Phonics 2023 - 2024

Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language. Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of individual letters and how those letters sound when they’re combined will help children decode words as they read. Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing words. We use the Phonics Bug programme to deliver a highly successful, rigorous reading programme which is carefully matched to the curriculum.


At St. Stephen’s we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. Our fundamental aim is to teach every child to read as quickly as possible, and be enthused about reading. We strive to teach children to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension, as well as develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information. These essential skills not only unlock doors to the rest of the curriculum, but also have a huge impact on children’s self-esteem and future life experiences.

As a school, our aims in teaching phonics are to:

  • Deliver high-quality phonic teaching which secures the crucial skills of word recognition that, once mastered, enable children to read fluently and automatically enable them to concentrate on the meaning of the text.
  • Establish consistent practice, progression and continuity in the teaching and learning of phonics and spelling throughout the school.
  • Differentiate phonics and spelling work according to the needs of children, so that all children are given sufficient challenge at a level at which they can experience success.
  • Give children word work strategies that will enable them to become fluent readers and confident writers.

Beginner readers should be taught:

  • Grapheme–phoneme correspondences in a clearly defined sequence.
  • To apply the highly important skills of blending (synthesising) phonemes in the order in which they occur, all through a word to read it.
  • To apply the skills of segmenting words into their constituent phonemes to spell.
  • That blending and segmenting are reversible processes.

High-quality Phonics Bug sessions will:

  • Engage children in a range of activities and experiences to develop their speaking and listening skills and phonological awareness.
  • Enable children to explore a variety of fiction and non-fiction books that are 100% decodable books.
  • Support children in their reading, spelling and writing skills.

Programme of Teaching Expectations

We have developed a Scheme of Work for Phonics, detailing an overview of each year group and the expectation of what is to be taught each half term.

Nursery – Children access Phase One teaching through short guided groups daily in the setting. All staff working in the setting must provide verbal segmenting and blending skills regularly and have a secure knowledge of the scheme. Phase One phonics can be enhanced throughout activities within the continuous provision and displayed in the learning environment.

The following year groups (Reception - Year 2) must teach Phonics Bug daily for a minimum of 20 minutes. Children are taught in whole class sessions to ensure children are taught age-related phonics. Additional phonic intervention is given for children who need daily through discrete intervention from the teacher to support their needs.

Reception – We aim for all children to have completed phase 4 by the end of Reception.

Year One – We aim for all children to have completed phase 5 by the end of Year One.

Year Two – We aim for all children to be working securely within phase 6 by the end of Year Two. For those children who are working beyond phase 6, we introduce No Nonsense Spelling.

Year Three – Teach Phonics Bug daily for up to a minimum of at least 70% of the cohort have not completed the Phonics Bug programme. If only a small proportion have not completed the required level, then daily interventions should be in place for those children. We aim for all children to complete cohort based No Nonsense Spellings.

Key stage two– There are a variety of interventions for Key Stage Two children to support reading. Rapid Phonics, Reading Partners and Words First interventions will be carried out around three times a week.


At St. Stephen’s we are dedicated to enabling our children to become enthused, engaged and successful lifelong readers. To achieve this, we implement structured daily phonic lessons where phonetic knowledge is developed. We use the Phonics Bug programme to deliver a highly successful, rigorous reading programme which is carefully matched to the curriculum.

All staff who deliver the Phonics Bug programme have been trained which has given them the skills, knowledge and confidence to plan, deliver and assess phonics to a high standard. Staff are very clear on progress expectations and which sounds children are expected to know by each half term. Reading leaders, teachers and teaching assistants use their professional judgement on a daily basis to assess the children in their group, and identify any gaps in children’s phonetic knowledge. Throughout Early Years and KS1, children are assessed formally each half term by their class teacher and next steps are identified which means that children’s individual needs for phonics are being met. Daily observations and formative assessments of children’s phonic knowledge, coupled with a robust assessment approach each half term, ensures children are given the correct book which is carefully matched to their phonic understanding, and the acquisition of sounds which have been taught. Equally, this means children are issued with the correct home reading book for them to enjoy at home, thus allowing them to experience early reading success, gain confidence and consolidate the learning that takes places in school.

Reading in EYFS

In EYFS, we promote early reading in children as soon as they arrive with us in Nursery or in Reception, as we believe this underpins their natural curiosity of storytelling and enjoyment of stories. Within every area of provision in the reception classroom, children are exposed to a wealth of rich reading opportunities. Within our indoor and outdoor environment, we also embed sound recognition and provide ample opportunities for the children to apply their learning within their play, both independently and adult led. We endeavour to create rich learning experiences which reflect the children’s interests and fascinations, therefore our planned activities are carefully crafted to match their needs. In Reception, we begin to teach individual phonemes during daily phonic sessions, as well as how to segment and blend sounds in words to read them.

