Warden Hill Primary School Cheltenham

THE TEACHING OF PHONICS

Our children’s phonics journey starts in Reception.
Phonics provides vital foundations to become a fluent reader.

We have adapted the DFE’s ‘Letters and Sounds: Principles and Practice of High Quality Phonics’ by supplementing it with our own progressive planning which is fully resourced and unique to our school. As a result, our Systematic, Synthetic Phonics Program (SSP) is high quality and robust in its purpose. With a clear structured route it allows all our pupils in meeting or exceeding the expected standard.

We ensure that our parents are fully involved in their children’s journey of learning phonics. We organise and deliver an interactive parents’ session to support in helping our children at home with their phonics, as well as uploading videos of the correct pronunciation onto our website. We are extremely lucky with the support from volunteers in our school. We rely on this help and support to give our learners extra opportunities for reading within a school day. We invite all our volunteers in to train, in the Warden Hill way, to ensure the very best for our children.

In addition to our Phonics program which is taught daily in EYFS and KS1, our reading scheme has been devised to support the program fully. All of our reading books are fully decodable, meaning that when children are reading their books either at home or in school, the sounds that they meet, will have already been taught within their phonics session, giving each child every chance of success in their reading.

The phonics progression map below details how the program is split into phases (Phase 1-6), along with when the different phonemes, (and their corresponding graphemes), tricky words and common exception words are taught in their phase and year group.

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.

Phonics Assessment

Our phonics assessment is ongoing from when they start with the recognition of phonemes and graphemes (how many they know) and then this builds to blending VC/CVC words and then the recognition of digraphs, trigraphs, common exception and tricky words. This is carried out individually.


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 for pleasure 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.
  • 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 l book banded up to Ruby and then the children move onto Barrington Stoke 4u2read (normally in Y3) and then onto further Barrington Stoke books and additional class library books. All the books are housed in the class libraries, therefore this supporting 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, un-patronising 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.