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Phonics teaching at North Downs follows a six stage structured approach called Letters and Sounds. This is a synthetic approach to phonics which was advocated by Jim Rose following extensive research.

Teachers teach children to listen for the 44 sounds of letters and combinations of letters before moving on to make words. The approach ensures children have fun with the sounds. We involve the children in activities and games to help them to identify and say the sounds. The Department for Education and Skills state phonic work "is best understood as a body of knowledge and skills about how the alphabet works" and explain that "phonic programmes should not encourage children to guess words from non-phonic clues such as pictures before applying phonic knowledge and skills."

Children need to learn how letters and sounds correspond, then how to blend them together in order, through a word, to read it.

Very briefly; the content of the six phases are as follows:

PHASE ONE                                                                                                                 Children will understand that sounds are different and words are composed of sounds or "phonemes". Children learn to listen and talk about similarities and differences between sounds.

PHASE TWO                                                                                                                 Children will understand that sounds and phonemes are represented by letters. They will hear and say sounds in words in the correct order and start reading and spelling.

PHASE THREE                                                                                                              Children link sounds to letters and the alphabet, reading and writing one symbol or "grapheme" for each of the 40+ sounds/phonemes. They will blend and segment words with three phonemes.

PHASE FOUR                                                                                                                Children blend and segment words of four and five phonemes.

PHASE FIVE                                                                                                                       Children blend and segment words using alternative ways of pronouncing the graphemes and spelling the phonemes that have already been taught; they learn that there can be more than one way to represent a sound.

PHASE SIX                                                                                                                                  By this stage, children should be able to read independently and with increasing fluency; longer and less familiar texts. They will be spelling with increasing accuracy and confidence.