Advanced Phonics Code
The phonic code refers to the relationship between the sounds we speak and the letters (codes) that are used to represent these sounds. The basic code being the most common and simplest letter to sound combination. For example a sounding /a/ like in the word apple or ir sounding /er/ like in the word bird. The basic code is taught to children from early years through to KS1.
The advanced code is simply more letter combinations (codes) for the sounds we speak. These codes whilst less common and at times more complex are just other ways of writing the sounds. Children will struggle to move through the KS2 spelling curriculum without understanding this. Teaching children to spell by learning the advanced code allows for a logical progression in children’s understanding of the English language. It builds directly on the phonics foundations of KS1 and as McGuiness concludes “is sufficient to cover around 90% of words in print.”
Examining sounds and codes in a logical manner helps children’s brains make sense of complex information. As McGuiness observes, “memory is more efficient when it is organised on the basis of what is more likely rather than what is unlikely. The human brain is particularly adept at storing recurring patterns.”7 Structuring sounds and codes in this way supports McGuiness’ theory, “our brains do the work for us… once the structure of the spelling code is set up visually, numerous features and patterns come to light.” 8
Codes are only included if they appear in five or more words that are common in print.