School of Thought 

Rosemary Saxon - Assistant Principal - Quality Teaching and Learning 

What is phonics?

In response to my recent article about the Phonics Screening Check, I have received queries about what is phonics?  Phonics is about being aware of sound to letter correspondences.  Phonological awareness and phonemic awareness are about being able to hear and manipulate sounds at an oral level; phonics links these sounds with a visual representation. 

The InitiaLit program has a sequence of teaching and learning that gradually introduces the letters associated with the sounds, during Reception.  The illustration shows the sounds and letters introduced and embedded in Reception.  We expect all students to read and write these sounds by the end of the year.  The 2021 Reception cohort is showing success with this goal, through the consistent teaching and learning program, backed up by support and practice at home.  


Handwriting and letter formation are also essential skills which need to be practised consistently for success.  If a letter is written incorrectly it will be counted as an error in assessment tasks.  The brain needs to be programmed with the correct prompts from a very early age, so that children can write fluently both now and in their future.  The prompts are introduced with each letter and the children know these verbal prompts which support their accuracy. 


The Year 1 students are introduced to alternate ways of spelling the sounds, especially the long vowel sounds, as per the illustrations.  The Year 2 spelling content is dedicated to reteaching and expanding on the spelling choices and rules introduced in Year 2. 


The phonics skills explicitly taught, support our student’s success in both reading and writing.

If you have any further questions about the phonics content your child is learning, please contact your child's literacy teacher or email myself.