The Phonics Curriculum at Maple Cross – 2020 and beyond

Curriculum Leader: Emma Bailey

Phonics 1:1 tutor: Jackie Sheeky


Phonics teaches children to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension. They learn to form each letter, spell correctly, and compose their ideas step-by-step. At Maple Cross we use Ruth Miskin’s Read Write Inc scheme.


Children learn the English alphabetic code: first they learn one way to read the 40+ sounds and blend these sounds into words, then learn to read the same sounds with alternative graphemes.

They experience success from the very beginning. Lively phonic books are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ‘tricky’ words and, as children re-read the stories, their fluency increases.

Along with a thought-provoking introduction, prompts for thinking out loud and discussion, children are helped to read with a storyteller’s voice.


Guidance and videos for parents

Read Write Inc films show how we teach children to read and write. The films will help you and your child practise together at home.

Understanding Phonics

What is read write inc phonics

How to say the sounds

You can keep in contact and up to date with Ruth Miskin via their social media pages Facebook and Twitter pages.



In Nursery, all children are taught together with a focus on learning to listen carefully to the sounds letters and words make.

  • Hearing and talking
  • Environmental sounds – what can they hear in different environments?
  • Instrumental sounds – what different sounds can be made, heard and described
  • Body percussion – listening to and creating music and developing vocabulary to describe sounds
  • Rhythm and rhyme
  • Alliteration
  • Voice sounds
  • Oral blending and segmenting

Within Reception, Year 1 and Year 2, children are split into small groups to be taught new sounds and apply with daily reading through focused books. The children are assessed every half term and groups are readjusted as needed.

If your child has been identified as falling behind with their phonics knowledge they may be targeted with daily 1:1 tutoring to close the gaps.


Year 1 Phonics Screening Check

What is the Year 1 phonics screening check?

The phonics screening check is taken individually by all children in Year 1 in England, and is usually taken in June. It is designed to give 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 and will usually do the check in one sitting, taking around five to ten minutes.

You can download a copy of historic tests via the internet and the DfE website.

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. Every child in England reads the same words.

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. Crucially, it does not provide any clues, so your child just has to be able to decode it.

How will my child be scored? Is there a pass mark?

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 when they are in Year 2.

The test is out of 40 and a score of 32 or higher is usually a pass mark.

What happens to the results?

We 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 Year 6 SATs. If you have any concerns, do talk to your child’s class teacher or our phonics lead.

Do all schools and children have to participate?

All schools and academies in England must take part in the phonics screening check.

What can I do to help my child?

Check with your child’s teacher if there are any particular areas that you should focus on at home so that you are working together to support your child and enjoy the pleasure of reading together every day.

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.



Word or phrase Meaning
blend Saying the individual sounds that make up a word and then merging or blending the sounds together to say the word – used when reading.
consonant Most letters of the alphabet (excluding the vowels: a,e,i,o,u).
cvc words

Abbreviation used for consonant-vowel-consonant words, used to describe the order of sounds. Some examples of CVC words are: cat, pen, top, chat (because ch makes one sound).


Other similar abbreviations include:

• VC words e.g. on, is, it.

• CCVC words e.g. trap and black.

• CVCC words e.g. milk and fast.


Two letters which together make one sound e.g. ee, oa, ea, ch, ay.


There are different types of digraph:

• Vowel digraph: a digraph in which at least one of the letters is a vowel, for example; boat or day.


• Consonant digraph: two consonants which can go together, for example shop or thin.


• Split digraph (previously called magic e): two letters, which work as a pair to make one sound, but are separated within the word e.g. a-e, e-e, i-e, o-e, u-e. For example cake or pine.

grapheme Written letters or a group of letters which represent one single sound (phoneme) e.g. a, l, sh, air, ck.
phoneme A single sound that can be made by one or more letters – e.g. s, k, z, oo, ph, igh.
pure sounds Pronouncing each letter sound clearly and distinctly without adding additional sounds to the end e.g. ‘f’ not ‘fuh.’

tricky words

(red words)

This is the opposite of blending (see above). Splitting a word up into individual sounds – used when spelling and writing.
Click for Red Word Training and Red Word Revision.
trigraph Three letters which go together make one sound e.g. ear, air, igh, dge, tch.
vowel The letters a, e, i, o, u


Within classes the children use a complex speed chart to support their spelling and reading. This chart includes variations of the different consonant and vowel sounds found in words.

Click here for a copy of the complex speed chart.