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Phonics teaching and progression

Here at St. Andrew’s, we believe that phonics is the key to accessing learning in all subjects.  We therefore place high importance on the teaching and learning of phonics and reading.  Phonics is a life skill and we want children to know that they will use reading and writing in every aspect of their life.


Consequently, we ensure that phonics is taught to a high standard in all classrooms.  We use a scheme called Read Write Inc. which ensures that every child is given a strong, high quality, structured, daily lesson in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 as well as in Year 3 for those children that still need support. If children still require phonics further up the school we the use the Read Write Inc Fresh Start programme as this is more age appropriate.


In Year 1 children undertake a Phonics Screening Check, for which you will be given more information closer to the time. 

There are lots of videos here to support you as a parent to help your child. 


Phonics is taught in groups by either a class teacher, TA (teaching assistant) or a HLTA (higher-level teaching assistant).  Assessments are carried out regularly each half term by one of our phonics leaders to ensure your child is being taught at the correct level.  We provide home reading books (Book Bag books) matched to the phonics that has been taught that week.  We also send home an electronic version of their guided reading book used in lessons as well as an online quiz.

Children also visit our school library each week to choose a book to read for pleasure, which we feel is very important for them to build up a love of reading and can be enjoyed independently or with a grown up as appropriate.


Intent, Implementation, Impact


At St Andrew's the purpose of internal monitoring and evaluation activities (by reading leads) is to raise the overall quality of teaching and levels of pupil attainment. The quality of teaching and learning throughout the school is consistently monitored through book scrutiny, lesson observations, learning walks and pupil voice. In Phonics, children are assessed summatively each half term by the Reading Leader to ascertain groups although class teachers will assess formatively throughout the lessons also. This ensures that children are placed in groups appropriate for their learning so that every child succeeds. To guarantee that progress is made for all children in Phonics, all staff have been trained in Read Write Inc Phonics and the Reading Leaders are able to coach and implement training sessions to support them in their journey. All staff have access to where they can access videos to support their CPD. This ensures that children are fully supported by all staff and have access to a full phonics lesson daily.


We follow the Read Write Inc Progression Map across our school and know what to expect our children at St Andrew's to achieve in each year group in phonics and early reading.

Phonics in Nursery


In Nursery we give children opportunities to listen to stories, nursery rhymes, poems and songs.  The classrooms have a dedicated reading area and we visit the school library once a week. Every child has guided reading once a week with the class teacher where they will learn three new ‘Tier 2’ vocabulary words.  We learn to ‘tune in to sounds’ such as environmental sounds (birds singing, fire engine siren etc.)  and musical instruments. We explore body percussion (clapping, stamping, clicking fingers etc.) and voice sounds (high pitch, low pitch, squeaky pitch etc.) and rhythm and rhyme. 

After Easter the children begin to learn the set 1 sounds,  words that begin with that sounds and how to form the letter using the rhyme.  We do this by air writing.


We begin to ‘Fred Talk’ also known as is oral blending – c-a-t - cat.

Children move onto the full Read, Write Inc phonics programme in Reception and continue to progress through the groups until the middle of Year 2 where we aim for the to move onto our comprehension lessons. 




All sounds are called ‘speed sounds’ and are grouped into set 1, 2 and 3.


Set 1 sounds are taught in the following order:

m, a, s, d, t, i, n, p, g, o, c, k, u, b, f, e, l, h, r, j, v, y, w, z, x, sh, th, ch, qu, ng, nk.


Individual letter sounds (highlighted) are introduced in Nursery and embedded further up the school. In Reception, children move onto set 1 'special friends' (two letters that make one sound).


Set 2 sounds consist of 12 'special friends' made up of two or three letters which represent one sound.

ay, ee, igh, oo (spoon), oo (took), ar, or, air, ir, ou, oy


Set 3 sounds consist of 20 'special friends' made up of two, three, four and five letters which represent one sound

ea, oi, a_e, i_e, o_e, u_e, aw, are, ur, er, ow (brown), ai, oa, ew, ire, ear, ure, tion, tious/cious


There are also addition sounds required for phonics screening - e_e, ie, ue, au, kn, wh, ph


Nonsense words (Alien words)

As children build up their knowledge of sounds they are able to apply their decoding skills to any unfamiliar word, whether it be real or nonsense. During lessons each day children will practise their decoding skills by sounding out nonsense words. Children are unable to rely on existing knowledge of real words and instead have to use their letter-sound knowledge. This is an important part of the Phonics Screening Check that the children complete at the end of year 1.


Learning to blend and Ditty Books

As soon as children have been taught a few initial letter sounds they begin to learn to blend the sounds together to read real words in a World Time session as part of their phonics lesson. Each word time session involves oral blending of knows sounds before they are shown the words written down on green cards. Children practise Fred talking the words until they become able to read them on sight. Ditty lessons follow on from this where children who are becoming excellent at reading single words are introduced to reading short sentences. Once children are confident reading the short sentences they are challenged to use their developing phonic knowledge to write words.


Storybook Lessons

After ditty books, the next stage is storybooks. These books are closely matched to their developing phonic knowledge. The storybooks consist of story green words (decodable words linked to the book they are reading), red words (non-decodable) and speedy green words (read on sight for fluency). After children have practised these words individually they are prepared to see them in context in the story.


Comprehension activities and partner discussion on the book follow on from reading.




Children are taught in their groups by a teacher, Teaching Assistant or Higher Level Teaching Assistant four times a week and whole class phonics by the teacher once a week.