Reading & Phonics

 St Mary’s Catholic Primary School 

Phonics Sequence of Learning 


At St Mary’s we use a systematic approach to the teaching of synthetic phonics to enable children to develop secure reading and spelling skills. It is proven that high quality phonics teaching is ‘the best route for children to become fluent and independent readers (through) securing phonics as the prime approach to decoding unfamiliar words’. A strong emphasis on high-quality teaching of phonics can substantially reduce the number of children at risk of falling below age-related expectations for reading.   The children are taught through a carefully planned programme of systematic synthetics teaching as outlined in Letters and sounds together with Jolly Phonic resources, including songs and actions which ensure a kinaesthetic approach that is inclusive for all learners.  This programme sets out clear expectations of pupils’ progress ion in phonics term by term.  An accompanying tracking document is updated half termly for each pupil and is used as a tool for informing all teaching of phonics including in whole class sessions, interventions and 1:1 reading. This document sets out the pace that we expect a typical child to progress through the phonics programme. This pace can be adapted/reduced for high attaining children, with those children who are not on track receiving interventions to enable them to catch up with their peers. At St Mary’s our half termly phonic assessments inform our planning, grouping and intervention schedule for the next half-term.  Our children enjoy whole-class phonics lessons that are taught daily and follows a four-part structure of Revisit and ReviewTeachPractiseApply.          

Key Strategies for ‘Phonics First’ approach, used throughout the steps and re-visited in Key Stage 2 Children are taught to use phonic fingers, sound mats, sound buttons and phoneme frames with developing independence. We use a multi-sensory approach to engage and stimulate the children in their learning and application of phonics. Across the school we have a rich and varied environment which children can access to support their phonic knowledge and application. The terminology we use with the children is consistent and modelled within the lesson. (Appendix 4) 

Reading: Children have opportunities to apply their phonic knowledge using phonetically-decodable books. The sequence of reading books shows a cumulative progression in phonics knowledge that closely matches the school’s phonics programme (Appendix 1 shows the full 6 phase programme). Children also read and share a wide range of narrative and non-fiction books both in school and at home so that they are exposed to a variety of quality texts through which they can develop a love of reading commensurate with the objectives set out in the National Curriculum for key stage one reading. Opportunities to share books with their teachers, their peers, adult volunteers and key stage 2 children are provided every week. 

High Frequency words: Many of the high-frequency words do not follow phonic rules (or use rules that are taught later in the progression. We call these tricky words or red words.  Children are encouraged to use their knowledge of synthetic phonics as much as possible to work out how to read unknown words aloud. The bits of a word that are ‘tricky’ and do not directly correspond to known grapheme- phoneme correspondence are identified and discussed as a teaching point. We call these ‘tricky’ words RED words in school (Appendix 2). Within this sequence, we have identified where we expect red ‘tricky’ words and decodable high frequency words to be taught. This includes the decodable high frequency word list from Letters and Sounds (which makes up the 100 high frequency word list), alongside the National Curriculum Common Exception Words (Appendix 3).  

Terminology: phonics teaching uses many terms which are explained in Appendix 4. 

St Mary’s Phonic Programme 

Our approach to teaching phonics 

The children are taught through a carefully planned programme of systematic synthetics teaching as outlined in Letters and sounds together with Jolly Phonic resources, including songs and actions which ensure a kinaesthetic approach that is inclusive for all learners.  The Jolly Phonic scheme is used to support the teaching of phase 2 and 3 (why just 2 and 3) phonemes. (See Appendix 1) 

This programme sets out clear expectations of pupils’ progression in phonics term by term. 

Skilled word Reading, involves pupils to acquire the skills of decoding as well as building up a bank of known sight vocabulary. 

The provision of appropriately sequenced books that practise what the children already know develops confidence and fluency through automatic word recognition and confident use of their decoding skills. 

The delivery of our phonics programme teaches pupils to see the relationship between Reading and Spelling.  Pupils develop secure oral blending and segmenting skills to help them blend to read and segment to spell as they progress through our phonic programme. 

The Phonics Programme and progression of skills 

During the delivery of Phase 2-5, Phase 1 will continue to be taught, with a particular focus on the identification of and oral blending and segmenting.  

Phase 6 coverage is taught within Year 1 English lessons alongside Phase 5 rather then waiting until the end of Year 1.  This ensures the outcomes of the Y1 curriculum in writing are met. For example: plurals -s –es, adjectives adding -er –est, verbs adding -ing –er, covering past tense endings –ed, prefix un-, compound words and use of suffixes.   Phase 6 is continued to be taught and reinforced in Year 2. 

Key words 

These include a combination of high frequency words, tricky words from letters and sounds and common exception words from the National Curriculum. 

Key words are taught in the following ways: 

Through daily phonic lessons 

Sound talking and practising blending key words e.g. can, had, big 

Identifying parts of the word that match the phonemes and which part is not phonetically plausible, ‘the tricky part’ 

Practising reading the word to develop automaticity of reading 

Tricky words are sent home to practice once they have been taught. 

In Reception weekly home link sheets inform parents of the letter sounds taught each week and children have a sound book sent home for them to complete to reinforce their learning. 

In Reception letter formation is taught through letter shape families and  when digraphs and trigraphs are taught they are joined to develop an awareness of several letters making one unit of sound. 

Phonics teaching in EYFS and Year 1 
Daily phonics sessions of 30 minutes.   

Each session will include:  Re-visit of previously learnt phonemes 

Teach  – an introduction to a new phoneme/grapheme;  – 

Practising how to use and apply their phonic knowledge through reading and writing  activities. 

Applying  their phonic knowledge through reading and writing activities. 

Home reading books are matched to each child’s phonetic stage so they can practise their phonic learning at home.  

All children will access a reading session at least once a week in school: These sessions will support children to develop fluency, automaticity and basic comprehension skills.   

When children are identified to be making slower progress with their progression of phonic skills than their peers, a combination of precision teaching is used alongside phonic interventions and daily 1-1 reading.

Year 2 (Revisit Phase 6 and lower phases through planned intervention)   
Children are now rapidly developing in their fluency and start to use word recognition alongside their phonics to support automaticity.    

In Phase Six, children use their knowledge of grapheme-phoneme correspondences to become increasingly accurate spellers. 

Additional small group targeted support is provided for children who didn’t pass their Year One phonics screening check.  

Year 3  
Phonic tracking documents form an important part of the transition meeting between Year 2 and 3 teachers. Pupils have explicit spelling sessions which enable them to re-visit and review their phonetical knowledge.   Those children who didn’t pass the phonics screening test will continue to access appropriate resources and additional small group targeted intervention.  

  This page was updated 16th June 2022