Phonics and early reading



At Shield Road Primary School, we strive towards all of our children having a passion for reading and becoming fluent readers as a result of excellent phonics teaching, provision and intervention.



All children learn to read through decoding (phonics).  Therefore in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 children will be taught daily phonics lessons to enable them to learn phonemes (sounds) and to blend these in order to decode words quickly and fluently. 


 At Shield Road Primary School, we use Letters and Sounds as our systematic synthetics phonics program. We also use the Jolly Phonics actions to support the children’s kinaesthetic learning of the sounds.




The Early Years environment at Shield Road Primary is language rich. We encourage a love of reading. Reading is promoted across all Areas of Learning within our learning environment. We send home two types of books; one is a reading scheme book and the other is a shared reading book. The reading scheme book is phonic based in order to support the acquisition of phonic skills to sound out words. The shared reading book fosters an enjoyment of a wide range of texts. Children are also encouraged to bring their favourite books in from home to be shared in class.


In the Early Years there are daily adult led phonics sessions. This learning is then practised through a carousel of activities.


Letters and Sounds Phase 1 concentrates on developing children’s speaking and listening skills and lays the foundation for the phonic work which starts in Phase 2. Phase 1 activities are taught throughout the reception year.


Phase 1 has 7 aspects –

1 - Environmental sounds

2 - Instrumental sounds

3 - Body percussion

4 - Rhythm and rhyme

5 - Alliteration

6 - Voice sounds

7 - Oral blending and segmenting


Phase 2 introduces the 19 most common single letter sounds and 6 tricky words to read and eventually, to spell.

The letter sounds are introduced in sets of 4 sounds, one set taught each week. Children are encouraged to begin blending sounds to form words from the first week, for example, sat, pat, at. Children are taught to use “phoneme fingers” to segment sounds for spelling simple regular words.

As children acquire phonic skills they will be encouraged to read and spell cvc words and simple captions. 








Phase 3 builds on Phase 2 but the children learn 27 more sounds (including 2 different ways to say ‘oo’ eg, book, loop) and 12 more tricky words to read and spell.

During this phase children will continue to be encouraged to read and spell labels, captions and simple sentences.














Useful websites are:



Year 1

At the beginning of Year 1, the children will be taught phase 4 and will recap earlier phases.


During Phase 4, sounds with adjacent consonants or initial & final blends are taught e.g. bl, dr, sc, ft, ct. These can be sounded out but recognising them quickly makes for a stronger reader.

We will also teach an extra 14 tricky words:
















 We will then teach phase 5, which involves learning

  • 22 new sounds,
  • alternative pronunciations of known graphemes. Eg: a as in hat, bacon, path, was.
  • alternative spellings for each phoneme.

Eg: rain play   make   eight

  • 9 more tricky words.












Alongside the tricky words, the children will be taught the Year 1 common exception words.

Children will be regularly assessed throughout the year and we will give extra support to children who need more practise to learn the phonemes.  We will also send home phonemes which your child needs extra support with so that you can practise with them too.


Year 2


Many children will recap phase 5 and then move onto phase 6 when ready.


Phase 6 continues to develop the skills needed in order to read and spell a wide range of more complex words.

Skill taught include:


  • Words with unusual grapheme-phoneme correspondences.
  • Rules for adding suffixes eg. –ing -ed -ly   -y -ful -es -s -er -est -ment -ness
  • Apostrophes for contractions eg. I’m can’t don’t didn’t let’s I’ll he’s there’s we’re
  • Homophones eg. there/their   see/sea   be/bee no/know
  • Split compound words into component parts eg. rainbow notebook playground
  • Discriminate syllables in multisyllabic words eg. September , sep-tem-ber
  • W special – w followed by ‘o’ sound often spelt a eg. want wallet wash
  •                  - w followed by ‘ur’ sound often spelt or eg. work worship worm
  • Mnemonics eg.would (o u lucky duck) people (people like omelettes, people like eggs) beautiful (big ears and ugly teeth I find utterly lovely)
  • The children will also be taught the Year 2 common exception words.

Reading (decoding)


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


In Reception, children will initially bring home books with no words.  This enables children to practise discussing the book with parents, without needing to decode words.


Children will then begin to bring home decodable readers (phonics books).  These books will be phonemes (sounds) that your child has already been taught and is secure in. 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.


Children will continue to read decodable books in Year 1 and Year 2.  Again these will contain sounds that your child has been taught in school. Once the children are secure in all the sounds taught in letters and sounds they are able to choose age appropriate books.



Individual reading (decoding)


Children working within phases 2-5b will read individually once a week to an adult in school.  Children who need extra support with decoding will have extra 1:1 reading sessions. This will ensure children are further supported in developing decoding skills.  It is vital that all children continue to practise their decodable books at home as this enables them to become fluent with these phonemes.  The children will be given the opportunity twice a week to change their books in school. All of the strategies above will ensure that children learn to decode speedily and fluently. 




We assess children all the time when reading 1:1. Children need to decode and read words at 95% accuracy in order to be secure with the phonemes they are reading. 


Children will be formally assessed in phonics and reading at least once each half term to see if they have progressed and need to move onto books which support a new phase (e.g. moving from phase 4 to phase 5 books). We use Phonics Tracker as our assessment tool.



Whole class reading


In Year 1 and 2 we also teach whole class reading sessions where we focus on comprehension and understand of a text. The books used for these sessions will often include words above their decodable level therefore often the teacher will model reading the text to them.

The children will be taught different reading skills including:

  • reading with expression and fluency.
  • express their ideas and opinions about as they read.
  • retrieving answers within the text, eg what was the girl’s  name? It says her name is Cinnamon
  • making inferences by digging deeper and using prior knowledge to answer questions, eg why was the girl sad? I think the girl is sad because she can’t talk and that would make me feel sad
  • identify new and challenging vocabulary in the text, explain what it means and how they know,  for example, frustrated.  It says the girl was frustrated that she could not talk.  I think this means she felt cross that she couldn’t talk.

Reading environment 


Link to English policy.


The impact of our early reading strategy will ensure that children learn to recognise phonemes speedily and use these to decode words fluently.  This fluency will ensure that children are able to master the decoding skill and become confident fluent readers.