Reading lies at the heart of the curriculum at Barnehurst Federation school. We recognise reading as a key life skill, which underpins access to the rest of the curriculum. We empower all our children to take ownership of their learning, through exciting daily, systematic and consistent, high quality phonics teaching. This is tailored to the needs of individual children, no matter their background. Ensuring that every child, can access and develop skills, which will ultimately develop their confidence in early reading is our aim. We achieve equality of opportunity for all our children through the consistency of our approach.

Our approach to phonics ensures that our children are resilient and that they grow in confidence as they become fluent readers.    

Using our tailored phonics approach, our children learn to read fluently so that they can put all their energy into comprehending what they read.  We passionately believe that teaching children to read and write independently is one of the core purposes of a primary school, enabling them to access a broad and exciting, global curriculum and ensuring they flourish as learners throughout their time at our school. These fundamental skills not only hold the keys to the rest of the curriculum but also have a huge impact on children’s self-esteem and future life chances.




At Barnehurst we use systematic teaching of phonics to support children in learning to read and write.  As children progress in their phonic knowledge, they will move on from learning letters and the sounds they make, to using and applying their phonic knowledge to blending and segmenting words for reading and spelling. We give the children the opportunity to use and apply their phonic learning through multi-sensory games and activities so that they then use this in their independent reading and writing.

  • Have their progress tracked through effective assessment, to enable teachers to make informed decisions about planning for the next steps
  • Have a rich and varied environment which they can access to support their phonic knowledge and application
  • Have access to books that are phonetically decodable through Phases 1 to 5, alongside books that develop their sight vocabulary and support other strategies for reading

We have developed and mapped out the progression of phonics across Early Years and Key Stage 1 to ensure the effectiveness of the teaching and learning of phonics.  Resources and planning are stored on our central system, where all adults can access. Planning is consistent in layout, showing key words, sounds and other key focuses for each lesson. Live flip charts are used in all lessons. These follow a set structure, linking to our Revise, teach, practise, apply method. Children are therefore familiar with phonics lessons expectations because of the consistency between year groups.  Visual examples of the different phases/flip charts are available for staff to use as examples, ensuring that we continue to embed our consistency throughout each lesson, no matter who is delivering the lesson.

Below is a chart which shows the order in which sounds are taught throughout the phases, as well as approximate stage / age, which phases are taught within the different year groups. New and current members of staff are able to refer to this to ensure consistency and clarity.


Early Years and Key Stage 1

  • Daily phonics lessons, using RWI letter rhymes/formation rules and the Letters and Sounds programme.


Key Stage 2

  • Daily CUSP Literacy/Reading lessons, including activities specifically linked to writing
  • Where appropriate, depending on the need of the child, targeted interventions such as; I can read, Toe-by-Toe etc are carried out. This is driven mainly by using assessment data and weekly conversations between teachers and adults that are carrying out the interventions.
  • Reading intervention groups, where appropriate
  • Weekly spelling investigations with focus on specific spelling patterns

Children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read words. To allow our children to develop a strong phonic awareness and effective blending and decoding skills, we have chosen to use the Letters and Sounds programme.  Our teaching is a method of learning centred around letter sounds and phonics, blending sounds together to read and spell words and applying these skills across the curriculum. The children learn to read fluently so that they can put all their energy into comprehending what they read.  We passionately believe that teaching children to read and write independently is one of the core purposes of a primary school enabling them to access a broad and exciting curriculum and ensuring they flourish as learners throughout their time at our school. These fundamental skills not only hold the keys to the rest of the curriculum but also have a huge impact on children’s self-esteem and future life chances.


We aim for children to read words and simple sentences by the end of Reception, become successful, fluent readers by the end of Key Stage 1 and develop a lifelong love of reading as they move through school. The systematic teaching of synthetic phonics, using the Letters and Sounds Phonics programme, is given a high priority throughout Early Years and Key Stage 1. Children need to learn key phonic knowledge and develop skills in segmenting and blending to complete the phonics check at the end of Year 1 and as part of developing fluency in reading. We also value and encourage pupils to read for enjoyment and recognise that this starts with the foundations of acquiring letter sounds, segmenting and blending skills – enjoying success and gaining confidence from a positive experience.

By the end of Reception, the aim is for all children to have a secure understanding of Phases 2,3 and 4 in our Phonics programme and to be able to segment and blend words within these phases, in terms of reading and blending words with graphemes learnt from Phase 3, in order to start Phase 4 at the end of Spring term in Reception. Children are introduced to the ‘tricky words’ early in the Autumn term in Reception and aim to read and write the high frequency words for Phase 2 to 3 before they enter Year 1.

The aim in Year 1 is to ensure all children have completed Phase 4 and 5 and be ready to begin our CUSP spelling programme (Spelling rules) upon entry into Year 2. We aim for all children to read and write all the common exception words for Year 1.

*For children identified needing additional support in KS2, children are taught in differentiated groups.

Before learning phonics:

From Autumn 2 in Nursery, all children start to access phonics lessons 3 x a week. These lessons are built around Phase One of Letters and Sounds phonics programme.  Phase One of Letters and Sounds concentrates on developing children's speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for phonic work. Phase 1 is divided into seven aspects. Each aspect contains three strands: Tuning in to sounds, listening and remembering sounds and talking about sounds. These are the important foundations of early reading.

Aspect 1 - environmental sounds

Aspect 2 - instrumental sounds

Aspect 3 - body percussion

Aspect 4 - rhythm and rhyme

Aspect 5 - alliteration

Aspect 6 - voice sounds

Aspect 7 - oral blending and segmenting.

At the beginning of the Summer term, those Nursery children who are ready to start an introduction into Phase 2 phonics, will begin to do so. These lessons are informal and are planned to be as active as possible, aiming to encouraging the children to become familiar with the different letters, learning their letter formation rhymes and the sounds that they make in a fun and memorable way.

Oral & Assisted blending

Oral blending helps the children to identify and hear sounds in words and accelerates their ability to decode and spell. Teachers regularly give instructions using oral blending, this is done regularly throughout the day within classes.

Daily phonics lesson Implementation:

High expectations from all staff ensure all pupils at Barnehurst Federation are given the opportunity to achieve their maximum potential and attainment levels in reading. Pupils develop their language and reading skills through daily Phonics sessions. Pupils are taught in their own classes by their teacher for each phonic lesson and are split into groups according to their stage, if teachers decide this would be best.  Phonics lessons last approximately 30 mins, although in EYFS, these timings may be a slightly shorter. Lessons concentrate on the development of systematic, synthetic phonics and application in reading aloud. A new sound is taught daily for most groups, however further on in Phase 3, the lessons will focus on a reading and writing aspect of each sound, splitting the teaching of each sound over 2 days.

Below are examples of flip charts, modelling consistency and showing expectations for teachers to continue throughout the different phonic stages/year groups.





Pupils are continually assessed during phonic lessons and further support is given to all pupils where it is needed. Parents receive updates after phonics assessment with ideas of how to support their child further.  A sheet is given out to each pupil to take home. The sheet indicates the sounds which their child may not be confident with/doesn’t know. Links to support the practice of pure sounds/pronunciation at home is shared with parents.  Adults use this assessment as a guide to support closing pupils’ gaps.

We have created a Years overview of assessment, so that it is clear for everyone to see when children are assessed, what assessment is being used and next steps following the outcome of the assessment. This allows adults to plan according to the needs of their class and ensure that every child is making the most progress possible.




Rigorous tracking and monitoring of phonics progress, attainment and phonics teaching is a key focus to ensure all pupils are achieving their maximum potential.  The programme used to analyse the phonics data allows both teachers and support staff (who carry out interventions) to quickly determine which children need what support. The areas of support may be one of the follow types of interventions that are carried out: GPC (Grapheme, Phoneme Correspondence), Oral blending, blending to read, Segmenting to read. Children take part in small group or 1:1 interventions 3-4 times a week for 20 minutes each. These interventions are carried out by a Phonics Specialist TA. This adult uses and updates the children’s data throughout the term, so that anyone can view a child’s status and be able to pinpoint exactly which phonemes/ areas should be improved/worked on. These groups are fluid and will change according to needs.

