Phonics – The Building Blocks of Reading

In order to enable our children to be confident and fluent readers, they will need to have a secure knowledge of phonics and apply this confidently to their reading. 

Therefore, synthetic phonics is taught daily using the ‘Song of Sounds’ programme from EYFS through Key Stage One. 
‘Song of Sounds’ is a progressive synthetic  phonics scheme, using a song with actions, as the backbone for children learning the sounds they need to know for reading and writing. 
The use of ‘Song of Sounds’ is complimented by numerous other activities, games, precision teaching groups and learning episodes to make sure that reading/phonic skills are at the heart of our early curriculum.

The ‘Song of Sound’ Programme starts with our youngest learners in Nursery, where upon children utilise the programme to expose them to listening skills, speech formation and early mark making to form the foundation of reading and writing. The children further this experience in ‘Rhyme Time’ and through our ‘Vocabulary Rich’ Learning Environment.

In Reception and Lower School, phonics is taught in a variety of ways which always include sounding out, decoding, segmenting and blending strategies.  We ensure that lessons are active and fun, including interactive resources, games and online games.  Children are given the opportunity to rehearse sounds verbally and record them on whiteboards and transfer this knowledge to their written work.

Phonic sessions build on previous learning and introduce new phonic skills and subject knowledge.
Sessions are planned to include opportunities for development of speaking and listening, reading and writing.

Throughout our school all children will have access to reading books that match the sounds they are being taught – we aim for every child to be exposed to books for pleasure and books that are carefully matched to enhance progressive learning in synthetic phonics. In addition all children have access to their Oxford Reading Buddy – A digital banded library that compliments our carefully Staged Books within school.

To learn more about our ‘Song of Sounds’ programme please follow this link: 

Additional support in Phonics is also provided through our Digital Learning Platforms: Reading Eggs, Nessy and our Speaking and Listening Intervention Programme Language Link. Thus ensuring all children have the exposure they need to progress in their reading.

The Phonics ‘Check’

In June, all children in Year 1 undertake a National Phonics Screening Check.  This check consists of 40 words (20 real words and 20 pseudo words) which all children will be asked to read. 

The focus of this check is to see if pupils can decode a range of words which they have not seen before.

We work hard to ensure all children are prepared for this ‘fun’ Screening Check – familiarising our children with decoding ‘Alien words’ (the pseudo words) and working on the High Frequency Words. 

You can find examples of the ‘Phonics Check’ here:

Children who do not achieve the required amount of words are then supported with further phonic teaching in Year 2 and will access our Digital Learning Platforms and Precision teaching Groups to make sure all our children ‘Catch up’, ‘Keep up’ and achieve a good reading level to unlock the magic of the rest of the curriculum.

How to Support Phonics at Home

  • Daily reading
  • Learning the High Frequency Words
  • Accessing the Digital Learning Opportunities set as Home Learning
  • Sharing reading with your child
  • Attend our Storytime Sessions & Workshops

After Phonics in Year One 

In Year 2, the children continue  daily phonic sessions (using ‘Song of Sounds’), they revisit and consolidate all previous learning before moving on to learning new phonemes (sounds) and learning core spelling patterns.

Children in Year 3, recap previous phonics learning, after which the focus turns to grammar and spelling, using the ‘No Nonsense Spelling and Grammar scheme’, looking at spelling patterns, their rules and exceptions to the rule.

All children are expected to use taught phonic and spelling patterns in their writing.

A variety of strategies to learn spellings are taught throughout Lower School to support children’s different learning styles.

Please see our information on ‘No-Nonsense’ and our Spelling Strategies.

At Waterfield, we know that when children learn to read at an early age, they have greater general knowledge, expand their vocabulary and become more fluent readers.  They also have improved attention spans and better concentration.