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Phonics and Reading

Phonics and Reading



At Hillborough Infant and Nursery School, we follow Letters and Sounds, a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills, with the aim of children becoming fluent readers by age seven. There are six overlapping phases. Children have daily phonics lessons, where they are taught in small groups according to which phase they are currently working at. They are assessed regularly so that they can move onto the next phase when they are ready. Alongside the Letters and Sounds Programme, we also have access to Bug Club interactive resources and reading books.


A summary of each Phonics phase:

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

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

Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.


Phonics Screening Check

A statutory phonics screening check is taken by every Year One child in June. Any Year Two children who did not pass the screening when they were in Year One will retake the check.

The phonics screening check is designed to give teachers and parents’ information on how their child is progressing in phonics. It will help to identify whether a child needs additional support at this stage so that they do not fall behind in this vital early reading skill.


Synthetic phonics is not the only reading strategy we use to help children learn to read. We give children regular opportunities to practise reading sight high frequency words and words that cannot be read by sounding out.

Children will take home a reading scheme book and a phonics book to read, more fluent readers will take home a free choice book. The scheme and phonics books are the ones that are most suitable for the individual child’s reading level.

We offer sessions for parents and carers who wish to know more about how reading is taught and what they can do to help their child learn to read.