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What is Phonics?

Phonics is a method used to teach children how to read and write.  It involves matching letters to their sounds, segmenting words into sounds and blending the sounds together. Even though there are 26 letters in the alphabet, there are 44 sounds in the English language. These are made up by single letters or a group of two or three letters. We teach phonics in 6 phases.

Take a look at our parent presentation for more information about sounds and phases in phonics.

The Phonics Programme

At Wanstead Church School , we have chosen to use Bug Club Phonics, a comprehensive teaching programme and DFE approved systematic synthetic phonics scheme.

The Bug Club Phonics programme follows the teaching sequence of letters and sounds and lessons are structured in the same way each day with an introduction, revisit, teach, practise and apply element to every session, providing the children with consistent routines that they can become familiar with. 

Reading at home

 Alongside our phonics teaching, we use the Bug Club Phonics decodable reading books that have been written specifically to match the order in which grapheme-phoneme correspondences are introduced in class. These books are fully decodable, which means that every word in the book can be read using just the children’s developing phonics knowledge. For example, when the graphemes s, a, t, p, i, and n are taught at the beginning of phase 2, the children’s decodable books would contain words with only these sounds. Not only does this allow children to embed and secure their phonics knowledge, but it also allows them to experience success. This in turn builds their confidence, motivation and enthusiasm for reading. We also allow the children to take home a range of other books to promote their love of reading. 

Reading at home is vital to the children's academic success. Children learn about the importance of reading as they watch family members use reading and writing for everyday purposes. Reading for pleasure, sharing stories at home or using a recipe shows them that reading is a useful skill. Research shows the importance of reading on a daily basis in developing children’s use and understanding of vocabulary and reading at home will enable them to practise and solidify their skills learnt at school. Please see our parent booklet on reading at home for more information.

Teachers can also allocate phonics games linked to the classroom learning online, as well as books to read. Please see our parent information guide on how to use Bug Club for more information.




Phonics Parent Workshop

Phonics Progression

Phonics Terminology 

Digraph – two letters make one sound (e.g. sh, ch, ai, ea, ou, ow).

Trigraph – three letters make one sound (e.g. igh, ear, air, ure).

Split digraph – two letters make one sound but the letters have been split apart by another letter. (e.g. the a - e sound in cape)

Phoneme – a single unit of sound

Grapheme – a written letter, or group of letter that represent a sound.

Consonants – b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z

Blend – to put or merge the sounds together to make a word (e.g. the sounds d-o-g are blended to the word ‘dog’.)

Segment – to break down the word into its individual sounds to spell (e.g cat can be split into the sounds c-a-t.).

Sound buttons – ways of visually isolating different sounds in a word. We use a dot under letters where one letter makes one sound and a line understand digraphs or trigraphs.

Tricky words- words that cannot be sounded out easily.

Phonics: How to pronounce pure sounds | Oxford Owl

Our Intent 

At Wanstead Church School we recognise reading and writing  as key life skills, which underpin access to the rest of the curriculum. We intend for all children, regardless of their background or starting point, to become fluent and confident readers by the end of KS1. We strive for pupils to learn to read and write effectively and efficiently through the systematic teaching of synthetic phonics. Within our phonics teaching, we intend to create positive experiences of reading as soon as your child enters the school; leading to enthusiastic attitudes towards books and, ultimately, a love for reading. We aim to build upon children’s vocabulary and fluency in order to provide them with a wider range of opportunities in all of their learning.



Effective Phonics teaching and learning is essential for high attainment in reading and writing. Phonics is taught daily to children in Early Years and Key stage 1, and begins in Nursery.

  • Children are provided with high quality phonics lessons that match closely with their ability
  • Phonics is taught following letters and sounds, with a variety of supportive resources such as jolly phonics, and phonics play.
  • Children are streamlined into smaller groups to enable them to gain more support
  • Children’s progress in developing and applying their phonic knowledge is carefully assessed and monitored
  • Children are taught tricky words for each of the phonics phases from Year 1
  • Big Cat Collins reading books are used to support children’s learning
  • Across Reception and KS1, children take home books which are closely matched to the children’s knowledge of phonics – the books contain words that they can confidently decode, along with a book of their choosing that challenges and inspires them.
  • Children are supported in learning to read high frequency words in order to aid fluency when reading.

Extra support is provided to children in Year 2 who did not pass the phonics screening in Year 1. This support is made up of  small group phonics teaching alongside weekly interventions; where all progress is monitored closely. Interventions and supportive sessions are planned for children who go into KS2 having not passed their phonics screening test in order to ensure continued progress throughout the transition into KS2.