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A member of Excalibur Academies Trust


'Reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible". Barack Obama


Our intention is to enable children to become confident and fluent readers through giving meaning to written symbols. 


Phonics is taught every morning in EYFS and Key Stage 1; in Year 2 Phonics has a Spelling focus. Phonics is regularly assessed, observed and adjusted to fit the needs of the children. The books pupils read in Reception, and Year 1 are linked to sounds they are learning and those they need to revise and practice.


Children will leave KS1 able to decode and understand age appropriate books. They will be ready to tackle the reading curriculum of KS2. Most importantly they will be able to decode the words around them and take pleasure in reading and understanding a range of books.


What is phonics?

Phonics is a systematic way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. Whilst there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, spoken English uses about 42 sounds (phonemes). These phonemes are represented by a letter or group of letters (graphemes). The teaching of phonics begins by teaching children the letter sounds in isolation and then building up to blending the sounds together to read whole words. In turn children are then able to use their phonic skills to segment words to support with spelling.


Phonics terms

Phoneme- the individual unit of sound in a word. The English language contains 44 different sounds.

Grapheme- the letter or group of letters that visually represents the phoneme (sound).

Digraph- 2 letters which represent 1 sound, for example: ck, ch, sh, th, ng

Trigraph- 3 letters representing 1 sound, for example: ear, air, ure, igh

Blending: merging the individual sounds (phonemes) to say a word. For example: c-a-t, cat or th-i-n, thin.

Segmenting- the skill of recognising the individual sounds (phonemes) needed to spell and write a word. 

Decode- work out and read a word.

Vowel- short vowel sounds: a, e, i, o, u long vowel sounds: ai, ee, igh, ow, oo

High Frequency Words- words which occur most often in English some of which cannot be sounded out phonically. Your child will learn these in sequence and you may see them abbreviated as HFW or called ‘tricky’ or ‘key’ words.

Tricky words- these are words which don’t follow phonic rules. Your child will be unable to use their phonic skills to sound them out and blend so they will need to learn to recognise the word and say it (whole word recognition). For example: said, have, was, any, once


We use Unlocking Letters and Sounds which was validated by the DfE in December 2021.  


We begin teaching phonics in the first few weeks of term 1 in Reception and children make rapid progress in their reading journey. Children begin to learn the main sounds heard in the English Language and how they can be represented, as well as learning ‘Common Exception’ words for Phases 2, 3 and 4. They use these sounds to read and write simple words, captions and sentences. Children leave Reception being able to apply the phonemes taught within Phase 2, 3 and 4.

Phase 2 Actions, images and handwriting

In Year 1 through Phase 5a, b and c, they learn any alternative spellings and pronunciations for the graphemes and additional Common Exception Words. By the end of Year 1 children will have mastered using phonics to decode and blend when reading and segment when spelling. In Year 1 all children are screened using the national Phonics Screening Check.

In Year 2, phonics continues to be revisited to ensure mastery of the phonetic code and any child who does not meet age related expectations will continue to receive support to close identified gaps.


Unlocking Letters and Sounds Progression Document

unlocking letters and sounds progression document.pdf




Additional Support for Parents:

Careful pronunciation of the sounds is really important. It will help your child to hear each sound in a word much more easily. This will then help them to read and write that word more accurately. 

Have a look at this video to help you pronounce each sound