Reading and Phonics

Learning to Read...

... is a complex process. In school we use a range of approaches based on each individual child’s needs. Children need a great deal of practice at every stage. Parents and other family members can make a vital contribution to this learning process by reading with their children for about ten minutes every day. Research has shown that considerably higher standards in reading can be achieved by children who read at home. It is important that children are not rushed through the initial stages of learning to read and are helped to develop a positive attitude towards books and to enjoy reading.


The alphabet is taught first and firmly embedded. The children rapidly learn sounds and the letter or groups of letters they need to represent those sounds.  This learning is taught and consolidated every day. High-frequency words that are not phonically regular are taught as ‘tricky’ words and practiced frequently. Well-written, lively phonic books are closely matched to children’s increasing knowledge of phonics and ‘tricky’ words, so that, early on, they experience plenty of success. Repeated readings of the texts support their increasingly fluent decoding. Discussion of each story helps children both to understand what they are reading and to build up their knowledge of how texts work.


We are passionate about teaching children to read. Reading enriches children's vocabulary, their writing and their spelling. They have access to the wider curriculum and their self-esteem is enhanced because they realise they are succeeding. Reading is a key skill that all our children need to master. We do not rely exclusively on one reading scheme but offer the children books from a wide range different schemes. Throughout Key Stage 1 our reading books are organised so that children are reading books that only contain the phonemes they have learnt. Each child has a personal phoneme tracker to enable us to record which phonemes they have mastered.

Our new school library

 Reading and Phonics

English is taught daily with work appropriately differentiated to match all abilities. We aim to encourage the children to develop a love of literature and language and the confidence to continue reading and writing throughout their lives.

 With parental support, we want all of our children to:

• speak clearly and confidently in any situation.

• listen actively and respond appropriately, developing knowledge and opinion.

• read fluently for both pleasure and information.

• write clearly and with confidence in any given genre. 

• use spelling rules, phonics and grammar accurately.

• be able to proof read their own work and make amendments and improvements.


What is phonics?


There has been a big shift in the past few years in how we teach reading in school.  This is having a huge impact and helping many children learn to read and spell.  Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read.  Phonics runs alongside other teaching methods to help children develop vital reading skills and give them a real love of reading – hopefully for life.

 Our phonics teaching is based around a resource call Song of Sounds, which provides a range of pictures, actions and songs to help children to remember the links between sounds and letters.


Phoneme?  Grapheme?

Words are made up from small units of sound (phonemes) and phonics teaches children to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word.  This helps them learn to read and spell words.

In phonics lessons children are taught three main things:

1              GPCs (grapheme phoneme correspondences)

GPCs simply means that children are taught all the phonemes (sounds) in the English language and ways of writing them down (letter combinations). 

2              Blending

Children are taught to blend sounds together by merging the individual sounds together until they can hear what the word is.  This is a vital reading skill and enables them to blend the sounds c/a/t into the word cat.

3              Segmenting

Segmenting is the opposite of blending!  Children are able to say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up.  This is a vital spelling skill and enables them to break the whole word cat down into the individual sounds c/a/t which can then be written down.


Why is phonics so tricky?

The English language is very complicated!  English only has around 44 phonemes (sounds) but there are around 120 graphemes or ways of writing down those 44 phonemes.  Plus, we only have 26 letters in the alphabet so some graphemes are made up from more than one letter. 

If you are unsure about the pronunciation of any phonemes there is a helpful guide to this if you click on the following link

 Articulation of phonemes:


Learning to read is like cracking a code so teaching phonics is a way of teaching children to crack the code. As reading is the key to learning it is important that we teach phonics clearly and systematically learning easy bits first then progressing to trickier bits! 

Phase 2 Phonic letters


Phase 3 Phonic sounds


air, ear, ure.

Phase 4 Phonic sounds

Consonent Blends

Phase 5 sounds

ay,oy,oo,ie,ei,ue,ew,sh,ch,th,magic e, oe,eigh,ou,oar,au,aw

Phase 6 sounds

Spelling patterns & irregular words


However there are also tricky words in English that just do not fit the phonics code that children need to recognise on sight, for example the words was and saw.

At Barrington Primary School reading and phonics are taught in accordance with the National Curriculum  and the support of The Song of Sounds Phonics scheme. This scheme uses songs and pictures to support the children's learning and a video clip of some of the songs can be found below.


What is the government phonic screening check?

The Government has a phonics screening check for all Year 1 children. Each child will sit with a teacher they know and be asked to read 40 words aloud. Some of the words they may have read before and some words will be completely new to them. The test normally takes a few minutes to complete and there is no time limit. The 40 words in the test will be made up of real words and non-words. The test is carefully designed not to be stressful for your child.

It will check that your child can:

• Sound out and blend graphemes in order to read simple words e.g. n-igh-t

• Read phonically decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words, e.g. cat, sand, windmill.

• Read a selection of nonsense words.


What are nonsense words?

Non-words or pseudo words are nonsense words made up of letter sounds. For example: ‘vam’ or ‘jound’.

These words are included in the screening test so they are unfamiliar to the child and therefore test their ability to decode words using phonics.



Helping your child with phonics

Suggested websites

• BBC  - There are a number of resources available through the BBC website, for example:


• Family Learning:


• Phonics Play – this is a subscription website. We have paid for in school use and the children are familiar with the games on it. Unfortunately, the subscription does not extend to home use, but individual subscriptions are available to purchase at £12 per year. Some games are free to play


• ICT games 


• Letters and Sounds – we use this website in school for resources and games. There are useful online games accessible via this website for example: