Westover Primary School




At Westover Primary School we give a high priority to the teaching of phonics and every day we will teach phonics as a separate session.  We adopt the synthetic phonics approach through the 'Letters and Sounds' programme. This just means that each unknown word is sounded out and then blended together in order to read the word.  The scheme teaches the sounds in an order which allows them to quickly begin to put sounds together to read words.  When we first teach the letter sounds to the children, we favour using the 'Jolly Phonics' approach, which involves a short song and action to help children remember sounds. Alongside the skills of blending (putting sounds together to read) and segmenting (breaking words down to spell them), the children are also taught common exception words that cannot be sounded out, such as 'was' or 'me'. We call these words 'Tricky Words' and they learn to read and to spell these from memory within each phase. This is supported by the use of phonically  decodable texts, such as Dandelion books, where children can apply their phonic learning.


EYFS – Reception


When your child enters Reception we aim to immerse them in a language rich culture full of stories, rhymes and letter sounds. They will start in Autumn Term by continuing work on Phase 1 in order to build upon the work which they will have carried out in nursery and pre-school. This phase concentrates on developing children's speaking and listening skills, with an emphasis on getting children attuned to the sounds around them and developing their oral blending and segmenting skills.

Alongside Phase 1, the children will to learn the letter sounds from Phase 2 in manageable groups. After October Half Term, the children will progress to Phase 3 where they learn the remaining letter sounds, consonant digraphs and vowel digraphs and trigraphs. Throughout phases 2 and 3, the children will gain confidence in blending to read and segmenting to spell. In the Summer Term the children will progress Phase 4. The main aim of Phase 4 is to consolidate the children's knowledge and to help them learn to read and spell words which have adjacent consonants, such as trap, string and milk. By the end of Year R, we aim for all children to be working securely in Phase 3 and the majority working within Phase 4. 


How can I support my child during their Reception Year?


  • At the start of Reception, your child will be given a Letters and Sounds booklet. Each time that they learn a new phoneme, digraph or trigraph, your child will add a page to the booklet so that they can practise with you at home.
  • Your child will be given with Phase 2 and 3 Tricky Words to take home. To support your child learning the tricky words use the cards sent home from school to play games such as snap or speed read.
  • Your child will be given ‘High Frequency’ words to take home. These words are phonically decodable and can be sounded out: for example: ‘sit’ can be sounded out and blended back together by saying s-i-t  sit. To support your child learning to read words encourage them to add the ‘sound buttons’ to the words and to carefully sound them out. Say the sounds closer and closer together until you form the word. When writing words, encourage your child to sound the word out writing each letter as they say the sound.
  • Hear your child read their phonically decodable book 5 times a week and record in their home school reading records. These books will progressively increase in terms of the amount of phonics knowledge the children will need in order to read them.


Year 1

The children in Year 1 continue with daily phonics practise, following the Letters and Sounds programme. Year 1 staff prepare and rapidly move children into Phase 5 where they begin to learn the alternative spellings for the sounds they know and begin to look at common spelling patterns- spelling plurals and suffixes –ed endings and –ing endings.  The National Phonics Screen is taken by all children in year 1 during a specified week in June.  Any children who did not take the test or did not pass the test in Year 1 will retake it again in Year 2.


How can I support my child during Year 1?

  • Listen to your child read 5 times a week and record this in their home reading record. Continue to read to your child regularly to build upon their love of reading and introduce them to new vocabulary.
  • In Year 1, most children will be confidently blending and segmenting words. They will be sent home with reading books which reflect the sounds that they have learnt. The more they can practise reading these words at home the more confident they will become in recognising the different ways we can make the sounds.
  • If they are struggling with sounding out a word, ask them to use their sound buttons or to see if there are any special friends in a word e.g. in bath the digraph ‘th’ is a special friend. They join together to form a digraph and make the sound ‘th’.
  • When writing encourage your child to sound out and to think about which sounds they might need to use. Play games which involve finding things which contain that sound.


Year 2

The children in Year 2 continue to follow the Letters and Sounds programme and the main focus is on supporting children’s spelling strategies. Children will be taught the many different rules for spelling plurals, and adding prefixes and suffixes to words.

Reading and early phonics are instrumental and work closely together to ensure our children develop secure reading skills.  We ensure our books our fully decodable and are given to the children at the correct phase of phonics they are working at.  Alongside this skill they are taught how use the text to answer comprehension questions.  

How can I support my child during Year 2?

  • Most children will now be confident with each of the different phonemes and graphemes and the alternative ways they can be written and pronounced. They will now be sent home with books which contain a wide variety of sounds, suffixes and compound words.
  • When reading these books with your child, encourage them to sound out unknown words using the skills they have learnt in previous years e.g. sound it out, look for any digraphs or trigraph (any sounds that go together). Encourage them to split up longer words making the parts they need to sound out smaller.
  • For writing, encourage them to try the different sounds they know if they are unsure of the spelling to see if they can work out which is the correct one to use.


Key Stage 2

My child is in KS2 but still struggles with phonics. What will happen now?

All children learn at different paces and at Westover we understand that some children may need a little extra support when it comes to phonics. Through our embedded transition programme between KS1 and KS2 and regular assessments, children who may need extra phonics are identified early and targeted support is put in place either in the form of 1:1 support or small group work. The phonics programme which we use means that we can closely monitor your child’s progress and adapt the teaching to meet the needs of every individual. Your child’s class teacher will speak to you if they feel they would benefit from this support.



Useful Websites to Support Your Child at Home


A video that goes through each sound and it’s pronunciation:  



Games to play: