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Whitchurch CE Infant & Nursery School


Teaching of Reading and Phonics


At Whitchurch CE Infant & Nursery School, early reading is taught using synthetic phonics as the main approach.  Children are systematically taught phonemes (sounds), using a multi-sensory approach. There are daily phonic sessions where the children are encouraged to blend the sounds for reading and segment the sounds for writing.  The school uses the principles and phases of the DfES ‘Letters and Sounds’ publication but also uses some of the ‘Jolly Phonics’ resources to deliver this.  Additionally, children are gradually taught the high frequency ‘tricky’ words – those which are phonetically irregular.  We teach and reinforce phonics through our guided reading sessions and modelled reading in whole class sessions.   By combining these elements, children have the tools and skills to be able to read and write independently at an early age and are given lots of opportunities to apply their phonic skills throughout a rich and varied curriculum.


There are six overlapping phases through which the children progress.  The children start Phase One in the Nursery and aim to be generally secure at Phase Six by the end of Year Two. Phonics is assessed regularly to monitor progress towards the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check in June.


The table below is an overview of the Letters and Sounds phases.



Phonic Knowledge and Skills    

Phase One

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.


Phase Two

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.



Phase Three

The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the “simple code”, i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.

Phase Four

No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.

Phase Five
(Throughout  Year 1)

Now we move on to the “complex code”. Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.


Phase Six
 (Throughout Year 2 and beyond)

Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping


What is segmenting and blending?


Segmenting consists of breaking words down into separate phonemes for example m-u-g. Segmenting supports children to spell unknown words. This in turn enables them to develop as a writer.  Blending consists of building words from their separate phonemes for example mug. Blending supports children when they have to read unknown words.


Reading Schemes


We use a range of reading schemes which include Pearson’s Bug Club, Rigby Star, Oxford Reading Tree, Project X with an expectation for children to be ‘free reading’ when their reading skills are competent enough for them to do so.



Useful websites


You can find some free online games at:

There is also advice about how we pronounce the sounds of letters at:

Home-School Agreement


Our relationship with you as parents and carers is as important to us as our relationship with your child. We firmly believe that confident learning is nurtured both at home and school and we will do as much as we can to help all families engage with their child’s learning. To that end we are open, welcoming and very willing to make time for discussion and support.


We do ask in return for you to play your part as much as you can and our sets out our joint responsibilities. Please take time to share the relevant bits with your child too.