At Chesterton we follow the Letters and Sounds strategy for teaching Phonics.

Synthetic Phonics is an approach to teaching young children how to say and blend letters and sounds to make words. It is the first step in your child becoming a reader.

Synthetic Phonics Introduction

It can be hard to help your child learn to read. We may have learnt to read differently to the way our children are being taught or have learnt English as an additional language.


Phonics teaches children to read by matching sounds (phonemes) to letters (graphemes) or groups of letters.


Here are some of the words and phrases you may hear from your child and what they mean!


Phoneme- the individual unit of sound in a word. The English language contains 44 different sounds.


Grapheme- the letter or group of letters that visually represents the phoneme (sound).


Digraph- 2 letters which represent 1 sound, for example: ck, ch, sh, th, ng


Trigraph- 3 letters representing 1 sound, for example: ear, air, ure, igh


Blending: merging the individual sounds (phonemes) to say a word. For example: c-a-t, cat or th-i-n, thin.


Segmenting- the skill of recognising the individual sounds (phonemes) needed to spell and write a word.


De-code- work out and read a word.


Vowel- short vowel sounds: a, e, i, o, u long vowel sounds: ai, ee, igh, ow, oo


Vowels- a-e, e-e, i-e, o-e, u-e e.g. name, time (also called split digraphs)


High Frequency Words- words which occur most often in English some of which cannot be sounded out phonically. Your child will learn these in sequence and you may see them abbreviated as HFW or called ‘tricky’ or ‘key’ words.


Tricky words- these are words which don’t follow phonic rules. Your child will be unable to use their phonic skills to sound them out and blend so they will need to learn to recognise the word and say it (whole word recognition). For example: said, have, was, any, once.


Punctuation- full stops, commas, speech marks, apostrophes, question marks and exclamation marks. As your child gets better at de-coding words they will begin to recognise and use punctuation mark clues in their reading.


Reading is the ability to look at written symbols and understand their meaning. Children who are ‘learning to read’ gain the skills to recognise the symbols (graphemes), de-code unfamiliar words and remember those learnt before. Once your child has mastered this they will begin to develop their understanding (comprehension) and be ‘reading to learn’.


Pronunciation of sounds

What differs now from when most of us were children, is the very short sounds that letters make. You may remember being taught ‘t’ as ‘ter’, now it is a very short and snappy ‘t’ – if you whisper it, it is easy to make the sound. The two you may find particularly tricky to pronounce are l and n. with the ‘l’ sound, pronounce as you would at the end of ‘Hull’ more of an ‘ul’ sound. With ‘n’, do not be tempted to say ‘ner’, it’s very much an ‘n’ on its own, like ‘Euan’. Another tricky one is ‘r’, not ‘rer’ as you might think, but more of a growling ‘rrr’ sound. When you say a letter, think how it actually sounds in a word, for example ‘f’ might come out as ‘fer’ but in a word has a very short ‘f’ sound, like in ‘fluff’, if you think that ‘f’ is said ‘fer’ then this word would become ‘ferluffer’.


For quite a lot of letters, there is the temptation to put an ‘er’ on the end, ‘h’, ‘j’, ‘t’ being a few examples. Its really important though that you keep the sounds really short, because if you think about it, when children are blending (which means putting the sounds together to make words) it wont work if all the letters end with ‘er’ sound. Think of ‘cat’ with the way we were taught it would make sense to pronounce it ‘ceratter’, whereas with the short, whispered sounds its far easier to blend the letters.


Leaders have high expectations and pupils are polite and well mannered. Behaviour is "good". Ofsted 2023