Which Phonics?

Potentially children could be taught up to a maximum of 461 phonic skills. Most commercial synthetic phonics programmes teach anything between 90 to 120 skills and an optimal number appears to be around 65. In this context, optimal means the smallest number of skills to read the maximum number of words where confusion is minimised. For example, three pronunciations are frequently taught for the letter combination ‘ch’ (as in ‘check’ ‘school’ and ‘chef’’) which means that the word ‘chip’ has several phonically plausible pronunciations. In such instances it is best to focus on just one pronunciation that enables children to read the maximum number of words. The skill matching conducted within 500 Books is based on the phonic skills that children are expected to be taught to pass the annual phonic screening test that they take when they are six years old at the end of Year 1. It is anticipated that they will be taught 64 graphemes and 44 phonemes which generate 85 different phonic skills.