Phonics Based System

It is widely accepted that English is a complicated language to learn, especially when it comes to writing. In short, the English alphabet is made up of 26 letters, these combine to make the 44 sounds or phonemes we speak. However, when it comes to the writing/spelling of these sounds there are over 150 combinations or graphemes.

Take as an example the sound /ul/ like in the word kettle:

Phonic Based System ul

The complexity of the English code is a direct result of our history as an island. Originally a Proto-Germanic language, English has over hundreds of years, transformed and developed into the modern language that we speak and write today. From Latin, Roman invasions, the Old Norse of the Vikings to William the Conqueror and early French. From the printed word to Shakespeare and empire building, English has absorbed it all.

It is widely accepted and supported by evidence, that ‘synthetic phonics’ is the most effective way to teach reading and spelling at KS1. The EEF states, “There have been a number of studies, reviews and meta-analyses that have consistently found that the systematic teaching of phonics is beneficial.”2 In a recent paper the DFE advised “systematic synthetic phonics teaching for all pupils, with plenty of practice,” and stressed “sufficient time for reading and writing, including phonics for spelling.” 3

However, despite the evidence, as children advance into KS2 structured and systematic phonics teaching is rarely embraced with the same rigour as in the Early Years and KS1. The focus shifts from teaching spelling through phonics to spelling rules which to put it bluntly, are a waste of time. (Unless when adding suffixes and therefore can be applied to a large number of words.)