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The Cambridge Primary School

The Cambridge

Primary School


The foundations for reading and writing at the Cambridge Primary School are taught daily in phonics lessons. Phonics is designed to help teach children to read and spell by teaching the skills of segmenting and blending, the alphabetic code and an understanding of how this is used in reading and spelling. Simply put, it is sounding out a word and blending the sounds back together to read the whole word. When writing, it is hearing the sounds in a word and writing them down to spell it correctly.

What is Letters and Sounds?

Letters and Sounds is a systematic synthetic phonics programme used at The Cambridge Primary School. It is enhanced with the actions, images and rhymes of the Jolly Phonics approach.

Letters and Sounds is structured in six phases:

Phase 1 (Nursery /Reception)

The aim of this phase is to foster children’s listening skills as preparation for learning to read with phonics.

Phase 2 – 4 (Reception / Year 1)

Phase 2 is when systematic, high quality phonic work begins.

During Phase 2 to 4, children learn:

* How to represent each of the 42 sounds by a letter or sequence of letters.

*How to blend sounds together for reading and how to segment (split) words for spelling.

*Letter names e.g. the alphabet. We introduce the letter sounds first as these are important when learning to read with phonics.

*How to read and spell some high frequency ‘tricky’ words containing sounds not yet learnt (e.g. they, my, her, you).

Phase 5 (Year 1/ Year 2)

Children learn new ways of representing the sounds and practise blending for reading and segmenting for spelling. They learn more ‘tricky’ words.

Phase 6 (Year 2)

During this phase, children become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers.

The Letters and Sounds Programme suggests an order for teaching the letters in Sets, and a fast pace of one Set per week. Our Phonic Reader books are organised into these Sets. We recognise that children’s personal experience of letters and the speed at which they learn varies enormously so the children progress through the programme at a pace that is suitable for them.

Spoken English uses about 42 sounds (phonemes). These phonemes are represented by letters (graphemes). The alphabet contains only 26 letters, but we use it to make all the graphemes that represent the phonemes of English. In other words, a sound can be represented by a letter (e.g. ‘s’) or a group of letters (e.g. ‘th’ or ‘igh’) Once children begin learning letters, they are used as quickly as possible in reading and spelling words. Children can then see the purpose of learning letters. For this reason, the first six letters taught are ‘s’, ‘a’, ‘t’, ‘p’, ‘i’, ‘n’. These can immediately be used to make a number of words such as ‘sat’, ‘pin’, ‘pat’, ‘tap’, ‘nap’.

See the Overview of Letters and Sounds for further guidance.

How can I help my child?

As a parent, your involvement in supporting your child’s learning will be a vital factor in determining their success in learning to read. You will receive a weekly Home Learning letter with two copies of the focus sounds and words for the week so you can play games such as matching pairs with your child. Magnetic letters are a fun multi-sensory way to learn letters and develop reading and spelling skills. Games such as I-Spy (using the letter sound) are also effective.  

Below, please find useful links to websites that support phonics learning.  (this is currently free but when subscriptions start again, there are some free games to access)

To help children remember the sounds, they are accompanied by an action, image and song. Guidance on these will be sent home with the sounds each week, so you can support your child to practise. The link below is to the songs used to teach the letter sounds.

How do I know if my child is saying the sounds correctly?

It is most important that children pronounce the sounds clearly. To help you support your child with this, the following links take you to film clips that demonstrates the correct way to say the letter sounds.

How is Phonics assessed?

Like every other subject, phonics is assessed continuously during phonics lessons and when your child reads. Assessment helps teachers to identify and plan for the children’s next steps to ensure they progress.

What is the Phonics Screening Check?

There is a National Phonics Screening Check in Year 1 (in June) where the children have to read 20 real words and 20 ‘alien’ words containing sounds from Phase Two to Five. This is conducted in a very child-friendly way by the class teachers. At the end of Year 1, you will be informed if your child has met the threshold score for the check. If they have not met the threshold, they will be given additional support in Year 2 to enable them to meet it.

For further guidance regarding phonics at The Cambridge Primary School, please see the Phonics and Early Reading Policy