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Early Reading and Phonics


“If a child memorizes ten words, the child can read only ten words. But if a child learns the sounds of ten letters, the child will be able to read 350 three sound words, 4320 four sound words and 21650 five sound words.” Dr. Martin Kozloff


We all know that reading is a key skill essential for all aspects of everyday life. It unlocks learning and the world of work. At Ryhope Junior School, reading is at the heart of our curriculum. Our intent is to ensure every single child learns to read as quickly as possible. We want all children to develop a love of reading. At our school, we have adopted Bug Club as our systematic, synthetic phonics (SSP) validated programme.


At Ryhope Junior School, we are dedicated to ensuring:


• That every pupil will learn to read, regardless of their background, needs or abilities. All pupils, including the weakest readers, will make sufficient progress to meet or exceed age-related expectations.

• Stories, poems, rhymes and non-fiction are chosen for reading to develop pupils’ vocabulary, language comprehension and love of reading.

 • Children are secure in their phonological knowledge in order to read age-appropriate books fluently and confidently.

• The sequence of reading books shows a cumulative progression in phonics knowledge that is matched closely to our phonics programme. Teachers give pupils sufficient practice in reading and re-reading books that match the grapheme-phoneme correspondences they know, both at school and at home

• The teaching of systematic, synthetic phonics, is taught to those children who require additional support in order to keep up with their peers

• Pupils’ phonics progress is regularly assessed and monitored in order to identify any pupil who is falling behind the programme’s pace. If they do fall behind, targeted support is given immediately

• the school has developed sufficient expertise in the teaching of phonics and reading.



What is phonics?


Phonics is a method of teaching people to read and write. It is done by demonstrating the link between the sounds of the spoken language, and the letters or group of letters which make these sounds. For example, the sound k can be made using c, k, ch or ck.


Teaching children to blend the sounds of letters together helps them decode unfamiliar or unknown words by sounding them out.


For example, when a child is taught the sounds for the letters t, p, a and s, they can start to build up the words: “tap”, “taps”, “pat”, “pats” and “sat”.


Phonics is divided into six phases.


There are no sounds taught in phase 1. Phase 1 is about children ‘learning to listen’. This is how children develop their phonological awareness.


Phase 2 introduces the 23 most common sound units in the English

language, moving onto less common/ more complex GPCs in Phase 3.


Phase 4 encourages children to begin to blend two or more consonant clusters so they can begin to read more complex words such as frog and clump.


Phase 5 introduces children to alternative ways to make known sounds, for example an ‘f’ sound can also be made by ‘ff’ or ‘ph’.


From phase 2, children will practice breaking up (segmenting) and putting together (blending) sounds in order to read words. The more children practise this, the more fluent they become in their reading.


Phase 6 moves children onto looking at spelling patterns involving word endings (suffixes) and words that sound the same but have different meanings (homophones).


Over the course of their phonics education, children will also be introduced to common words that they should be able to recognise on sight (high frequency words) and words that they cannot use phonics to sound out (decode). These are called ‘tricky words’.


There are 44 sounds (phonemes) of the English language and they are taught one at a time. They are taught in a specific order so that children can start reading words as soon as possible.


The 44 sounds are usually taught in this order:

s a t p i n

m d g o c k

ck e u r

h b f ff l ll ss

j v w x y z zz qu

ch sh th ng

ai ee igh/ie oa oo (short) oo (long) ar or ur/er ow/ou oi

air ear ure


Alternative spellings of these sounds are taught once all 44 sounds have been learned. For example, the ‘ea’ spelling of the long ‘e’ sound is taught once children have learned /ee/.


Phonics Catch-Up in Key Stage 2

On entry to Key Stage 2, those children who still require phonics to ‘keep-up’ will be assessed and will receive daily sessions from a fully trained staff member. As we know, every child learns at different rates, therefore, this could be in a mixed age-range group. These children will be monitored closely and assessed regularly by their teacher and Early Reading Lead.


Children in Key Stage 2 will also be given logins to access Bug Club, meaning they can access phonetically decodable books which directly correlate with their learning in school. Parents will be informed that their child is receiving phonics and advice on how to further support their child at home can be found below.


Supporting your Child at Home

Reading frequently with your child is an invaluable way of supporting them with their reading. The way in which this is done can be varied. You may wish to listen to your child read or you may read to them. Both techniques are useful as it allows your child to both read aloud and hear what good reading sounds like.


Your child will be given a book which directly correlates with what they have been learning in phonics. This means that their book will contain only the sounds and tricky words that they are familiar with. Some words may appear which they need adult support with. These often provide good discussion opportunities i.e. explaining the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary.


Discussing the meaning of unfamiliar words when reading will also develop your child’s understanding of vocabulary.


When listening to your child read, it is helpful for children to sound out a word. This means breaking it down into its individual sounds. They can then blend them back into one.


 Support may also take the form of games. Any support should be in an enjoyable, relaxed atmosphere. Word games are a fun and exciting way of practising what they have learned. You could collect objects from around the home which have the newly learned sound.


If you would like more suggestions and ideas, speak to your child’s class teacher. They will also be able to give you an idea of which sounds have been covered.