South Wilford Endowed C of E Primary School

Spark the flame, light up the world.


What is Phonics?

Phonics is a way of helping young children learn to read and write by teaching them the sounds that the letters of the alphabet make (not the letter names), and how these sounds can be blended and segmented to read and write words.


Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured, systematic way, it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment.


Phonics lessons involve teaching children to:

  • link a sound (phoneme) to each written letter shape (grapheme)
  • know the sounds that two letters together (digraphs) make, such as /sh/ or /oo/
  • blend these sounds (phonemes) together from left to right to read words “c-a-t … cat”
  • segment the sounds (phonemes) in a word and then write each corresponding letter shape (grapheme) to spell words “cat … c-a-t”


Unfortunately, not all words in the English language are decodable (phonetic), and so some words have to be learned by sight, for example ‘the’ and ‘was’. We call these ‘tricky words’ and teach them in a particular order.


How is Phonics taught at our School?

At South Wilford we teach phonics using the Rocket Phonics systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) programme.  Phonics is taught daily from the very start of Reception for 20 – 30 minutes a day.  Our SSP programme is taught with fidelity and consistency from Reception to year 2.  Children are taught two phonemes a week which allows children to master and embed the phonic knowledge along with time to practise and apply blending and segmenting skills.  Our sequence and progression is taught in line with the Rocket Phonics progression.


Reading Books


We use Rocket Phonics fully decodable reading books which enable children to practise their phonics skills, particularly the skill of blending. These books follow the exact teaching sequence that is used in school which enables us to ensure that children only read books containing phonemes that they have been taught and know.  Children are encouraged to re-read their reading books numerous times to build up their fluency.  Phonetically decodable books are used until orange band.








We use actions and songs to support learning.

Click below for a copy of the phonics actions we teach in school

Click below for a video of the Jolly Phonics actions we teach in school

Phoneme Mats


Phoneme mats with a picture which matches the action are used to support learning. Children refer to these mats during phonics lessons and also at other times when reading and writing.






Phonics interventions

Teachers and teaching assistants deliver daily phonics interventions to support children to “keep up, not catch up.”  These interventions clearly address gaps in children’s knowledge. Interventions might take place in a small group or on a 1 to 1 basis. We do not use resources from other schemes for children who have fallen behind as this would be confusing for children. During interventions children work on strategies to support oral blending, knowledge of GPCs and practise of applying phonemes in reading and writing words. Our rigorous approach to ensuring that all children keep up ensures all children make good progress in phonics.


How should I pronounce the letter sounds?

In school we teach the children to use ‘pure sounds’, this means only making the actual sound the letter says, without adding an ‘uh’ on to the end. E.g. Say ‘ssss’, not ‘suh’, ‘ffff’ not ‘fuh’. This makes it much easier for them to blend and segment phonemes when reading and writing words.

Watch the video below to see how to pronounce the 'pure sound' for every letter and digraph

What is the Phonics Screening Check?

The phonics screening check is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonics knowledge at the end of Year 1. It helps us confirm whether your child has made the expected progress, or if they may need additional support in Year 2. It is carried out in a friendly school setting with a familiar teacher.



What are ‘non/pseudo-words’?

The Phonics screening check contains a mix of real words and ‘non-words’ or ‘pseudo-words’ (or ‘nonsense/alien words’). Children are familiar with pseudo-words because we use them every day in our Phonics lessons. They are important to include in the screening check because words such as ‘vap’ or ‘jound’ are new to all children. Children cannot read the non-words by using their memory or vocabulary; they have to use their decoding skills. This is a fair way to assess their ability to decode.


After the check

We will let you know how your child got on with the screening check at the end of Year 1. If they found it difficult, we will talk to you about what we can do in school and at home to help support them in their next steps. Children who do not reach the expected level in Year 1 will retake the Phonics screening check in Year 2. All children are individuals and develop at different rates. The screening check ensures that teachers understand which children need extra help with phonic decoding.


Previous Phonics Screening Checks

Below are some previous checks that you can download and practise with your child:

How can I support my child with their Phonics at home?

The most important thing we can say is that Phonics does not replace the importance of sharing enjoyable stories on a regular basis with your child. Phonics helps children to read and write decodable words, but it does not teach them the skills of comprehension, inference, prediction, summarising, questioning, reflecting, vocabulary, fluency, expression and the most valuable of all – Reading for Pleasure!


However, we do find that the children who have support at home with Phonics generally make faster progress with their reading and writing, and are more confident in class. Below are some websites that you may find useful at home with games, videos, information, print outs and e-books. Most of these websites also have equivalent Apps to use on tablets.

South Wilford Primary School EYFS Phonics Information Session for Parents

For those parents who were unable to attend our phonics information session on Wednesday 15th September, here is a recorded video of the presentation. We hop...

Useful Websites

Phonics help: top 10 tips | Oxford Owl

Get top tips for developing phonics skills at home, advice on decoding and blending words, and how to make the phonics sounds correctly from phonics expert a...






The phoneme /a/ - Mr Thorne Does Phonics

Get more activities, more resources and of course, more Geraldine, from Mr T's Phonics - here: We make le...


Top tips for Early Reading at Home



We encourage children to use the following decoding strategies as they read.