Warden Hill Primary School Cheltenham


Our phonics journey starts in Reception.
The scheme we use in school is Letters and Sounds: Principles and Practice of High Quality Phonics.

In order to bring this scheme to life, we enhance it with a variety of other resources. These include: Teach your Monster to Read, Phonics Play, our own rhymes for the sounds and many more. We also do an interactive parents’ session to support our parents in helping their children at home with their phonics, as well as uploading videos of the correct pronunciation onto our website.

The phonics teaching is split into ‘phases’ as detailed below:

Phase Phonic Knowledge and Skills
Phase One
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
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
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 and Y1)
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 and re-visited if necessary in Year 2)
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.

In conjunction with the teaching of phonics we also give our children phonics based activities to take home at the appropriate level and phase. This helps consolidate what has been learnt in school and is a very personalised approach to match the individual need. From this point there are a number of other processes that happen to support early reading.

Phonics Assessment

Our phonics assessment is ongoing from when they start with single sounds (how many they know) and then this builds to blending and then digraph and trigraph. This is carried out individually.

Collins Big Cat Phonics

We have invested a lot of money over the last few years in developing the reading provision in our school and our most recent investment has been in purchasing a fully decodable reading scheme which will follow the groups of phonemes being taught to the children. We know that if children practice reading decodable books at the right level (at 90% fluency) they experience reading success from the outset. The books are underpinned by rigorous phonics progression to build our pupils’ reading confidence.

The Big Cat Phonics books encourage the children to talk, develop a rich vocabulary and build a strong foundation for learning to read.

We want all children to be successful readers that enjoy reading at Warden Hill Primary School. The books that we send home ensure our children’s fluency and comprehension develops accordingly. Children have their books changed twice a week (every Monday and Thursday). This is because we want children to read their book three times to help them develop all of their reading skills:

  • The first read will focus on their decoding skills to read phonically regular words and recognising common exception words.
  • The second read focuses on their understanding of what the text is about. B
  • By the third read the child will feel like an expert and enjoy sharing the story with fluency and explore using expression.

Words essentially empower us. Words = Knowledge = Success and this is what we want for our children – success with their reading that allows them to explore the other curriculum areas with confidence and grows their knowledge and love of learning.

In KS2 our class libraries are all book banded and therefore this supports children in their own personal selection allowing them to develop ownership of their book choices, whilst still finding success and enjoyment in reading.

We also have a selection of books that supports our SEN pupils with high interest low reading age. We have a very good selection of books from Barrington Stoke. These books are expertly edited to ensure unnecessary words don’t hinder comprehension while the text will still challenge the reader, lots of illustration to break up the text and keep the story moving and short, sharp, unpatronising content matched to the age of the reader not their reading level. As well as this we also supplement the class libraries with challenging books from a range of authors.

Assessment of Reading

In Year 1 and up we assess the children using the benchmark system. Benchmarking is an essential resource to accurately track and assess pupils’ reading progress across the whole school, ensuring consistent and accurate book band levelling in reading