St Mary's Catholic Primary School

Live, Love, Believe

Phonics and Early reading

What is Phonics?


Phonics is generally accepted as the most effective way to teach children to read and  write and is the building block for all children to become successful readers!


We teach the children to hear and recognise sounds in words and spell them correctly through daily phonic lessons. We also support children with reading in all other areas of the curriculum too. This is vital as we want all of our children to become confident with words and love books!


Children are taught the correspondence between phoemes (sounds)  and the graphemes (spelling patterns) that represent them.


Some Key words are needed to be understood to make sense of how phonics is delivered at St Marys:



Phonics (also known as ‘synthetic phonics’) – The teaching of reading by developing awareness of the sounds in words and the corresponding letters used to represent those sounds.

Sound – The sound that a letter or group of letters make.

Digraphs – Two letters which together represent one sound, e.g. ai, mb, ea

Trigraph – Three letters which together represent one sound, e.g. igh, ear

Quadgraph – Four letters which together represent one sound, e.g. eigh, ough

Split Diagraph – Two letters, which work as a pair to represent one sound, but are separated within the word, e.g. a-e in cake; o-e in note

Blending – The process of using phonics for reading. Children identify and blend the individual sounds together to hear and say the whole word.

Segmenting – The process of using phonics for spelling and writing. Children listen to the whole word and break it down into the letter-sounds. E.g. ‘lunch’ can be segmented as l-u-n-ch.

Tricky word – These words have an unusual or tricky spelling, e.g. said, one, their. They are not spelt as they sound. These are also sometimes called High Frequency words.


At St Marys, we use the Bug Club Phonics scheme, which is a scheme that teaches phonics is a structure 'synthetic' way. This scheme has also been authorsied by the DfE. 


In their Bug Club Phonics lessons, children will learn to recognise, identify, say and read all of the 44 sounds of the English language along with writing and spelling them.  


Lots of engaging resources such as flashcards, sound mats, interactive screens and quizzes are used to support our children to learn the skills needed to successfully read, write and spell. We have fully decodable reading books that are used within class and are sent home to share. 


In Reception and Key Stage 1, children take part in a discreet daily phonics lesson that lasts approximately 30 minutes. Our lessons follow the format Revisit, Teach, Practice and Apply.


The Phonics Screen 


In June, all Year 1 children complete a government phonics screening check. The aim is to check that a child is making progress in phonics. They are expected to read a mixture of real words and ‘nonsense’ or 'alien' words.  If a child has not reached the expected  standard, they are given additional support to help them make progress in Year 2. At St Marys we ensure children are ready for this screening by doing lots of practice! In order to support this, please make sure that you read as much as you can with your children, making sure you are supporting them to spot sounds, to belnd them and to be able to pronounce each sound clearly. 


The Reading Journey


To begin with, Early Years children are given a book that contains no words. These books are to develop the children’s spoken language and story telling skills. When the children can blend the sounds in words, they will be given a word book; this is so they will be able to see themselves as readers straight away.


All of our reading books are fully decodable, which means they will only contain phonemes (sounds) that your child has learnt. There is a careful progression to ensure your child has a book at exactly the right level for them. We expect that children wil read the book they are provided with at least three times. The first time to focus on decoding, the second time to become more fluent with their decoding and the third time for them to put these skills to gether to feel successful as readers! 


The bug club books also have guidance, phonic sounds that are included in the book and some 'checking' quesitons. Please make sure that you take the time before reading the book to go through this with your child. 


All children in EYFS/ KS1 also have access to the Bug club phonics online resources, where they can practice their phonics through fun, interactive games. Your class teacher will be able toprovide you with your child's log in details.