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Phonics and Reading

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At Holy Family, we are determined that every child will learn to read by the age of six. As a school we aim to develop in children a love of reading, to provide systematic phonics teaching that enables children to read rapidly and to give children opportunities to apply what they have learned across the curriculum.



At Holy Family, early reading is taught using synthetic phonics as the main approach to reading. Pupils are systematically taught the phonemes (sounds), how to blend the sounds all through the word for reading, and how to segment the sounds in order to write words. Children are taught to use their phonic skills and knowledge as their first approach to reading, but are also taught how to read high frequency words which do not completely follow the phonic rules.


All of our early reading books are colour banded. Each child is given a colour band to choose their home reading book from which will help to ensure that the book they select is at about the right reading level for them. Every colour band includes books from a range of reading schemes so that they will experience a range of stories, text types and illustrations. The majority of books within the early book bands can be decoded using phonics skills and knowledge. A range of published schemes are used, these include Rigby Star Phonics, Big Cat Phonics, Floppy Phonics, Songbirds and Oxford Reading Tree.


Here is a video explaining how each phoneme (sound) is articulated:

The school follows the government published programme 'Letters and Sounds' to teach phonics.


Phonics is taught from Foundation and is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning.


Children have time to practise and rapidly expand their ability to read and spell words. They are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky words’, which are words with spellings that are unusual.


Phase One (Foundation Stage)

The aim of this Phase is to foster children’s speaking and listening skills as preparation for learning to read with phonics. Parents can play a vital role in helping their children develop these skills, by encouraging their children to listen carefully and talk extensively about what they hear, see and do.


Phases Two to Four (Foundation)

Phase Two is when systematic, high quality phonic work begins. During Phases Two to Four, children learn:


  • How to represent each of the forty-two sounds by a letter or sequence of letters
  • How to blend sounds together for reading and how to segment (split) words for spelling
  • The letter names
  • How to read and spell some high frequency ‘tricky’ words containing sounds not yet learned (for example ‘they’, ‘my’, ‘her’ and ‘you’)


The Letters and Sounds Programme we use suggests an order for teaching the letters. We recognise, however, that children’s personal experience of letters varies enormously. Most importantly, we ensure that phonics is taught and practised at a pace that is suitable for individual and groups of children.


Phase Five (Year One)

Children learn new ways of representing the sounds and practise blending for reading and segmenting for spelling.


Phase Six (Year Two)

During this phase, children become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers.


Statutory phonics screening check

At the end of year one, your child will undergo a statutory phonics screening check. This is a statutory assessment which began in 2012.  The test comprises of a mixture of real and nonsense words which children have to decode/read.

The phonics screening check is designed to confirm whether or not individual children have learned phonics decoding to the appropriate standard.  


Year 1 children who do not pass the phonics test, or who are not submitted, are identified and targeted in the summer term, before receiving additional support in Year 2. This includes the opportunity to revisit key sounds through targeted sessions across the key stage. In KS2 children identified as having a difficulty with phonics and reading continue to participate in regular additional phonics and reading sessions.