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At Chalkhill, children in Early Years and Key Stage 1 follow the synthetic approach to phonics, using the Letters and Sounds programme. Letters and Sounds is a resource for teaching phonics which was published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. Its aim is to develop children’s speaking and listening skills as well as to prepare them for learning to read and write by building their phonic knowledge and skills. It is a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children from the age of four, with the intention of them becoming fluent readers and writers by the age of seven.

The programme is made up to six phases. Each phase builds upon previous learning. In phonics sessions teachers review prior learning, teach new skills, allow children to practise these skills and then apply them. Children are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky words’. These are words which children cannot use their knowledge of phonics to decode e.g. their, the, was.

Phonic Knowledge and Skills Taught in each Phase


Phonic Knowledge and Skills

Phase One(Nursery/Reception)

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.

Phase Two(Reception) up to 6 weeks

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.

Phase Three(Reception) up to 12 weeks

The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.

Phase Four(Reception) 4 to 6 weeks

No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.

Phase Five(Throughout Year 1)

Now we move on to the "complex code". Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.

Phase Six(Throughout Year 2 and beyond)

Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.

Phonic lessons are taught daily through Early Years to Year 2. The sessions are led by the teacher or teaching assistant, depending on the needs of the class. It may be necessary for some children to have Letters and Sounds intervention groups if they are new arrivals to the country or the school. These children are identified quickly and gaps in the learning are addressed in phonics sessions.

At Chalkhill we understand that not all children are able to learn to read through synthetic phonics programmes and so all children are taught alternative strategies. These include:

  • Sight words
  • Picture cues
  • Using context
  • Predicting
  • Reading for meaning

These strategies are explicitly taught in guided reading, shared reading and one-to-one reading sessions.

The children at Chalkhill Primary School have access to a range of reading schemes, these include: Oxford Reading Tree, Project X, Comics for Phonics, Rigby Star, PM books, Literacy World and E-books from Bug Club. Bug Club is an on-line electronic library which children can access from home. Teachers allocate books to their class which match their reading ability.  They are able to answer questions and play games which are designed to improve children’s reading skills.

We want our children to develop a passion for reading. We do this through a combination of approaches.

  • Using ‘Talk For Writing’ approaches to enable oral and written story telling
  • Encouraging book talk
  • Introducing writers as role models
  • Sharing books together as a whole class or in groups
  • Locating reading in the wider curriculum
  • Guided reading in groups with teachers and TAs
  • Individual reading
  • Home readers
  • Reading Journals (Chambers’ Tell Me Responses)
  • Having a ‘reading corner’ in each classroom
  • Promoting the use of the school library, which is at the heart of the school, amongst children, parents, teachers and the wider school community
  • Having an outdoor book box for the FS outside area and during lunchtime play
  • Supporting parents and encourage them to read to and with their children at home
  • All adults in school modelling positive attitudes to reading
  • Developing children’s library skills
  • Class and parent trips to the library
  • Book Clubs during lunch times
  • Children can buy discounted books from the school Book Shop.

How can you help your child become a reader for life?

  • Read to them
  • Listen to them read
  • Tell them stories in your home language
  • Take them to your local library
  • Give them quiet time to read at home
  • Turn the television off and talk about what they are reading
  • Ask them questions