English - Phonics & Reading

Phonics and Early Reading

At Whitwick St John the Baptist, Reading is at the heart of our school. We are committed to creating a life-long love of reading and for reading for our children, staff and whole school community. 

You can also find information about how we develop a love of reading and our school library here.

Phonics & Early Reading

At Whitwick St John the Baptist, children will learn to read with confidence, fluency and understanding, developing the skills to access the wider curriculum and reach their full potential: learning to read; reading to learn.

With the very best start in our Pre-school, Foundation Stage and KS1, our children enter KS2 as confident and fluent readers, ready and able to take on the challenges of Key Stage 2.


At Whitwick St John the Baptist, we use Letters and Sounds as our systematic synthetics phonics program (SSP).


As part of our pre-school curriculum, children begin the foundations of their communication, language and literacy skill from the teaching of Phase 1. Phase 1 is incredibly important and creates the foundations for all of their phonics learning. This phase includes vital skills needed to listen and gain awareness of different sounds through seven different aspects. Phase 1 is arranged under the following seven phases:

- Aspect 1: General sound discrimination- hearing sounds within their environment

- Aspect 2: General sound discrimination- hearing instrumental sounds and promote speaking and listening through the use of musical instruments

- Aspect 3: General sound discrimination- body percussion, use of multi- sensory experiences such as using body parts to make sounds i.e. clapping, stamping.

- Aspect 4: Rhythm and rhyme-

- Aspect 5: Alliteration- repetition of the same sound or letter at the beginning of most of the words in a sentence

- Aspect 6: Voice sounds- the use of sound affects to accompany play or the use of their senses

- Aspect 7: Oral blending and segmenting- children begin to hear the initial sounds of words and tuning into sounds

This vital phase is where children begin their skills of listening and awareness of different sounds, the range of aspects enhance their ability to listen carefully and talk extensively about what they hear, see and do. 


Foundation Stage:

When transitioning into Foundation Stage, children are exposed to Phase 2, which marks the start of systematic phonic work. It begins the introduction of grapheme and phoneme correspondences, whereby, oral blending and segmenting of words, transforms to blending and segmenting of all 26 letters. As soon as the first few correspondences have been learnt, children are taught to blend and segment with in them. Whilst in Foundation Stage, children continue to be assessed regularly, this form of assessment will allow intervention groups to be formed immediately to tighten any gaps. By the end of the phase, children will be reading CVC words, whilst being introduced to two-syllable words and simple captions. Once children have covered Phase 2 phonemes, they begin the next stage of recognising the phonemes within the alphabet, called Phase 3.

Phase 3, completes the teaching of the alphabet, and children move on to learning another 25 grapheme sounds represented by more than one letter, this is called a digraph. Children continue to segment and blend to read words and captions. Children progress on to learning common exception words and also begin to spell some of these words.

When entering Phase 4, children are taught to further manipulate the phonemes and graphemes they have already learnt. The main aim of this phase is to consolidate the children's knowledge and to help them learn to read and spell words which have adjacent consonants, such as trap, string and milk. They will be able to blend phonemes to read CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words and segment in order to spell them. Children will also have begun reading straightforward two-syllable words and simple captions, as well as reading and spelling some tricky words and no new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase.   

By the end of Foundation Stage, it is our intention that all children will leave being secure at phase 4.

Year 1:

At the beginning of Year 1, children will begin on Phase 5. Alongside the teaching of Phase 5, children will be assessed on their phoneme recognition from Foundation stage. Results from these assessments inform teachers as to which children need additional support in the form of phonic interventions.

Children will then begin to broaden their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and spelling as they move through Phase 5. In Phase 5, children will learn more graphemes and phonemes as well as alternative pronunciations for graphemes such as ea in tea, head and break. Children use these sounds to read real and pseudo words (not real words). At the end of year 1 children are assessed using the ‘Phonics Screening Check’. The purpose of the phonics screening check is to confirm that they have learnt phonic decoding to an age-appropriate standard.

With continued teaching and application of segmenting and blending graphemes children will become fluent readers ready for transition into year 2.

Year 2:

At the beginning of Year 2, children will be assessed on their phoneme recognition from Foundation Stage and Year 1.  We spend the initial weeks covering Phase 5 phonemes again to ensure that children have recalled these from the end of the following year. Any children who did not meet the Phonics Check standard or have not been able to recall the previous year’s phonemes will be provided with additional support to ensure accelerated progress is made.

We then teach Phase 6 where children begin to tackle grammatical rules for the spellings when writing tenses, adding suffixes and prefixes, contractions and strategies for spelling tricky words. This is taught in conjunction with the spelling programme of study from the English National Curriculum for Year 2.

At the end of the year, those children who did not achieve the ‘Phonics Screening Check’ standard, take the phonics check again and results are again reported to parents. 

Key Stage 2 (Years 3-6):

Children who did not meet the ‘Phonic Screening Check’ standard in Year 2 will receive targeted support as they progress through the school. This will include support using phonics but also other reading strategies such as learning sight words and echo reading.

Early Reading (decoding) - Books

Children will be taught to apply their phonics by decoding, in order to read books.

In addition to the reading books mentioned below. All children will be able to borrow a library book of their choice (supported by the class teacher) to support their development of ‘Reading for Pleasure’.

Foundation Stage:

In Foundation Stage, children will initially bring home books with no words.  This enables children to practise discussing the book with parents, without needing to decode words. Alongside a picture book, children will bring home a decodable phonics book (linked to the sounds that the children have been taught) and a book banded book matched to their reading attainment. It is important that children reread the book throughout the week at home because this enables them to become more fluent as they begin to recognise the words without needing to decode and also will ensure they feel successful.

Year 1:

Children will continue to read decodable books (phonics book) in Year 1.  Again these will be sounds that your child is already secure with. Children may bring home a book with sounds that they previously learnt and are yet not fully secure with.

Year 2:

Children in Year 2 who are secure with their phonics will be provided with two book banded books matched to their current attainment. When ready, they will move away from banded books and become a ‘Free Reader’ where they will have increased choice of books, supported by the class teacher. If children are not secure with the phonic phases previously learnt, they will continue to access decodable books until they are secure alongside the additional classroom support.

Key Stage 2 (Years 3-6):

Where needed, children in Year 3 and above will continue on book banded books until they are fluent and confident readers. Each Key Stage 2 classroom has an age appropriate classroom library that they can select their reading book from and also have access to the school library.