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Phonics at The Pines 

“At one magical moment in your early childhood, the page of a book – that string of confused, alien ciphers – shivered into meaning.  Words spoke to you, gave up their secrets; at that moment, whole universes opened.  You became, irrevocably, a reader.”

Alberto Manguel

Vision and Intent

At the Pines, our vision for phonics is that our youngest children will discover a love of both reading and writing and will be equipped with the skills to become successful readers and writers. 


At The Pines, we aim to:

  • Equip children with the phonic skills required to become fluent, competent readers who have a genuine love of reading.
  • Equip children with the phonic skills required to become successful writers, able to express themselves effectively using print (including the ability to spell at an age appropriate level).
  • Ensure that every child achieves their BEST through fun, pacey and carefully planned phonic sessions, meeting the needs of all learners.
  • Ensure that every teacher and teaching assistant loves teaching phonics and is secure in their subject knowledge.
  • Have a culture where phonic knowledge is embedded into all aspects of the curriculum.

Our Place in Our World: Phonics equips children with the skills to read texts from around the world, opening their eyes to places beyond those they are familiar with. It also enables them to spell accurately and communicate effectively with the wider world.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind: Phonics equips children with the skills to read and write enabling them to access reading and resources to support physical and mental health.  

Learning Skills: In phonics learning across the curriculum, children learn to persevere, make mistakes and learn from them and try spelling new words.

Oracy: In phonics lessons, children learn to articulate clearly and pronounce sounds accurately, giving them some of the key skills to become confident communicators. 


Phonics is taught daily in the early years, key stage one and first term of year 3.  As a school, we have formulated our own synthetic programme which is built around the government produced document ‘Letters and Sounds’, ‘Jolly Phonics’ and the expectations of spelling as set out in the National Curriculum.

When teaching children to link sounds to letters, we use Jolly Phonic images and actions.  By using this multi-sensory approach, children are actively engaged, they have fun and they are supported to make good progress in their phonics learning right from the start. 

When teaching phonics, we use technical, subject specific language;


Phoneme - the sound a letter/s make

Grapheme - the way a sound is represented in writing

Digraph - 2 letters that make one sound e.g. sh in shop

Trigraph - 3 letters that make one sound e.g. ear in beard

Split Digraph - where 2 letters make one sound, but a letter is in between them e.g. a-e in cake

Blend - the skill putting sounds together to say a word e.g. c/u/p is cup

Segment - the skill of separating a word into it's separate sounds e.g. pot is p/o/t


Letters and Sounds is split into 6 Phases which are taught from Nursery to Year 2.  The usual progression for children is as follows;


Phase 1 - nursery

Phase 2 - reception

Phase 3 - reception

Phase 4 - reception

Phase 5 - year 1

Phase 6 - year 2


We have ensured that within each phase of teaching, the expectations for spelling (as set out in the National Curriculum) are taught.  This is because Letters and Sounds alone does not provide a complete coverage of the spelling expectations for each year group.  For further, more detailed information, please refer to our Phonics Policy at the end of this page.


Some children may be working at a phase outside of their year group, depending on their needs and next steps for learning.


The phonics learning of each individual child is assessed termly using the school phonics assessment record. This is built on each year, giving a clear, up-to-date picture of what a child knows and applies and also what gaps need filling. Staff work with children to fill these gaps as they occur, in order to enable children to make rapid progress in their reading and spelling. 


Overview of Phases

In Reception, KS1 and some LKS2 classes children have independent access to sound mats and, over time, become skilled at using these to support their spelling choices. These mats show children the graphemes which can be used to represent a given phoneme, using the Jolly Phonics pictures to support this. They also support children in making 'best guesses' for spelling. 

Some useful links to support phonics learning at home:

Phonics: How to pronounce pure sounds | Oxford Owl

Learn how to pronounce all 44 phonics sounds, or phonemes, used in the English language with these helpful examples from Suzy Ditchburn and her daughter.Find...


Phonics teaching at The Pines is excellent, as demonstrated by the increase over time of children passing the phonics screening. This enables them to be successful as they move into the KS2 spelling programme and to access a wide and varied curriculum. 

  • Teachers love teaching phonics because they have the autonomy to personalise each phonics session, making it fun and engaging for the children in their class. 
  • Children learn to love reading and writing through fun but challenging phonics sessions.
  • A whole school multisensory approach to teaching phonics ensures that all learners are engaged and make progress.
  • From Nursery, children use, understand and build on the technical language used in the teaching of phonics.
  • A consistent teaching approach ensures children quickly transition between year groups and there is a sense of ‘fluidity’ each academic year.
  • Teachers and support staff have strong subject knowledge, delivering effective, fast paced phonics sessions.
  • Home learning consolidates phonics teaching in school.
  • Regular phonics assessments ensure that every child makes at least good progress.  Those falling behind are identified quickly and given catch up sessions in small groups/1:1.
  • Children will be confident in their phonic knowledge, and confidently apply these skills beyond phonics sessions.  This is because teachers and support staff continually embed phonic skills into the wider curriculum.
  • The % of pupils passing the phonics screening test will be at least in line with national and increasing year on year.
  • Children that don’t pass the Phonics Screening check in Year 1 are supported through small group/1-1 catch up sessions to ensure that they are given the best chance of passing in Year 2.
  • Children at The Pines show strength in spelling because they have been taught the full expectations of the National Curriculum.
  • The vast majority of children leave The Pines equipped with secure reading and writing skills ready for secondary education.  Those that don’t make at least good progress from their starting point when they joined The Pines.
  • The % of pupils with secure spelling knowledge at year 6 will increase due to the excellent foundations in phonics that they will have built.
  • The phonics lead will monitor the teaching and learning of phonics and provide support and feedback, resulting in consistently good or outstanding phonics teaching across the school.

If you have any comments or questions linked to your child's phonics learning, please feel free to get in touch with myself, Mrs Taylor (Phonics Lead).