Our Lady and St Anselm'sRoman Catholic Primary School

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What is Phonics?


Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. They are taught:


  • To recognise the sounds that individual letters make
  • identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make such as 'sh'
  • Blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word


Children will then use this knowledge to decode new words that they encounter through sight or hearing. This is the initial stage in your child learning to read.


The children are taught to read words by blending, which means pushing the sounds together to create the word. The children then use segmenting, which means sounding out the word, to spell - sounding out the words first to write down the sounds they can hear.


By the end of Reception phase, children are expected to be secure in Phase 3 and into Phase 4. By the end of Year 1, children are expected to be secure in Phase 5. When completing Key Stage 1, Year 2 children should be secure in the National Curriculum Year 2 spelling expectations.


Why Phonics?


At OLSA, we use research that has proven that when phonics is taught in a structured way as with the Red Rose Scheme we follow, it is the most effective way to teach children to read.

Our Curriculum Intent for Phonics

In our EYFS and KS1 classes, we provide a rich reading environment and by doing so, our children learn to listen, speak and discriminate between sounds. Reading opportunities are linked with all stages of their learning. Speaking and listening is given a high priority for children to experiment and become confident and fluent decoders. Our carefully sequenced approach allows children to become confident in segmenting, blending and decoding words through each phonics phase.


Implementation: Phonics & Early Reading

To achieve this, reading is central to all learning. 

By being exposed to a wide range of stories and texts, children are better able to make sense of the world. We foster a love of reading from an early age when the children join us in Reception. To ensure that reading is at the heart of the curriculum, we immerse the children in reading experiences such as daily story times, sharing stories and reading aloud stories including poems, rhymes and non-fiction to develop their speaking and listening skills as well as their vocabulary.  


Reading development is closely related to that of phonics, communication and writing, therefore we ensure that the children are reading books that are closely matched to their phonic level, by providing the children with a reading book aligned to their phonic level, as well as a reading book that supports their vocabulary development and language comprehension. We also use a systematic, synthetic approach to phonics to support the development of early reading.


We use the Lancashire ‘Red Rose Letters and Sounds’ scheme to support our discrete, daily teaching of phonics in EYFS and KS1. This is underpinned by high quality texts, language and vocabulary. We use a systematic approach of ‘revisit, teach, practise, apply,’ in order to provide the children with the phonic knowledge and language comprehension they need to read and write. For more information about each phonic phase click here. Children are taught consistently through the same approach from EYFS into KS1. 

At OLSA, we teach Phonics through:

- Daily lessons which follow a systematic approach: revisiting sounds already taught, learning new sounds and practising with applying sounds through activities.

- A multi-sensory approach to teaching, which is engaging.

- Reinforcing and applying acquired phonic knowledge and skills across the curriculum and in shared/guided reading and writing.


Children in Year 2 who have successfully completed all phonics phases will move onto the Red Rose Spelling scheme, which enables children to revise the alternative phonemes and graphemes previously taught whilst introducing them into the spelling rules that will be required to transition into KS2. In KS2, children who require additional support through phonics are supported through a phonics based intervention, following the same sequence as Red Rose known as Bounce Back Phonics. Here children are monitored and tracked half-termly to address and close gaps in learning to ensure all children become confident, fluent readers.


Phonics is given priority and all efforts are made to support the children with their learning. Phonics is allocated 5 discrete sessions per week from EYFS to KS1. All children will have equal access to phonics. Pupils identified with Special Educational Needs are identified and work within their individual level, supported by the class teacher or assistant.


Books carefully matched:

It is essential that children have regular opportunity to practise the new sounds that they have learned which is why all home reads are closely and carefully matched to the child's current phonic learning. A book will be sent home each week to enable the child to practise the sounds learned to aid their decoding and fluency skills. The aim of this is to build confidence in the children to become confident and fluent readers, decoding texts with ease. We use a variety of reading schemes, including phonics bug, to capture the children's interest and support their reading development. All stages are mapped to ensure progression in line with the Letters & Sounds Programme followed in school.


Additional Reading:

Children also have access to additional reading materials to stretch and challenge them. Children will also be sent home with a challenge book, matched at their phonic level, Children will also have access to a range of texts from the curriculum in their own library areas, the key stage library and also from visits to the local library that they can select to develop their love of reading and being an independent reader.


Phonics Phases 


The children are taught in small groups organised by their Phonic phase. Children are taught by Red Rose trained teachers and teaching assistants. Children are assessed throughout their sessions and at the end of the half term using Phonics Tracker to ensure their progression and identify gaps in learning. Groups are re-assessed every half term dependent upon progress.


Phase One

Supports the importance of speaking and listening and develops children’s discrimination of sounds, including letter sounds. Children will begin this phase immediately upon entry into OLSA.


Phase Two

The children learn to pronounce the sounds themselves in response to letters, before blending them. This leads to them being able to read simple words and captions.

Letters: s, a, t, p, i, n, m, d, g, o, c, k, ck, e, u, r, h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss

Tricky Words: the, to, I, no, go


Phase Three

Completes the teaching of the alphabet and moves on to sounds represented by more than one letter. The children will learn letter names and how to read and spell some tricky words.

Letters: 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

Tricky Words: he, she, we, me, be, was, my, you, they, her, all, are


Phase Four

The children learn to read and spell words containing adjacent consonants.

Tricky Words: said, so, have, like, some, come, were, there, little, one, do, when, out, what


Phase Five

The children broaden their knowledge of sounds for use in reading and spelling. They will begin to build word-specific knowledge of the spellings of words.

Sounds: ay, ou, ie, ea, oy, ir, ue, aw, wh, ph, ew, oe, au, ey, a_e, i_e, u_e, o_e

Tricky Words: oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked


Phase Six

This focuses more sharply on word-specific spellings. This phase will be covered through the introduction of the Red Rose Spelling Scheme which adds on perfectly at the end of phase 5 to provide continuity and consistency of approach. It encourages children to become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers ready for the transition to Key Stage 2.


Here are some links to information and websites that you may find useful to help you support your child in their early reading and writing skills.

Sounds of the English Phonic Code -Synthetic Phonics.wmv

Tami Reis-Frankfort, reading specialist and trainer, demonstrates how to pronounce the sounds of the English Phonic Code, when teaching children to read with Synthetic Phonics.