At Sparrow Farm Infant and Nursery School we aim to develop the full potential of all our pupils as confident, literate readers and writers. If children are to develop as competent readers and writers, it is vitally important that they have a secure understanding of the letter sounds and spelling system of the English language. Phonic skills need to be developed in a systematic way, based on a stage approach.

The Principles of Letters and Sounds Programme

We follow the Letters and Sounds Programme, providing a synthetic approach to the teaching of phonics, from Foundation Stage and through KS1. The programme focuses on securing word recognition skills, essential for children to decode (read) and encode (spell) words accurately and language comprehension.

The programme is in six phases: phase one promotes speaking/listening skills, phonological awareness and oral blending/segmenting; phases two to five focus on high quality phonic work to help children develop fluent word reading and spelling skills. The sessions are delivered to ensure participation and engagement, resulting in high-quality phonic work on a daily basis. This helps practitioners and teachers ensure that by the end of Key Stage 1 children develop fluent word reading skills and good foundations in spelling.

Letters and Sounds is supplemented by Espresso, Phonics Play, other ICT games and resources made by the teachers. Each session gives an opportunity for children to revisit their previous experience, be taught new skills, practise together and apply what they have learned.

Progression and Delivery

It is recommended that children in phase two to five of Letters and Sounds should be taught a discrete 20 minute daily session of phonics. Teachers use LCP Phonics Planning as a basis for their planning and add enhancements and adaptions, where appropriate. The lessons are interactive and fully inclusive, with the whole class taught together. The expectation is that all children will progress at age-related or above. Children who are not at the age-related standard have additional intervention in small groups or 1:1.

During the discrete sessions, children are:

  • Able to revisit and review sounds they have been learning
  • Taught a new phoneme (sound) every day
  • Taught to read spell words with the phonemes they have learnt
  • Taught common exception (tricky) words that cannot be sounded out to read or spell
  • Taught to apply their growing phonic knowledge to read and write sentences

In the Letters and Sounds scheme, there are 6 phases the children progress through until the end of Year 2. Their progression through the phases are as follows:

Children will be given plenty of opportunities to apply their phonic knowledge and skills when reading and writing across the curriculum and independently during role play. Teachers will observe children’s application of phonics and record their progress termly.

Each year, we provide parent workshops, so parents can find out about how we teach phonics, and how they can support their children at home.

There are a number of resources available that would support the teaching of phonics in school:

www.phonicsplay.co.uk/ – this is a subscription website and costs £12 per year.

Click here to see the Word lists for Reception, Year One and Year Two.

Phonics Screening Check

The statutory Year 1 Phonics Screening Check takes place in June. The check is a list of 40 words which children will read one -to-one with a teacher. It will assess phonics skills and knowledge learned through Reception and Year 1and ensure that children have learned phonic decoding to an appropriate standard by the age of 6.

It will check that your child can:

  • Sound out and blend graphemes in order to read simple words e.g. n-igh-t
  • Read phonically decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words, e.g. cat, sand, windmill.
  • Read a selection of nonsense words which are referred to as ‘pseudo words’.

The phonics check will help teachers identify the children who need extra help so they can receive the support they need to improve their reading skills. These children will then be able to retake the check in year 2. Parents will be notified if their child has not met the threshold in Year 1 and will have to retake the test in Year 2.


At Sparrow Farm Infant and Nursery School, we expect every child to become a fluent reader by the time they have completed their primary education. We expect parents to listen to their children read every day. This is part of our ‘Every Child, Every Night initiative’. Children are given plenty of opportunities to read across the curriculum in school.

The focus for reading is:

  • Word reading – sounding out, building up a sight vocabulary, working out the unknown word.
  • Comprehension – children being able to talk about and answer questions on what they have read.

In Nursery and our Pre-school children participate in music and rhyme to support their pre-literacy skills, such as listening skills and sound recognition. Singing songs and reciting rhymes lay the foundations for reading and basic literacy. Each year group has a core selection of rhymes and rhythms which are repeated to help children develop their memorisation skills and their ability to differentiate sounds.

Click here to find out which nursery rhymes and songs the children will be singing.

In Reception, children are heard to read 1:1 by an adult two times a week. There are many opportunities for children to apply their early reading skills, for example, labels in both the inside and outside areas, signs and instructions in the learning environment. Children will also employ their growing phonics skills during role play using the carefully chosen and considered resources and forms for recording to scaffold their learning.

From Year One, children are heard to read 1:1 by an adult once a week. In addition, children are heard to read by their class teacher once a week during a guided reading session. This is when a group of up to six children develop their reading skills with their teacher, focused on a carefully selected book.

All children will develop their reading skills through independent, shared and guided reading.

Our core reading scheme is Bug Club which is introduced from Reception, until children become fluent readers. We use Bug Club to ignite our children’s love of reading and nurture reading growth. The scheme has a wealth of interesting fiction and non-fiction books for children to choose from. There are also eBooks available for children to support reading outside of school. Each child will have a unique login to access a wide range of books within their reading band. There are trackable, embdedded activities in every eBook and notes for parents and teachers to deepen understanding. We use ‘Oxford Reading Tree’ to supplement our core reading scheme and support children to become fluent readers.

Once children are fluent in their reading, they become ‘free readers.’ This means they can select books to read from the class or school library. Teachers support them to select appropriate texts. Many of our children become free readers during the course of Year Two.

Click here to view the National Curriculum Expectations for Reading and Writing.

Power of Reading

At Sparrow Farm Infant school we have the adopted the ‘Power of Reading’ initiative from Reception to Year 2 to help create a love of reading culture in our school and promote high standards in literacy. We believe in the importance of quality books and literature in enabling children to become confident, happy and enthusiastic readers and writers and the benefits this brings.

Click here to see which books your children will be exploring this year.

We have spare copies of the core books for parents to borrow and read with their child at home. For each text the Class Teacher will provide parents with a list of the key vocabulary to support their language development.