Phonics and Reading 

Phonics and Reading at Tolworth School

The ability to read and write well is a vital skill for all children, paving the way for an enjoyable and successful school experience.  At Tolworth School we aim to provide a language-rich environment where we can introduce your child to books as a source of pleasure and knowledge that will continue throughout life.  Your child will access this environment both by listening to a range of texts and by learning to read with increasing fluency, accuracy and understanding.


 ‘Phonics’ is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read.  It runs alongside other teaching methods such as ‘guided reading’ and ‘shared reading’ to help children develop all the other vital reading skills and hopefully give them a real love of reading.


At Tolworth School we provide daily high quality systematic phonics teaching  
following the pace and progression from the government scheme ‘Letters
and Sounds’.


Children are taught:
GPCs (grapheme/phoneme correspondences)
They are taught GPCs. This stands for grapheme phoneme correspondences. This simply means that they are taught all the phonemes in the English language and ways of writing them down. These sounds are taught in a particular order. The first sounds to be taught are s, a, t, p.
Children are taught to be able to blend. This is when children say the sounds that make up a word and are able to merge the sounds together until they can hear what the word is.  This skill is vital in learning to read.
Children are also taught to segment. This is the opposite of blending.  Children are able to say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up. This skill is vital in being able to spell words.


The progression we follow, from ‘Letters and Sounds’ covers 6 six phases from Nursery to Year Two: 


New Sounds

Tricky Words

Phase One


Phase One of ‘Letters and Sounds’ concentrates on developing children's speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for the phonic work which starts in Phase 2. The emphasis during Phase One is to get children attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.

Phase Two


Set 1: s, a, t, p

Set 2: i, n, m, d

Set 3: g, o, c, k

Set 4: ck, e, u, r

        Set 5: h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss








In Phase Two, letters and their sounds are introduced one at a time. A set of letters is taught each week. The children will begin to learn to blend and segment to begin reading and spelling. This will begin with simple words such as cat, pin etc….


Phase Three


Set 6: j, v, w, x

Set 7: y, z, zz, qu

Consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng

Vowel digraphs: ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er



he, she, we, me,

be, was, you, they, all,

are, my, her

By the time they reach Phase Three, children will already be able to blend and segment words containing the 19 letters taught in Phase 2. Over the twelve weeks which Phase 3 is expected to last, twenty-five new graphemes are introduced (one at a time).

Phase Four

Reception/Year One

The main aim of this phase 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

said, have, like, so,

do, some, come, were, there, little, one, when, out, what


By Phase Four children will be able to represent each of 44 phonemes with a grapheme. They will blend phonemes to read CVC words and segment CVC words for spelling. They will also be able to read two syllable words that are simple. They will be able to read all the tricky words learnt so far and will be able to spell some of them. This phase consolidates all the children have learnt in the previous phases.

Phase Five

Year One

In Phase Five, children will learn more graphemes and phonemes. For example, they already know ai as in rain, but now they will be introduced to ay as in day and a-e as in make. This will take time to use and apply these and children will need time to experiment with their spelling.

Alternative pronunciations for graphemes will also be introduced, e.g. ea in tea, head and break.

ay, ou, ie, ea, oy, ir, ue, aw, wh, ph, ew, oe, au, ey, a-e, e-e, i-e, o-e, u-e



oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked, could


Children entering Phase Five will already be able to read and spell words with adjacent consonants, such as trap, string and flask and be able to spell them. They will also be able to read and spell polysyllabic words such as bonfire, playing, shouting.

With practice, speed at recognising and blending graphemes will improve. Word and spelling knowledge will be worked on extensively.


Children in Year One undertake a Phonics screening check in June. This is carried out by the child’s class teacher in a quiet and informal manner so that your child feels comfortable and relaxed. For any child that does not meet the required standard, the school puts into place interventions to support them at home and at school in the areas identified from the screening check.

Phase Six

Year Two

Children will be able to read many familiar words automatically. When they come across unfamiliar words they will in many cases be able to decode them quickly and quietly using their well-developed sounding and blending skills. With more complex unfamiliar words they will often be able to decode them by sounding them out.

Suffixes will be introduced as well as basic grammar strategies.

- s, es, ing, ed, er, est, y, en, ful, ly, ment, ness, en



 At this stage children should be able to spell words phonemically although not always correctly. In Phase Six the main aim is for children to become more fluent readers and more accurate spellers.



We use a multi-sensory approach to teaching phonics, using methods and teaching ideas from ‘Letterland’. We value the importance of phonics teaching and therefore it is taught every day, with strategies put in place for any child who may need extra support. 

 At Tolworth we teach children reading in whole class, small groups and individually. Children are heard read by their teacher at least once a week.  All our reading books – both home readers and guided reading books - are organised and labelled according to the ‘Book Bands’ system. This provides children with a range of texts from a variety of authors - fiction and non-fiction. The ‘Book Band’ system provides a clear progression; each band is matched to the phase of phonics that the children are learning. Children will bring home a variety of fiction and non-fiction books and we encourage parents to read with their children as often as possible. Each child has a reading diary which stays in their book bag and this is a record of what they are reading, who they are reading to and any next steps to practise.

 At Tolworth we want all children to love reading and the children have opportunities to share books throughout the day in their classroom, in our library and on our library bus. Each class has a book corner, which has been designed to be as exciting and welcoming as possible.