St SwithunWells Catholic Primary School

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Phonics and Reading

Phonics and Early Reading


We want children to love to read! We want them to choose books that they are interested in and find out which books they like. We will read them a range of high quality fiction and non-fiction books from the moment they start school. We encourage parents to continue to do this regularly at home as well to give children the best start in reading and a love of books.

When children start school, we will give them the code to help them unlock reading. The best way for children to learn to read is to use phonics. This is a systematic way of teaching the alphabetic code so that children can, very early on, start to blend individual sounds together to read simple books.

First, we teach them the most common way of spelling each sound (grapheme) in the English language. We teach them how to say the sounds clearly, so that they are pure sounds (phonemes). Then how to blend them together for reading and segment them (hear each individual sound) for spelling. E.g. Blending ‘cat’ – sound out c-a-t, then say the sounds close together to say cat. Segmenting – say ‘dog’ slowly to hear all the sounds d-o-g.

We also teach them the common words that do not follow the rules! They can then read a range of books using these sounds and we provide reading books that they can read using their decoding so that they practise every day. By the end of their first year at school, most children can read simple sentences using these graphemes. 

Later we teach them some of the rules of the English language. We teach them alternative ways to spell some of the graphemes, alternative ways to pronounce some of the phonemes and many other spelling rules. These help them to understand the reason behind some of the huge variety of our English words.


  • We have daily 20 minutes phonics lessons in year R and 1.
  • We teach actions to go with each phoneme to help hem pronounce them clearly.
  • We provide phonics interventions focusing on specific needs—including Year 2 children who need to retake phonics test.
  • We have a daily story time, in Year R, 1 and 2 including questioning to develop understanding and inference.
  • We provide phonics books matching taught phonemes used throughout year R and 1.
  • We use our ‘reading finger’ used to track the phonemes for blending
  • We have group or 1-1 reading to an adult at least once a week.
  • We give parents phonics resources to support reading at home.
  • We provide targeted additional 1-1 reading to an adult for children who need it.
  • We teach reading skills in English lessons.



Children love reading, they read for pleasure as well as for purpose. Most children pass the national phonics screening test, which gives them a great start to their reading journey.