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Phonics & Reading

At Hordle Primary School we are committed to the delivery of excellence in the teaching of Phonics. We have high aspirations for all our pupils in reading and it is our aim to ensure they can read with fluency as well as develop a love of reading that will allow them to live life in all its fullness. 

We passionately believe that reading is the key to success and underpins children’s access to the curriculum, it’s like a key to unlock the door to learning. 

Our consistent approach to phonics ensures that all children are given the very best possible foundation reading, writing and language skills. 


The school follows the government-validated Systematic Synthetic Phonics programme “Read Write Inc” which is designed to ensure progress for every child. Pupils are taught phonemes (sounds) and blending skills to enable them to decode and read words. 

The scheme teaches the sounds in a systematic order which allows them to quickly begin to put sounds together to read words. For example, many words can be created from the letters MASDT, whereas very few could be built using the initial letters of the alphabet ABCDE.

Pupils are taught to use their phonic skills and knowledge as their first approach to reading but are also taught high-frequency words which do not completely follow the phonic rules.



Nursery (Ages 2+)

In Nursery, our phonics is taught through continuous provision and play alongside short, age-appropriate sessions which focus on hearing and identifying sounds. Children develop the skills of tuning into a range of sounds (environmental and instrumental) and start to blend sounds into simple words.

Some of our favourite games include:

  • A listening walk – what sounds can I hear?
  • Exploring the sounds we can make with our bodies
  • Joining in with a rhyming story, such as Oi Frog by Kes Gray and Shark in the Park by Nick Sharrat
  • Learning nursery rhymes off by heart

In Year R children learn phonemes (sounds) and graphemes (letters) from set one and set two. These are taught in a specific order (see below), gradually building on the phonemes secured to support children in independently blending and decoding words. It is vitally important that children review and revisit Grapheme Phoneme correspondences regularly in order to move this knowledge into children’s long-term memory.

Home School Links

Parent Support

Across the Eary Years, the team has developed a wide range of home-learning experiences which encourage adults to talk with children about the world around them and enjoy stories, rhymes, poems and songs. This provides children with extensive opportunities to use and embed new words in a range of contexts, giving children the opportunity to thrive. 

Some of the home-learning activities include:

  • progressively challenging nursery rhymes
  • bedtime story book library
  • new word of the day challenge
  • oral storytelling

In Year R and Year 1, parents are invited to phonics information sessions. During these well-attended sessions, parents are shown how phonics lessons are delivered in school and given practical advice on how best to support their children at home. 

Reading Books

We are passionate that children become confident readers who take pleasure in reading a range of genres. To achieve this, children who are still on the RWI phonics scheme, take home two weeks each week. Firstly, there is one book to develop fluency: this is a RWi BOOK BAG BOOK which is fully-decodable and matched to their phonic ability. The second book is designed to develop enjoyment of reading: this is a book chosen by the child from a banded selection.

Reading Records

Across school, families record their engagement with reading by completing a school reading record. This initiative has been specifically designed to motivate pupils and support families. Age-appropriate recommended reads, including non-fiction and poetry, are signposted to families and these books are available to borrow from the school library. Children are rewarded for reading by earning BOOST points for developing reading habits.

Glossary of Phonics Terms

Here are some technical terms your child might begin to learn at home:

  • Phoneme – Phonemes are the smallest unit of speech – sounds which make up a word.  If you change a phoneme in a word, you would change its meaning. For example, there are three phonemes in the word sit /s/-/i/-/t/. If you change the phoneme /s/ for /f/, you have a new word, fit. If you change the phoneme /t/ in fit for a /sh/, you have a new word, fish – /f/-/i/-/sh/.
  • Grapheme – Graphemes are the written representation of sounds – the letters.
  • Digraph – A grapheme containing 2 letters that makes just one sound, eg /sh/ in shop or /ch/ in chip.
  • Trigraph – A grapheme containing 3 letters that makes just one sound, eg /air/ in pair or /igh/ in night.
  • Split Digraph – A grapheme containing 2 letters but are separated by another sound, eg ‘ae’ in make is separated by the sound /k/ so it is split /a-e/.
  • Blend – The process of putting individual sounds together to read a word, eg sh–o-p, shop.
  • Fred Talk/Segment – The process of breaking a word into individual sounds to spell a word.
  • Sound Buttons – Teachers might use these under words to indicate whether the sound is a single letter sound (dot) or a digraph/trigraph (dash) to help children to blend the sounds correctly in the word, eg shop.


Through the consistent, systematic and daily teaching of the Read Write Inc Phonics programme, our aim is for children to become fluent, confident readers who accurately understand the books they read by the end of Key Stage One. 

Teacher Assessment                                                                                                        

Across Year R and KS1 assessment plays a pivotal role in the Read Write Inc phonics programme. All children are assessed on a regular basis by a familiar adult who is highly experienced in RwI in order to closely monitor progress. There is a focus on recognising taught phonemes and tracking children’s abilities to apply their decoding skills. The outcome of these assessments determines pupils’ RWI groupings. 

In addition, during Book Lessons – reading lessons with fully-decodable books matched to pupils’ phonic abilities – staff monitor the application of decoding skills when reading whole texts. 

Any pupils who are identified as making less than expected progress receive an intervention. 

Year One Phonics Screening Check         

Children are assessed at the end of Year 1 using a Government Statutory Assessment Tool known as the Phonics Screening Check. This screening check confirms whether the child has learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard and will identify sounds needing further support in Year 2. The children are assessed one to one by an adult who is familiar to them. Those who do not pass the screening check will continue their phonics lessons in Year 2 . This allows consolidation of sounds and the chance to develop their confidence, within a group aimed at their specific ability, ready to retake the screening check at the end of Year 2.