In conjunction with our daily phonics sessions, we distinguish between environmental, instrumental and body sounds during our letters and sounds sessions and within our continuous provision. In addition, we develop an awareness of rhyme, alliteration and oral sound blending through engaging children in various daily activities. In Nursery and Reception, we instil a love of reading with various stories that can be shared with the children. Like KS1 and KS2, every term, Reception focus on a high-quality texts and we provide opportunities for the children to sequence, re-tell and use role play to develop their imagination and own ideas of storytelling.

Parental Engagement

We recognise the importance of parental engagement and children reading at home with their families, therefore during the first term of Nursery and Reception, all parents are invited to attend ‘Phonics meeting’ whereby they are given an overview of the expectations of reading in St. Stephen’s Primary School. This includes an insight into what a daily lesson looks like, how physical phonics can be implemented at home, and what our home reading books entail.

Each child in EYFS and KS1 has an online Phonics Bug account that can be accessed online in school or at home. Children each have their own log in and are selected books by their class teacher to match the reading ability.

On our school website, we have recorded the pronunciation of graphemes for parents to watch to support reading at home. These can be found on the links below;

Click here to listen to the correct pronunciation of graphemes.


At St. Stephen’s our consistent approach to the teaching of our systematic phonics curriculum enables children to become confident, fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers, which in turn, unlocks doors to the rest of the curriculum allowing children to flourish in all areas.

Ongoing formative assessment takes place within each phonics lesson. This includes, teacher observations, questioning and discussions. These outcomes are fed forward into timely teacher intervention and subsequent planning to ensure gaps in phonological knowledge are closed and progress is not limited. Children’s progress is continually reviewed to allow for support and intervention in phonics to meet their needs. Children are regularly moved on to the next phonic book and phase unit when their fluency and understanding show that they are ready. Children move through the phonic books and phase units until they reach the required standard to become an independent reader, choosing a book to read from our well-stocked school library.

The national Phonics Screening Check is performed in June of Year 1. The purpose of the screening check is to confirm that all children have learned phonic decoding to an age-appropriate standard. The children who did not meet the required standard for the check in year 1 enter again in year 2 with additional support.

As children enter KS2, provision is made for those children still requiring daily phonics and reading interventions.

Equality and Diversity

At St. Stephen’s we are committed to promoting a positive and diverse phonics curriculum. The books that are used to support our reading cover a diverse background with a variety of disabilities, cultures, religions, beliefs, ethnicities and social background. We aim to provide children with current texts to ensure that children are able to relate themselves in the books they select to read. 

Access and Inclusion

All EYFS and KS1 children have access to the Phonics curriculum. Children with Special Educational Needs and/or EAL are supported by staff to ensure that they have the necessary resources to learn their next steps in language and communication, reading and writing. Within phonics, a variety of resources including writing materials, laptops, ipads and enlarged texts, overlays and use of coloured paper are used to support learning.  

Deepening Spirituality

At St Stephen's we use a variety of visual aids to explore the awe and wonder in the world and the vocabulary used throughouut the Phonics Bug scheme. Challenging children to reflect gives them the opportunity to have an understanding of a range of vocabulary. 


Within phonics sessions, opportunities for assessment will be  evidenced in the children’s phonics books. At the end of each phase of Phonics Bug children will be assessed on their progress using an online phonics tracker and organised into groups accordingly. re assessed every half term by the class teacher using the online phonic assessment appropriate to their ability. Children will be shown a set of words on the online Phonics Tracker and use their blending and segmenting skills to read. The number of correct answers for blending and segmenting will be combined and converted into a percentage. This will state whether the child is entering, developing or secure in a particular phase.

Reading at Home

Home Reading Books

Children will be sent home with reading books which have been carefully matched to the phonics phase your child is on to help them practice phonemes learnt in class.

Phonics Bug Active Learn

Each child in school has access to an online account for Phonics Bug Active Learn. Each child has a personalised homepage where they'll find the eBooks they've been allocated by the teacher and motivating rewards. The online reading world ensures children can access independent reading resources anywhere at any time.

Your child's class teacher will give your child a log in at the beginning of the academic year. You can log in on the following link - Phonics Bug Active Learn

Careers in English

Love reading and English? There are lots of career choices for our budding readers and writers. Check them out here... Careers in English 

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