meet the needs of all children. We aim to build our pupils’ cultural capital through the wide range of texts, provided by FFT success for all phonics and we aim to inspire and challenge the children through all reading experiences. At the heart of our strategy is our desire to foster a classroom environment and school ethos which reflects a love of reading.

At our schools, Phonics looks like this:

The phonics scheme we use was a deliberate decision because it follow a systematic approach, has a success for all ethos and is accepted by the DFE. It has a research focus as do we at school and has developed over time adapting other schemes. The structure of lessons is consistent and follows a system of; reviewing, teaching, practising and applying. Nursery children spend 10 minutes daily, which is covered in one lesson. Reception spends 20 -25 minutes with phonic focus and 25 minutes shared reader daily. These are covered adjacent to each other as one lesson, however this is broken into small groups whilst other children access the inside provision at low volume. Year One spend 25 minutes with phonic focus and 30 minutes shared reader daily. These are covered in two lessons, one first thing and one later straight after lunch. Children in year 2 and 3 then move on to complete the FFT Routes to Reading programme and personalised support is provided for children who need additional phonics support. 

In Early Years, reading is taught through the DfE approved FFT ‘Success for All’ Phonics scheme, selected due to its multi-sensory, systematic approach, focusing on application of skills and co-operative learning. It provides highly comprehensive documentation that shows clear structure and progression, and it is a government validated scheme of work, offering a plethora of resources to support the teaching. The scheme allows for correct vocabulary to be introduced and used with the children, it groups phonemes and new graphemes together in its teaching, so that the children are aware of the visual representation for each sound. The children are taught both the names and sounds of letters, and this is supported in the application of the ‘alphabet chant’. Additionally, the daily format of lessons ensures that the reviewing, practising, teaching and applying parts of the lesson receive appropriate coverage. Children enjoy the engaging stories that are used during partner practice sessions, supporting the application of reading along with the spelling and writing of the words in the book, so it has a cohesive approach. The specific teaching strategies that are used support the application of skills and repetition to ensure children are clear on structure and make progress. These are; hear phonemes, read phonemes, stretch and read, quick erase, say it fast, break it down, write graphemes, stretch, count, spell, choral reading and echo reading. Our children are provided with a variety of opportunities to develop and extend their phonics skills in and across Nursery, Reception and Key Stage 1. It will also be continued into Key Stage 2, where necessary to provide rapid intervention and support to those children who do not yet have the phonic knowledge and skills they need. These lessons proceed at pace and incorporate a wide range of practical and interactive learning opportunities to engage the children. To consolidate the children's phonic knowledge each child is sent home with a reading book that matches their progression and phonic ability. These books are the FFT shared readers they see in class; this allows them to use the knowledge learnt to apply these skills to develop the love for reading at home. These books are also sent home electronically and another book at a lower level is also offered to ensure the phonics ability can be matched. They also have the opportunity to take a ‘read to me’ book home that ensures that they are exposed to a variety of reading books offering tier three vocabulary.

In Phonics, regular assessment takes place through the use of daily teaching where adults support areas of development during live marking and children develop their own self assessment through the use of purple pens and adult modelling. RAP assessments are used half termly to allow staff to track children’s outcomes of phonics, these cover all parts of phonics that are taught and follows a learn, do review cycle. The data used from these assessments then are created in the form of heat maps for each class. These are then used by staff to then make an impact on children’s learning by offering regular interventions that close gaps in learning. Children who have not met the phonics pass mark continue to be assessed using FFT phonics screening to allow teaching staff to develop personalised plans to support their learning and progression.

Phonics teaching

The FFT Phonics programme is designed for daily use from the beginning of EYFS, enabling children to make a smooth transition from Reception to Key Stage 1. Children have a daily 25-minute phonics session and a daily 25-minute shared reader session. Each phonics session consists of reviewing previously learnt sounds (GPCs) and then teaching, practising and applying a new sound(s). The programme addresses both encoding and decoding skills. Decoding is the reading aspect of literacy and encoding is the spelling aspect. Both processes work together.

Shared reader

It is important that children do not simply know their phonics, but they can apply this skill to reading.  Therefore, as part of our FFT "Success for All" we have a daily reading session, based on the phonic skills the children have been taught.  Using fully decodable texts children are given further opportunities to use these skills and teachers model how to use this knowledge to support their reading. This application is also seen within English lessons and the wider curriculum.

At the end of year one children take a screening check, which assesses their phonics knowledge. This check is completed by class teachers during the month of June and parents will be informed of the outcome by the end of the summer term. The check assesses the child's ability to decode and read words using their phonic skills, it consists of real words and some made up words. You can read more about it following this link Phonics screening check: information for parents - GOV.UK (

In our early phonics sessions, we practise the letters of the alphabet, their order and the sounds they make. The images on our alphabet strip help us to remember the formation and also the sounds each written letter makes.

We teach the children their sounds by using Phonics Phrases to help them remember the sound each letter makes and letter formation cues to help them remember how to form each letter when writing it. For example, for the GPC /s/ we say ‘The snake slides and slithers’ to help us remember the sound of the letter and we say ‘Left around, right around, from head to tail’ when writing the letter.

There is a dedicated online Parent Portal ( which provides access to a growing range of materials to support phonics and reading at home. This includes all the alliterative phrases and writing cues that are mentioned above, videos containing the proper pronunciation of all the Grapheme-Phoneme Correspondences (GPCs) taught in the programme and it gives access to a digital library of our Shared Readers, along with read-aloud videos of each book to support home reading. There are also lots of tips for home reading. To access all these resources please login using the passcode for our school.

Your child will bring home a decodable reading book every day in their book bag, alongside a reading record.  Children should be reading to an adult at home daily. When reading please focus first on the inside front cover and read the red and green words with your child before moving on to read their book. The red words are not decodable for your child, they will have been taught these words within their phonics lessons. The questions within the book are also fully decodable so encourage your child to read and answer these. You can of course ask your own questions too! Please record every time you read with your child in their reading record. 

If children are to become lifelong readers, it is essential that they are encouraged to read for pleasure. The desire of wanting to read will help with the skill of reading. To help foster a love of reading, children will take a 'read to me' book home each week that they can share and enjoy with you. You should not expect your child to read this book independently and certainly should not try to get your child to do so. This book is for you to read to or with your child and enjoy together and expose them to rich vocabulary . Please also share and read together other books of yours or their choice. Reading a range of material across a week, fiction and non-fiction, will expose your child to a range of vocabulary. It will provide them with a deep understanding about their world and fill their brain with background knowledge and stimulate their imagination. It is crucial to your child's development and understanding of language and how words work together. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word.

Writing phrases

Helpful videos

Tips for home reading

Parent carer guide

Phonic support games

The scope and sequence shows an overview of the programme and which sounds are learnt at each stage. The colours represent the shared reader books that link to each taught sound. You can see from the scope and sequence document that the sounds are taught in a clear systematic approach. 

Scope and sequence

The scope and sequence is then broken down in to terms and weeks, so that the systematic approach is cohesive and links to all the shared reader books for children to apply their new learnt skills to read the words matching the recently taught sound. Here you can see again the colours correspond with the shared reader to ensure fidelity is kept to the scheme. 

Weekly plan