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St Andrew's C.E. Primary School

Enriching Lives


What is Phonics?


At St. Andrew’s, we believe that Phonics is the process that is used to help children blend, segment and decode words to read and spell. It is having the ability to:


  • Understand the alphabetic code
  • Recognise phonemes that each individual letter makes
  • Identify phonemes that different combinations of letters make
  • Understand that the same grapheme can make different phonemes and  that different graphemes can make the same phoneme.
  • Manipulate phonemes to read and spell new words.


Through the eyes of our children, Phonics is important because:


‘It helps us to understand how to improve our reading and spelling.’



Early Learning Goals


Literacy comprehension:

Demonstrate understanding of what has been read to them by retelling stories and narratives using their own words and recently introduced vocabulary.

Anticipate (where appropriate) key events in stories.

Use and understand recently introduced vocabulary during discussions about stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems and during role play.


Literacy word reading:

Say a sound for each letter in the alphabet and at least 10 digraphs.

Read words consistent with their phonic knowledge by sound-blending.

Read aloud simple sentences and books that are consistent with their phonic knowledge, including some common exception words.


Literacy writing:

Write recognisable letters, most of which are correctly formed.

Spell words by identifying sounds in them and representing the sounds with a letter or letters.

Write simple phrases and sentences that can be read by others.

National Curriculum


Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why phonics should be emphasised in the early teaching of reading.


Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words.


Curriculum Intent


At St. Andrew’s Church of England Primary School, we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We believe that Phonics provides the foundations of learning to make the development into fluent reading and writing easier. As Phonics is the process that is used to help children break down words into sounds, as well as building letter and word recognition, it can then enable children to use unknown words in the future.


The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:


  • Read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language.



The teaching and implementation of the Phonics progression at St. Andrew’s C.E. Primary School is based on the Early Learning Goals and National Curriculum; it is supported by Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS), ensuring a well-structured approach.


The aim of ELS is ‘Getting all children to read well, quickly’. It teaches children to read by identifying the phonemes (the smallest unit of sound) and graphemes (the written version of the sound) within words and using these to read words.

Children begin learning Phonics at the very beginning of Reception and it is explicitly taught every day during a dedicated slot on the timetable. Children are given the knowledge and the skills to then apply this independently.

Throughout the day, children will use their growing Phonics knowledge to support them in other areas of the curriculum and will have many opportunities to practise their reading. This includes reading 1:1 with a member of staff, with a partner during paired reading and as a class. 

Children continue daily Phonics lessons in Year 1 and further through the school to ensure all children become confident, fluent readers.

We follow the ELS progression and sequence. This allows our children to practise their existing phonic knowledge whilst building their understanding of the ‘code’ of our language GPCs (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence). As a result, our children can tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover. 

Children experience the joy of books and language whilst rapidly acquiring the skills they need to become fluent independent readers and writers. ELS teaches relevant, useful and ambitious vocabulary to support each child’s journey to becoming fluent and independent readers.

We begin by teaching the single letter sounds before moving to diagraphs ‘sh’ (two letters spelling one sound), trigraphs ‘igh’ (three letters spelling one sound) and quadgraphs ‘eigh’ (four letters spelling one sound).

We teach children to:

• Decode (read) by identifying each sound within a word and blending them together to read fluently

• Encode (write) by segmenting each sound to write words accurately.

The structure of ELS lessons allows children to know what is coming next, what they need to do, and how to achieve success. This makes it easier for children to learn the GPCs we are teaching (the alphabetic code) and how to apply this when reading.

ELS is designed on the principle that children should ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’. Since interventions are delivered within the lesson by the teacher, any child who is struggling with the new knowledge can be immediately targeted with appropriate support. Where further support is required, 1:1 interventions are used where needed. These interventions are short, specific and effective.


At St. Andrew’s, we are dedicated to the teaching and delivery of a high-quality Phonics and Spelling curriculum through well planned and resourced projects and experiences. We have determined that Phonics and Spelling will taught in discrete phases across the school year. During Phonics and Spelling phases our children draw upon subject knowledge and skills within Reading and Writing. Through the evaluation of prior knowledge and understanding they can continue to manipulate phonemes in order to be competent and successful readers and spellers.



Through the explicit teaching of Phonics and Spelling skills, teachers and the children assess their learning continuously throughout the lesson. At the end of each term, teachers complete phonics trackers, assessing attainment against the Essential Letters and Sounds, EYFS  and NC requirements to make informed judgements about the depth of their learning and the progress children have made over time.   


Supporting Phonics and Reading At Home


Children will only read books that are entirely decodable, this means that they should be able to read these books as they already know the code contained within the book.

We only use pure sounds when decoding words (no ‘uh’ after the sound)

We want children to practise reading their book 4 times across the week working on these skills:

               Decode – sounding out and blending to read the word.

               Fluency – reading words with less obvious decoding.

               Expression – using intonation and expression to bring the text to life!

We must use pure sounds when we are pronouncing the sounds and supporting children in reading words. If we mispronounce these sounds, we will make reading harder for our children. Please watch the videos below for how to accurately pronounce these sounds.

At the beginning of each academic year, we will hold an information session for parents and carers to find out more about what we do for Phonics, Reading and English at our schools. Please do join us.

More support for parents and carers can be found here:  

Phonics Progression - September 2022

Phase Two pronunciation

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Phase 3 pronunciation

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Phase 5 pronunciation

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