How we teach Phonics

“ Evidence shows phonics teaching is most effective when taught as part of a language-rich curriculum… Phonic decoding is the skill which underpins successful reading, but we recognise that it is not an end in itself, and that schools should be teaching other aspects of reading…We do not underestimate the importance of teaching wider reading skills.” (DFE 2011) 


Phonics is one of many reading strategies used at St Winifred’s. Other main strategies include:

  • Visual (whole word recognition)
  • Contextual (use of picture and background knowledge)
  • Grammatical (words which make sense)


At St Winifred’s we aim to

  • Establish consistent practice, continuity and progression in the teaching and learning of phonics and spelling throughout the school
  • Differentiate phonics and spelling work according to the needs of pupils, so that all pupils are given sufficient challenge
  • Give children word work strategies that will enable them to become fluent readers and confident writers

Teaching, Delivery and Organisation

The teaching of phonics in our Nursery is based on phase 1 of the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme. The teaching of phonics throughout Rec, Year 1 & Year 2 follows the structure of the ‘Letters and Sounds’  phonics programme

Phonics is taught on a daily basis at a brisk pace for approximately 15-20 minutes.  Lessons are planned in the sequence outlined in appendix B. Sounds taught should be ‘pure’ (ie M = ’mmm’, not ‘mh’) as this is central to phonic teaching and ability to correctly hear and say sounds in words.  Multi-sensory activities will be included in the teaching of phonics so that various learning styles can be encompassed. Working walls and displays should support current learning and activities should be available for children to explore independently both in the classroom and outside areas.

The use of any other additional resources e.g. ICT programmes, should be agreed and used by all teachers across a year group for consistency in teaching and learning.

Principles of good teaching and learning in phonics will be shared with parents through workshops and literature.  Home support and practice is acknowledged as being extremely valuable and is highly encouraged.

Below are some phonics based websites and links

Expectations of Support Staff

The role of additional adults during the whole class teaching of phonics is immensely useful.

They can:

  • Join in and keep the pace up
  • Model responses
  • Run the activity side by side with the teacher (e.g. in rhyme generation, two adults writing words are quicker than one)
  • Ask a searching question if they think some children haven’t quite understood
  • Note which children appear secure in their knowledge and which are not
  • Support an individual child
  • Take notes of individuals, or observe a teaching strategy to prepare for a similar session with a smaller group who need additional help

Where appropriate support staff may work with an individual or small group of children separate to the whole class phonics lesson.


On entry to Reception, children are assessed as to their phonic knowledge, and re-assessed at regular intervals after that.  Throughout the school teachers use on-going formative assessment, which feeds in to the planning process, and allows teachers to adapt the programme accordingly.

At the end of Year 1 there is a statutory assessment – Assessment and reporting arrangements, Year 1 phonics screening check (Standards and Testing Agency 2012) which takes place in June of each year. Assessments are based upon:

  • Grapheme-phoneme correspondences
  • Oral blending
  • Oral segmentation
  • Non-word reading

Children who have not reached the expected standard in the phonics screening check at the end of Year 1 will retake the check in the June of Year 2.  These children will receive additional targeted support to achieve this.  This could be through in-class support or as part of the school’s targeted provision.  A range of resources to cater for specific children’s needs are available from the Inclusion Team.