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Saxon Primary School


Phonics and Early Reading

What is Phonics?

Phonics is making connections between the sounds of our spoken words and the letters that are used to write them down.

At Saxon Primary School, we ensure all children follow the systematic and rigorous teaching of daily phonics, using Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised. These 10-30 minute sessions are planned and resourced using the Little Wandle’s  Letters and Sounds Revised programme.

We assess children every six weeks to check progress. Any child who needs extra support has daily keep-up sessions planned for them.


Helpful definitions:

Phoneme - The smallest unit of sounds that can be identified in words.

Grapheme - A letter or a group of letters used to represent a particular phoneme. The way graphemes are used to represent phonemes in our written language is known as the ‘alphabetic code’

Diagraph - two letters that make one sound/phoneme

Trigraph - three letters that make one sound/phoneme

Split vowel digraph - A diagraph representing a vowel sound where its two letters are split by an intervening consonant

Blend - to combine individual phonemes into a whole word, working all the way through from left to right

Segment - To identify each of the individual phonemes in a word. This is an important first stage of writing a word but needs to be practised orally first.


How do we teach early reading in books?

As well as Phonics teaching, as part of Early Reading practice, children are exposed to their phonetically decodable book through 2-3 x weekly guided reading sessions. The book used are the connected Big Cat Phonics for Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised.

Reading practice sessions are:

  • timetabled three times a week
  • taught by a trained teacher/teaching assistant
  • taught in small groups.

The children read the same book three times in a week. The first time we work on decoding (sounding out) the words, the second time we work on prosody which is reading with expression – making the book sound more interesting with our story-teller voice or our David Attenborough voice – and the third time we look at comprehension. We read the books three times at school because we want to develop the fluency. The more they see words the more they begin to read them automatically without having to sound them out.

Reading at home is expected 5 x weekly and reading records are checked each week. Reading books at this stage are consistent with their assessed phonic stage. Children working through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds are given the book they read at school during their guided reading sessions. Children are also encouraged to take home a ‘reading for pleasure’ book which can be shared with parents. This book allows other reading strategies to be employed and children are exposed to a greater range of vocabulary and genres. It also serves to meet their interests and preferences. Time is made in school for those children who are unable to have the relevant support at home to allow them to achieve this.

Reading a book at the right level

This means that the child should:

  • Know all the sounds and tricky words in their phonics book well
  • Read many of the words by silent blending (in their head) – their reading will be automatic
  • Only need to stop and sound out about 5% of the words by the time they bring the book home – but they should be able to do this on their own.


For those children in Year 2 who did not pass the phonics screening test in Year 1 or who are not yet reading fluently at Phase 5 Set 5, additional, small group interventions take place.


Please click on the additional links below for further information.



Saxon Primary School