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Early Reading and Phonics

Phonics at Hethersett VC Primary School


Phonics at Hethersett VC Primary is taught though a highly structured programme of daily lessons across FS/KS1 using a variety of fun activities. We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds scheme of work,  A discrete lesson of approximately 20 minutes takes place daily in the classes.    


Please visit for details information and video content to help you support your child with saying their sounds and writing their letters.


Children are taught:
• The grapheme/phoneme correspondence in a clearly defined sequence

• The skill of segmenting words into their constituent phonemes to spell.

• That blending and segmenting are reversible processes.


Phases of the Phonics Programme


In this programme, children progress through different phases which concentrate on different GPCs and tricky words each term-by-term. The progression has been organised so that children are taught from the simple to more complex GPCs, as well as taking into account the frequency of their occurrence in the most commonly encountered words. All the graphemes taught are practised in words, sentences, and later on, in fully decodable books. Children review and revise GPCs and words, daily, weekly and across terms and years, in order to move this knowledge into their long term memory.


Children need to learn to read as quickly as reasonably possible, so they can move from learning to read, to reading to learn, giving them access to the treasure house of reading. Our expectations of progression are aspirational yet achievable if we maintain pace, practice and participation by all children. Children who are not keeping-up with their peers will be given additional practice immediately through keep-up sessions.


There are 4 elements to a phonics session:


Review - Flashcards should be used daily to recap graphemes previously taught. Along with a reading or writing activity reviewing the previous week/days learning. This section should be very fast paced and allow children to apply their prior learning quickly.

Teach – This section should have some new learning and teach reading or writing skills.

Practise – This section should allow children to practise their reading/writing skills. This could be done with words, phrases or sentences. Children should be supported where necessary and work amongst peers e.g. playing games together to apply their teach section.

Apply – This section should give children the opportunity to apply their skills independently through reading/writing a range of words.


What a session should look like

A Little Wandle Letters and Sounds session should be fast paced. By allowing the children to work in a variety of areas you allow them to remain focussed. Review, practise and apply elements of your session should include games which have worked for our children. 



Throughout each phase of Little Wandle Letters and Sounds, the spelling of tricky words (Words that can’t be sounded out) and high frequency words (words that are commonly used). Children use the ‘Look Cover Write Check’ strategy for learning a new spelling. The class teacher uses a variety of methods to ensure the correct spelling of the high frequency words is appropriate to each phase plus topic specific vocabulary.

Children will be given high frequency and tricky words to practice at home with parents as soon as the class teacher feels they are ready.


By the end of the Foundation Stage it is expected that children will be working within phase 4 of Letters and Sounds and that they are able read and write 45 high frequency words.




In Reception…


The national Phonics screening check is performed in June of Year 1. The purpose of the screening check is to confirm that all children have learned phonic decoding to an age appropriate standard. The children who did not meet the required standard for the check in year 1, are entered again in year 2 and receive additional intervention support to help them reach the standard. As children enter KS2 provision is made for those children still requiring support with reading and spelling.


Phonics Key Vocabulary



Phonics consists of knowledge of the skills of segmenting and blending, knowledge of the alphabet including letter names and their sounds is the foundation for developing reading and spelling.



 A phoneme (what you hear) is the smallest unit of sound in a word that can change its meaning e.g. in bed, and led the difference between the phonemes b and l signals the difference in meaning between the words bed, led



A grapheme is a letter or group of letters representing a sound. The alphabet contains only 26 letters but we use it to make up all the graphemes (what is written) that represent the

phonemes (what you hear).



Blending consists of linking phonemes to read words. It is very important to make sure that children have secure blending skills in order to read whole words to obtain reading for meaning. The skill of blending is practised through the reading of pseudo/nonsense words.



Segmenting consists of breaking words down into their phonemes (what you hear) to spell by choosing the correct grapheme (what you write). There will always be the same phonemes and graphemes in a word. Phoneme frames and bars and buttons are used to support this skill.



A letter that is not a vowel.



Any of the letters a, e, i, o, u



A digraph is a two-letter grapheme where two letters represent one sound such as ‘ea’ in seat and ‘sh’ in ship. A split digraph is a digraph that is separated by a letter but still makes the same sound. For example ‘ae’ is split in date.



A trigraph is a three-letter grapheme where three letters represent one phoneme. e.g. and ‘igh’ in light.


Below you will find lots of resources to help you support phonics at home.

Year one screening check resources