Termly phonics assessment levels are collated, and progress is monitored and highlighted. Attainment levels are tracked, and teachers take part in a phonics pupil progress meeting alongside the phonics leader and reading leader.  During these meetings, pupils are highlighted according to their phonics attainment level. They are grouped into 5 areas.

They are:

    1. Pupils working above age related
    2. Pupils working at age related
    3. Quick catch-up pupils
    4. Pupils who require targeted support
    5. Pupils who require intensive support

Teachers identify the pupils’ barriers to learning/ next steps. In KS1 all children receive 1 phonics sessions a day and for those who need further support, an additional 3 extra sessions targeted specifically at their needs. Some Y2 children received a daily SATs booster session as well as 2 daily phonics sessions.  Termly Phonics screening checks are completed with Y1 pupils and with pupils in Y2/3/4 who have not passed the phonics screening check. This tracks progress of the pupil’s application of sounds.  Regular observations of lessons by the phonics leader monitor maximum progress of all children.



Year 1 Phonics Screening test:

At the end of Year One all the children in the country take a test called a Phonics Screening. They have to read 40 words some of which are real and others nonsense words. We call the nonsense words ‘Alien words’ and the children practice reading them. The check is not about passing or failing but checking appropriate progress is being made. If children do not reach the required standard, then the teacher will be in touch to discuss plans and offer additional, tailored support to ensure that your child can catch up. Children progress at different speeds so not reaching the threshold score does not necessarily mean there is a serious problem. Your child will re-sit the check the following summer term. For the last few years, the threshold mark (or pass standard) set by the government has been 32 correct answers out of 40.


How is it done?

It is done by familiar adults in the school such as classroom teachers. Children are in a quite environment and are tested one at a time. It usually takes 5 –10 minutes and if children need to stop and come back later that is perfectly fine. The school will report your child’s results to you by the end of the summer term as well as to the local authority, but the results won’t be published in a league table as with SATs. If you have any concerns, do talk to your teacher about this in a parents’ meeting or after school.

Reading does not stop at the end of our phonic sessions; a love of literature will be at the heart of all learning in our school. Books open up a whole host of learning opportunities and are the basis of our global curriculum, always linking closely to our class core text books.

Glossary/useful definitions:


  • A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in a word.
  • Feel/watch how your mouth changes when you say a word, every time your mouth moves/changes shape you are saying a new phoneme, e.g. b-r-i-ck
  • There are 44 phonemes in the English language


  • Graphemes represent how a phoneme is spelt. Each grapheme is a unit of sound regardless of how many letters there are. e.g. The word b-r-igh-t is made up of 4 phonemes; the igh phoneme is represented by 3 letters but only makes one phoneme.
  • A grapheme can represent more than one phoneme e.g. C = cat and city


  • Two letters, which makes 1 phoneme. e.g. duck
  • A consonant diagraph contains two consonants e.g. sh ck th ll
  • A vowel diagraph contains at least one vowel e.g. ai ee ar oy

Split Diagraph

  • A diagraph in which the two letters are not adjacent e.g. make a-e is a unit of sound (diagraph)- it is being ‘split’ by the constant k.


  • Three letters, which make 1 phoneme. e.g. light

Oral blending 

  • Hearing a series of spoken phonemes and merging them together to make a spoken word without corresponding to any graphemes (no text is needed). e.g. teacher says “b-u-s” children say “bus”

Blending (links to reading)

  • Recognising the letter sounds in a written word and merging them together in the order they are written to pronounce the word. e.g. c-u-p = cup

Segmenting (links to writing)

  • Identifying the individual phonemes in a spoken word and writing them down to form a word.


The following abbreviations are used to describe the order of letters in words:

VC                   Vowel–consonant: for example, the word ‘am’.

CVC                 Consonant–vowel–consonant: for example, the word ‘Sam’. (Consonants and vowels in these abbreviations can be digraphs and trigraphs too, for example the words ‘ring’ or ‘feet’.)

CCVC              Consonant–consonant–vowel–consonant: for example, the word ‘slam’. (Consonants and vowels in these abbreviations can be digraphs and trigraphs too, for example the word ‘bring’ or ‘fleet’.)






Year 1 reading phonics