Henry Cavendish Primary School

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Phonics and Early Reading

Phonics and Early Reading

At Henry Cavendish Primary School, we believe in developing a reading culture throughout the school. The school library hosts a variety of books and we raise the profile of reading through a print rich environment, attractive book displays and promoting the written word at all times.  Every week in Early Years Foundation Stage we hold a ‘Reading Café' for parents and carers to come and enjoy reading in class with their child.

In EYFS and Key Stage One the children are taught to read and write following the ‘Letters and Sounds’ curriculum. This programme teaches children to decode (break down) words into their smallest units of sound (phonemes) step by step.  In the Early Years, teachers use Jolly Phonics actions and songs for each sound to help them remember the letter shape, name and the sound it makes. This is particularly important for kinaesthetic learners; children who learn by ‘doing’.


To share our learning and give you some ideas for phonics activities at home, we hold termly ‘Phonics Stay and Play’ sessions, where you can come into class and see phonics in action!

We have a large selection of ‘book banded’ texts available in Key Stage 1. Children are matched to a colour band in accordance with their reading ability and are free to select a text to take home on a daily basis. This is assessed regularly to ensure children are reading within the correct colour band.

Children have regular guided reading sessions, where texts are explored with a particular focus i.e. use of vocabulary, structure of different text types, inference and prediction.


Parents are an integral part in the children’s reading journey. We encourage children to read at home on a daily basis and communication between school and home is recorded on ‘Reading Records’.


Phonics Phases

Our phonics curriculum takes children through six Phases, with children typically moving through Phases 1-4 during Reception, and then onto Phase 5 and 6 throughout Year 1 and 2.

With lots of repetition and weekly development of skills, we find that we are able to really build confidence and challenge children at an appropriate level.

Phase 1—The focus is on listening and making sounds with mouths and bodies—e.g. environmental sounds, rhyme, rhythm, alliteration and early letter recognition.

Phase 2—Each week, children learn single letters and their corresponding sounds in a useful order (e.g. SATPIN) so that they can begin to blend and segment short words.

Phase 3—Phase 3 introduces ‘friendly letters’ letters (where two letters make one sound, e.g. ai, oa, sh). Skills in blending and segmenting are further developed.
Phase 4—This phase is an opportunity to recap all Phase 2/3 sounds in a range of contexts. Children begin to read and write 2-syllable words and words where two sounds are close together  (e.g. s-l-i-p / p-l-ay / f-r-igh-t). 

Phase 5a-d—Phase 5 tackles the complexities of spelling in English and teaches children to explore alternative spellings and pronunciations for all sounds (e.g. all different spellings of /ay/).  They will learn how to apply a ‘best bet’ rule (e.g. /oi/ in the middle, /oy/ at the end) and will begin reading and talking about suffixes (see glossary, p.11).

Phase 6—Children begin to tackle grammatical rules for the spellings when writing tenses, adding suffixes and prefixes, contractions and strategies for spelling tricky words.
SPAGtacular!  At the end of Year 2, children are expected to meet a range of grammar, punctuation and spelling requirements.  In order to help prepare them, they will take part in weekly ‘SPAGtacular’ lessons designed to build up their understanding of grammatical concepts and their confidence in using punctuation, including apostrophes, correctly.


The children are taught in whole-class teaching sessions, and each session goes through a Revisit – Teach – Practise – Apply format so the children are able to consolidate their learning in a pacey, engaging style. Children are closely monitored to assess their learning and they are also assessed termly to check their progress, with teaching adjusted accordingly.

Phonics Screening Check (Year 1)

The Phonics Screening Check is a statutory reading Check which every child in Year 1 is required to take towards the end of the school year.  Please use the link below to find out more about what is involved in the Check. 

Please see the links below for some useful booklets on how you can help your child with phonics at home.