Phonics is a method of teaching children to read. Phonics works by breaking words down into it's individual sounds. There are 44 different sounds in the English language. Learning to read with phonics is therefore a bit like learning a code, after learning just a few sounds, you will be able to use this code to read 100's of words. The more sounds you know, the more words you will be able to work out how to read.
Not all words are phonetically decode-able however, a select few words you need to learn through the 'sight words' method of learning to read. Sight words is when you learn to read by memorising 1,000's of words individually. Although, it could be argued that this is not the most efficient way to learn to read. An example of this is that someone who has learnt to read through the sight words method might have memorised and be able to read the word 'boat', but may struggle if asked to read the word 'oat'. This would be an easy task for someone who had learnt to read with phonics who was able to use their decoding skills to break each word down into it's individual letter sounds.
At Walton on the Hill Primary School we base our phonics teaching on the 'Letters and Sounds' guidance is a phonics resource published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. We add other resources and strategies to enhance this to ensure all children get the best possible start to their reading which we recognise as the building blocks to their wider education.