At Mersey Park we follow the ‘Jolly Phonics’ scheme to teach Phonics, if you would like to read about how this is taught, please see the English page here.

What is Phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. The children are taught how

  • recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
  • identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make – such as ‘ch’ or ‘th’;
  • blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.

Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see.  This is the first important step in learning to read.


What is the Phonics screening check?

The phonics screening check is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonics knowledge. It helps us to confirm whether your child has met the required standard. This check takes place in Year 1 during the Summer term.


How does the check work?

Your child will sit with a teacher he or she knows and be asked to read 40 words aloud. Your child may have read some of the words before, while others will be completely new. The check normally takes just a few minutes to complete and there is no time limit. If your child is struggling, the teacher will stop the check. The check is carefully designed not to be stressful for your child.


What are ‘nonsense’ words?

The check will contain a mix of real words and ‘nonsense’ words. Your child will be told before the check that there will be non-words that he or she will not have seen before. The children will be familiar with this because we already use ‘nonsense’ words when we teach phonics.

‘Nonsense’ words are important to include because words such as ‘jip’ or ‘keff’ are new to all children. Children cannot read the ‘nonsense’ words by using their memory or vocabulary; they have to use their decoding skills. This is a fair way to assess their ability to decode.


After the check

Parents are informed of the outcomes of the Phonics test. All children are individuals and develop at different rates. The screening check ensures that teachers understand which children need extra help with phonic decoding.


Helping your child with Phonics

Phonics works best when children are given plenty of encouragement and learn to enjoy reading and books. Parents play a very important part in helping with this.

Some simple steps to help your child learn to read through phonics:

  • Help your child to complete their phonics homework. Try to do a little bit each night.
  • You can then highlight these sounds when you read with your child. Teaching how sounds match with letters is likely to start with individual letters such as ‘s’, ‘a’ and ‘t’ and then will move on to two-letter sounds such as ‘ee’, ‘ch’ and ‘ck’.
  • With all books, encourage your child to ‘sound out’ unfamiliar words and then blend the sounds together from left to right rather than looking at the pictures to guess. Once your child has read an unfamiliar word you can talk about what it means and help him or her to follow the story.
  • Read regularly. Books will be chosen carefully to reinforce and develop your child’s phonic knowledge. Your child will be able to work out new words from their letters and sounds, rather than just guessing.
  • Encourage your child to blend the sounds all the way through a word.
  • Word and letters. You can also encourage your child to read words from your shopping list or road signs to practise phonics.
  • Try to promote an interest in discovering and reading new words.


Useful websites



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