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Reading and Phonics

Links to training videos and workshops

At St Paul's, high quality phonics is the prime means for how we teach children early reading, alongside our CUBE curriculum which is underpinned by quality texts, language and vocabulary. We teach direct, focused phonics every day in the Early Years and KS1, following the Red Rose Letters and Sounds systematic, synthetic phonics planning programme (Lancashire Professional Development Service), using the Letters and Sounds approach.

Leading the implementation of Red Rose Letters and Sounds


At St Paul's, phonics is taught daily to all children in Reception and Key Stage One. We follow the Red Rose Letters and Sounds systematic, synthetic phonics planning programme (Lancashire Professional Development Service) using the Letters and Sounds approach.



What is Phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. They are taught how to:

  • Recognise the sounds that individual letters make

  • Identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make-such as 'sh' or 'oo'

  • Blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word


Children can then use this knowledge to 'decode' new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.


The children are taught to read words by blending, which means pushing all the sounds together to make a word.  The children are taught to spell words by segmenting, which means sounding out words and writing down the sounds they can hear.


By the end of Reception children are expected to be secure in Phase 4. By the end of Year One children are expected to be secure in Phase 5. When finishing Key Stage One, most children should be secure in National Curriculum Year 2 Spelling expectations.


Why phonics?

Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way-starting with the easiest sounds and progressing to the most complex-it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7 years old. Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills that they need to tackle new words. Children can go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and read for enjoyment (Department for Education).

Phonics Phases 

The children are taught in groups organised by their Phonic phase.

They are assessed informally throughout the year to ensure they are secure in their phase before moving on.


Phase 1

Supports the importance of speaking and listening and develops children’s discrimination of sounds, including letter sounds.


Phase 2

The children learn to pronounce the sounds themselves in response to letters, before blending them. This leads to them being able to read simple words and captions.

Letters: s, a, t, p, i, n, m, d, g, o, c, k, ck, e, u, r, h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss

Tricky Words: the, to, I, no, go, into


Phase 3

Completes the teaching of the alphabet and moves on to sounds represented by more than one letter. The children will learn letter names and how to read and spell some tricky words.

Letters: j, v, w, x, y, z, zz, qu, ch, sh, th, ng, ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er

Tricky Words: he, she, we, me, be, was, my, you, they, her, all, are


Phase 4

The children learn to read and spell words containing adjacent consonants. However, Phase 4 adjacent consonants are including within Phase 2 and 3 words for reading and writing.  

Tricky Words: said, so, have, like, some, come, were, there, little, one, do, when, out, what


Phase 5

The children broaden their knowledge of sounds for use in reading and spelling. They will begin to build word-specific knowledge of the spellings of words.

Sounds: /ee/ ea e e-e y ie ey /oo/ o ue u-e ew ui /ai/ ay a-e eigh ey /igh/ ie y i-e i /oa/ o ow o-e oe /ow/ ou ough /oi/ oy /ar/ a /or/ au aw a our augh ough /oo/ ou u /ur/ or ir er ear /ear/ eer ere /air/ ere ear are /w/ wh /f/ ph /n/ kn gn /r/ wr /s/ soft c /ch/ tch /sh/ ti, ch, s, soft c /m/ mb /j/ dge /zh/ (e.g. treasure)



Here are some links to information and websites that you may find useful to help you support your child in their early reading and writing skills.

At the end of Year One all the children in the country take an assessment called a Phonics Screening Check.  They have to read 40 words (mixture of real and psuedo words).  We call the psuedo words ‘alien words’ and the children practise reading them every day. More information can be found on the Year One Class Page. 

All of our pupils will have equal access to phonics lessons and resources available. Throughout the school, phonics is a priority for all of our children. All efforts are made to support children with their learning, focusing on specific gaps in learning. Pupils with Special Educational Needs are identified and work within their individual level. If needed, they will have an individual action plan and work with support under the direction of the class teacher and SENCO. A range of techniques are used to support these children 1:1 or small group sessions.


Throughout EYFS and Key Stage 1, reading books are matched to the children's phonic knowledge, while they are learning to read. We use a variety of reading schemes that are colour coded to support children’s reading development, ensuring that each stage provides an appropriate level of progression and challenge within the text. 


The reading schemes used in the Early Years, Key Stage 1 and beyond are: 

  • Phonics Bug from Pearson 
  • Reading Stars from Ransom


The children have access to texts in all curriculum areas that are engaging and age-appropriate. When the children become fluent readers, they independently select texts that are of interest to them.


Guided Reading takes place in all year groups on a daily basis. Children take part in a carousel of activities that involves pre-reading, reading with an adult and completing follow-up activities based on the Reading objectives for their year group. Children develop their understanding of a text through effective adult questioning and opportunities to independently respond to the text.


Below is an image of our reading toolkits that are used when supporting children with their independent, guided or shared reading. The toolkits consist of;

  • 2 x Microphones (one real, one laminated)
  • 1 x Magnifying glass
  • 5 x Reading sticks
  • 3 x Reading lights
  • 2 x Silly glasses
  • 1 x Question fan
  • 1 x Note pad
  • 1 x Pen
  • 2 x Whiteboards
  • 2 x Whiteboard pens  
  • 2 x Finger Pointers 
  • 1 x Heart 
  • 1 x Cloud
  • 1 x Question 
  • Different coloured reading overlays, relating to the need of the children in each specific year group.

In Key Stage 2, children who require further support have phonics sessions as an intervention delivered by well-trained teaching assistants and are tracked by the class teacher and reading leads. Phonics assessments are regularly undertaken to make sure individual gaps are targeted. As in Key Stage 1, children who need further support will have access to the Fast Track or Bounce Back programmes (LPDS) in small group interventions, that take place to target specific needs and provide children with the skills they need to read independently

Reading Toolkits

In addition to fostering a love of reading in our pupils, we strive to ensure that by the end of Key Stage 1 our pupils are able to accurately and fluently read age-appropriate books and demonstrate an understanding of what they have read. They can answer questions, make some inferences and explain what has happened so far in what they have read.


At the end of Key Stage 2, we aim to ensure that our pupils leave St Paul’s with a broad range of reading skills that allow them to demonstrate active reading strategies when reading a variety of texts. Developing strong, fluent and ambitious readers ensures children are ready for the next stage of their reading journey, whether this is at a primary or secondary school level. 


As a school we pride ourselves on reading for our own pleasure, reading with our peers and reading with our families. 

Fluency Progression

Poetry Showcase of Spoken Language

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Children from Year 2 to 6

Phonics Games

Still image for this video


We use handwriting mnemonics to help children remember graphemes. Cursive handwriting is introduced from Year 1. Children are very proud to progress from pencil to pen once they have a fluent joined handwriting in Key Stage One and Two.

Start children off on the way they should go and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
- Proverbs 22:6