Subjects -

Phonics & Early Reading

‘That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet
Jhumpa Lahiri 

Phonics and Early Reading at St Anne’s

Phonics is the key strategy that supports the teaching of  reading  and writing. The teaching of phonics teaches children how to hear, identify and use different sounds to distinguish one word from another. In the English alphabet, every letter and different combinations of letters make particular sounds for example the letter ‘s’  can make a hissing sound like a snake. Teaching children to blend the sounds of letters together helps them decode unfamiliar or unknown words by sounding them out.

At St Anne’s we combine high quality daily phonics teaching with an exposure to a range of quality texts and the promotion of reading for pleasure.

We follow the Read, Write Inc programme to teach phonics using the order of letter sounds from the Letters and Sounds programme. Phonics is taught daily in Reception and Year 1 and lessons follow the same structure:

  • Revisit the phonemes ( sounds) already learned
  • Teach new phonemes and graphemes (sounds and the letters that make the sounds)
  • Practise new ‘ sounds learned
  • Apply the new ‘sounds’ by reading and writing words
  • Assess the new knowledge


The Letters and Sounds programme splits the teaching of sounds into the following 6 phases:

Phase 1 – This phase develops children’s important speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for the phonic learning which  starts in phase 2. It is important that in this phase children become attuned to the sounds around them and they are ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.

Phase 2 – Children are taught the  phonemes (sounds) one at a time in the following sequence – s, a, t, p, i, n, m, d, g, o, c, k, ck, e, u, r, h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss

Phase 3 – By the time children begin phase 3 they will be able to blend and segment words containing the 19 letters taught in phase 2. In phase 3 , 25 new graphemes are introduced – j, v, w, x, y, z, zz, qu, ch, sh, th, ng, ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er. The children will also learn the letter names.

Phase 4 – When the children start phase 4 they will know a grapheme ( representation of letters) for each of the 42 phonemes ( sounds.)They will be able to blend phonemes to read simple CVC words like cat, dog , run and segment words in order to spell them. Children will also begin to read straightforward 2-syllable words and simple captions.

Phase 5 – Children can read words with adjacent consonants e.g. trap, string and flask. They will also be able to read polysyllabic words. Children will learn more graphemes and phonemes. The alternative pronounciations for graphemes will be also be taught. The following sounds are covered in Phase 5: ay, ou, ie, ea, oy, ir, ue, aw, wh, ph, ew, oe, au, ey, a-e, e-e, i-e, o-e, u-e

Phase 6 – By this phase the children have learned the most frequently occurring grapheme-phoneme correspondences in the English language. They will be able to read many unfamiliar words automatically. Children are taught to understand and apply suffixes – ed, ing, ful, est, er, ment, ness, en, s, es. They will understand the rules for adding ing, ed, er, est, ful, ly, y.

Throughout Reception and Year 1, children will take part in daily phonics sessions. As well as identification and recognition of phonemes ( the sounds ) and graphemes ( how we represent the sounds) , these sessions focus on key reading skills such as decoding words to  to read  and segmenting sounds to spell. By the end of Reception, children will have been taught all of the phases up to phase 5. These phases are consolidated in Year 1 and then the children progress onto phase 6.


It is expected that by Year 2 children will have progressed through all the phonics phases. In order to support all pupils, daily phonics  and speed sound sessions take place in Year 2 and spelling rules are taught in line with the National Curriculum programme of study using the Spelling Shed programme and resources.

In June, all Year 1 children  complete a phonics screening test which is a short assessment to assess children’s phonics ability  in decoding unknown  words to an appropriate standard. The test consists of 40 words using a variety of phonemes and graphemes that they have been taught .These words consist of real and nonsense words.  Pupils who do not reach the expected standard in Year 1 will be provided with additional phonics support and intervention in order to allow them to meet the expected standard in Year 2.

Teaching Reading

At St Anne’s ,children develop their reading skills in the following ways:

Whole class reading: children read a challenging text together and are taught new vocabulary during whole class reading lessons. The children develop their reading fluency and reading skills like retrieving information

Guided Reading: Guided reading takes place in a small group, with a teacher or teaching assistant, and focuses on developing children’s ability to become independent readers, thinkers and learners. The children are grouped by ability and read individual copies of the same text, which matches the reading level of the group to develop reading fluency. Texts are selected from the schools guided reading schemes or using ‘real’ books. Guided reading with KS1 uses a combination of phonics work (to promote children’s blending and decoding skills) and other guided reading schemes (to promote comprehension/understanding).

‘DEAR’ time Drop everything and read) Children read any material that interests them, to assist them in fostering a genuine love of reading and help them to appreciate its value. Teaching read at the same time as the children to model a love of reading.

Class stories: Texts that are age appropriate and of interest to the children are read aloud by the teacher. We believe that giving children the opportunity to hear and adult / teacher read to them, develops a child’s ability to comment on and respond to events and experiences within a text. These sessions also allow the teacher to check a child’s comprehension, by asking literal and inferential questions, which aid deeper understanding of the plot and themes of the story, also increasing their vocabulary.

Reading at home: From reception, children take home book banded (colour-coded) reading books, which are suitable for their reading ability (these books are often from a range of reading schemes) to read at home and in school during independent reading time.

Add book band link here

Reading Partners: A number of key staff are dedicated to the improvement of reading in the Early Years and KS1. Our reading partners work primarily with our pupil premium children to ensure that all of our children have the opportunity to excel in reading. Reading sessions typically last 10-15 minutes and involve 1:1 reading support.

Reading with adults: We love welcoming parent helpers into  our school to read with a range of children. This opportunity not only helps to develop the child’s fluency and understanding of a text, but also allows them to build on their interpersonal and social skills.

Reading buddies: Classes ‘buddy’ up with other classes to read together .Older children read with younger children to promote a love of reading across the school.