Phonics at Slaley First School
At Slaley First School, we follow the systematic scheme Sounds~Write to teach phonics in Reception to Year 4.
Phonics is a method of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language. We chose Sounds~Write because of its rigorous approach. It also adheres to DFE and OFSTED guidance that states:
“Schools should be determined that every pupil will learn to read, prioritising reading as a foundation for future learning, and enabling children to access the rest of the curriculum and avoid falling behind.
A sequential approach to the reading curriculum is expected; the sequence of reading books should demonstrate a cumulative progression in phonics knowledge, matched closely to your school’s phonics programme, followed by ongoing reading progress throughout KS2.”
Sounds-Write is a quality first phonics programme. Its purpose is to provide a scheme to teach reading, spelling and writing. We will introduce Sounds~Write in Reception and it will continue through to year 4.
The code (phonic sounds) will be taught throughout Reception and Key Stage 1. From Year 3 onwards, staff will continue to use elements of the Sounds~Write scheme to finely tune the spelling and reading of all children at Slaley First School. It provides fast and effective teaching for children at all levels.
The Sounds~Write programme teaches the children to understand the way the alphabet (referred to as ‘code’) works. Because of the complex system of the alphabet code in the English language, often, in the early stages of learning to read and spell, pupils will not be able to spell some sounds using the correct spellings. However, pupils taught using Sounds~Write are more likely to be able to write almost anything they want using plausible (phonetic) spellings for sounds. As they progress through Key Stage 1, pupils learn systematically how words are spelled in English. The ability to express oneself in writing from the start of school gives children enormous confidence, which naturally feeds back into the other kinds of learning taking place within the school curriculum.
Sounds~Write teaches children that:
- Letters are symbols (spellings) that represent sounds.
- Each sound may be represented (spelled) by a 1, 2, 3 or 4-letter spelling.
- The same sound can be spelled in more than one way (goat, slow, note, toe, over).
- Many spellings represent more than one sound (ea in read and bread).
The following skills are taught throughout the Sounds-Write program:
- Blending – the ability to push sounds together to build words (c-a-t = cat)
- Segmenting – the ability to pull apart the individual sounds in words (pig = p-i-g)
- Phoneme manipulation – the ability to insert sounds into words and delete sounds out of words, this skill is necessary to test out alternatives for spellings that represent more than one sound.
It is important to note that speed and accuracy need to be achieved for all three of the above skills, in order for them to become automatic.
There is a short 20-minute, online course that parents can complete that is aimed specifically at parents and carers and will further your understanding of the Sounds-Write program and teaching. You can find the course by going to:
Each week the children will be following systematic phonics teaching. In Reception they will be starting with the Initial Code. The children will take home books on average which are 2 units behind the unit that is currently being taught during phonics lessons.
In Y1 and in Y2 the children will continue following the systematic phonics teaching but will work through the Extended Code – looking at ‘same sounds different spelling’ and ‘same spelling different sounds’ this will be when the children learn how to read and spell words using a variety of different alphabet code.
Reading at Home
Children from Reception to Y2/3 will take home a variety of reading books to share at home including:
A phonic book matched to the phonic code that they have previously been taught. The book will be carefully chosen and, as a rule will be 2 levels lower than the phonics level currently being studied and will be a book that the children can read independently using their segmenting and blending skills. Repetition is often vital for developing confidence in reading. More confident readers will be assessed for comprehension using a ‘Readworks’ comprehension passage and will be able to choose a book within an identified lexile range.
Reading for pleasure choice
A book to share with an adult as either a shared reading experience or a bedtime story. Listening to someone else read is just as important in the children’s learning.
How Can Parents Support children at home?
Reading at home, every day, has the biggest impact on your child’s learning and progress. Please find below some suggestions that will support you with supporting your child.
- Use letter sounds rather than letter names with their children at home. This will avoid confusion for the children and will reinforce the learning being done at school.
- Avoid adding an extra vowel when pronouncing letter sounds eg ‘buh’ ‘duh’
- When listening to your child read encourage them to have-a-go at unfamiliar words by encouraging them to: “Say the sounds and read the word”.
- Visit the Sounds-Write website for further information, support and resources:
Learn more about how we teach phonics and how you can support your child at home using the online course by going to:
If you have any questions about reading or phonics, please don’t hesitate to contact us.