Phonics & Early Reading

"Learning to read is like learning to run. The more you practise, the faster you become. So, practise once a day, and then head out and play." Sophie Carter.

Our phonics teaching starts in Reception and follows a very specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies as they move through school. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover. At Tregoze, we also model these strategies in shared reading and writing both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on the development of language skills for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.

How is Phonics taught at Tregoze?

At Tregoze Primary School we believe that for all our children to become fluent readers and writers, phonics must be taught through a systematic and structured phonics programme. We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme, to plan and provide daily engaging phonics lessons. There are five overlapping phases, which the children work through, usually starting in the pre-school setting. In each lesson, we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent a different sound, that these can be used in a variety of combinations and are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise all the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing. The planning follows a four-part planning to ensure clarity, consistency and rigour. This planning follows the routine of: Revisit > Teach > Practise > Apply, and every Friday, the lesson is a review style lesson. Each lesson is multi-sensory and therefore ensures a variety of reading, writing and ICT based activities are incorporated, in line with our SSP.

Phonics in Reception

Phonic lessons are initially 10 minutes in length, with daily additional oral blending, increasing to 30 minutes as soon as possible. Phonics teaching starts in reception in week 2 of term 1, to ensure the children make a strong start. At the beginning of the year, the focus is on daily oral blending moving on to blending with flashcards and then reading whole words on flashcards. We also focus on language development through high quality stories and rhymes. By the end of reception, children will have been taught up to the end of phase 4.

Phonics in Year 1

Phonic lessons in Year 1 are 30 minutes long. Children, from week 1 of term 1, continue to follow the progression within Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. By the end of year 1, children will have been taught up to the end of phase 5.

How is Early Reading taught at Tregoze?

Following Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, we complete weekly Reading Practice Sessions for all children in Reception and Year 1, and some children in Year 2. The sessions follow the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, and give the children the opportunity to apply their phonics knowledge by using a full matched decodable reader in a small group reading practice session. These sessions are 15 minutes long and happen three times a week (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday). On a Wednesday, the children are encouraged to take home their phonetically decodable book to continue to develop fluency, but more importantly, to ensure success is shared with the family.

Key Vocabulary used in Phonics and Reading Practice Sessions

  • Phoneme - The smallest unit of sound. There are approximately 44 phonemes in English (it depends on different accents). Phonemes can be put together to make words.
  • Grapheme - A way of writing down a phoneme. Graphemes can be made up from 1 letter e.g. p, 2 letters e.g. sh, 3 letters e.g. tch or 4 letters e.g ough.
  • GPC - This is short for Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence. Knowing a GPC means being able to match a phoneme to a grapheme (letter to a sound).
  • Digraph - two letters (graphemes) that makes one sound (phoneme).
  • Trigraph - three letters (graphemes) that makes one sound (phoneme).
  • Oral Blending - hearing phonemes and being able to merge them together to make a word. Children need to develop this skill before they will be able to blend written words.
  • Blending - looking at a written word, looking at each grapheme and using knowledge of GPCs to work out which phoneme each grapheme represents and then merging these phonemes together to make a word. This is the basis of reading.
  • Oral Segmenting - This is the act hearing a whole word and then splitting it up into the phonemes that make it. Children need to develop this skill before they will be able to segment words to spell them.
  • Segmenting - This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes that make it, using knowledge of GPCs to work out which graphemes represent those phonemes and then writing those graphemes down in the right order. This is the basis of spelling.

How to help and support at home

If you are a parent and would like more information about how to support your child with phonics at home, please follow this link to find the Reception and Year 1 overview as well as videos of the sound pronunciations, letter formation sheets and other helpful resources: