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Phonics at Culmstock Primary School

Wandle image

Our Phonics Drivers

1. For our pupils to have a strong knowledge and understanding of letters and sounds.

2. For our pupils to develop a love of reading.

3. For our pupils to read with fluency and prosody.

4. For our pupils to have an enhanced understanding of what they are reading.

5. For our pupils to be skilled in applying their knowledge of phonics to other areas of learning.

Our Phonics Focuses

1. To improve and develop our parents role in the learning of phonics.

2. Develop pupil's comprehension skills; retrieval and inference.

3. To support pupil's transition between phonics and reading. 

Culmstock Primary School Phonics Policy

March 2023

General Statement

Our intent, in Phonics, at Culmstock Primary School is to ensure all children have a solid knowledge and understanding of letters and sounds, ensuring that it is embedded and built upon as they progress through the early years and KS1. Our aim is to ensure that children start to develop a love of reading right at the very beginning of their school journey. We aim to provide children with the knowledge and skills to ensure that they are confident and enthusiastic readers. We believe that every child has the ability to become highly competent readers and writers. Reading is such an important skill in so many aspects of life. When children move on to Secondary School, our aim is that children leave us reading regularly for pleasure and are able to read confidently, with meaning and understanding.

At Culmstock Primary School all children in the Early Years and Key stage 1 have discrete daily phonics teaching. Children in Foundation, Year 1 and Year 2 are now following the Little Wandle Phonics scheme. This is a systematic and synthetic approach to teaching Phonics. Children at Culmstock Primary School are taught the phonemes (sounds) systematically through the phases of phonics and how to blend and segment for reading and writing. We recognise the importance of teaching children the essential decoding skills needed, which they will eventually be able to apply independently when both reading and writing. Using our Letter Join handwriting scheme and handwriting patterns, children are taught how to form their letters correctly and are reminded of these to help them when writing. Alongside this, they are also taught to read and spell tricky words, high frequency words and common words. These are matched to their current phonic stage. The Little Wandle programme sets out the phases of phonics from Phase 2 to Phase 5 and each phase builds upon the knowledge and skills that have been previously taught. Children’s progress is monitored frequently, with review sessions in place each Friday.

We recognise the development of spoken language and the enjoyment and comprehension of quality literature go hand in hand to develop a lifelong love of reading. We aim to nurture and develop these attributes alongside our school’s approach to phonics. Each week, children are given a book that is matched to their current phonic stage, as well as an additional book for pleasure. We visit the library each week and the children can select form a range of picture books.

Our Phonics Policy sets out the means by which we ensure consistency and a systematic approach to the teaching and learning of phonics. It will allow our children to learn to read and spell words both independently and confidently, using the sounds they have required during their first years of school. It aims to reinforce the high expectations that we have at Culmstock for pupil progress.


  • To teach children phonics from the very start of their school journey.
  • To teach the skills of aural discriminations, rhyme and phoneme awareness to aid reading and writing development; equipping them to become readers for life.
  • To ensure that children use their segmenting and blending skills as a foundation for reading and writing.
  • To ensure the daily teaching of phonics follows the structure and layout of the Bug club phonics programme.
  • To ensure the daily teaching of phonics meets the needs of all children and that all children can access the daily content.
  • To ensure that children know the 44 phonemes in the English Language and apply these effectively to reading and writing.
  • To teach children to identify the graphemes within words and link them with the correct phoneme when reading (grapheme phoneme correspondence).
  • To teach children tricky words, high frequency words and common words and recognise the need for sight reading.


  • To provide consistent high-quality teaching of phonics across the school.
  • To ensure that the teaching of phonic is systematic and progressive throughout Early Years, Key stage 1 and into Key stage 2.
  • To ensure children have a solid and secure knowledge and understanding of phonics.
  • To ensure that children can confidently and independently apply their phonics skills when reading and writing.

Teaching and Learning

Throughout the Early Years and KS1, high quality phonics is taught systematically. We follow the Little Wandle programme in reception, Year 1 and Year 2.

Daily taught phonics sessions will consist predominantly of resources related to the sounds and words for the day/week. It will follow the phases of Little Wandle.

The reading books in Reception and Key stage 1 are carefully matched to the phases of phonics so that children can access books linked to their individual phonic needs. These decodable books are set online so that children can share their success in reading with their adults at home. Pupils also take home an additional Bug Club phonics book that is matched to the phonics sounds they have been taught. This is to ensure fluency and to instil a love of, and confidence in, reading.

What does a typical phonics session look like at Culmstock?

Revisit and Review - Recap any previous graphemes and words

Teach – Introduce a new phoneme/grapheme/word

Practice – develop GPCs (grapheme phoneme correspondences)

  • read and spell new sounds – blend and segment/segment and blend

Apply – Use the new graphemes and words – read and write words, captions and sentences.

Assess – Monitor progress within each phase to inform planning

During the phonics sessions in Reception and Year 1, children are taught:

  1. Grapheme-phoneme correspondences using our Little Wandle phonics programme.
  2. The skill of segmenting and blending words in order to read and write them.
  3. That blending and segmenting are reversible skills and can be used in conjunction with one another.
  4. To apply these learnt skills into reading and writing captions and sentences.
  5. To read and write tricky words, common words and high frequency words.

Children in both Reception and Year 1 will be exposed to read and ‘pseudo’ words. They will have the opportunity to both blend and segment these words in order to prepare them for the upcoming ‘Phonics Screening Check’ that they will take at the end of Year 1.

The Phonics Phases


Graphemes and spelling rules Taught

Tricky Words Taught

Phase Two (Reception) 10 weeks (Autumn 1 and Autumn 2)

s, a, t, p, i, n, m, d, g, o, c, k, ck, e, u, r, h, b, f, l, ff, ll, ss, j, v, w, x, y, z, zz, qu, words with ‘s’ added at the end (e.g. hats, sits), ch, sh, th, ng, nk

Is, I, the, put, pull, full, as, and, has, his, her, go, no, to, into, she, push, he, of, we, me, be

Phase Three (Reception) 10 weeks (Spring 1 and Spring 2) – review in Year 1

ai, ee, igh, oa, oo (spoon), oo (book), ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, er, words with double letters (dd, mm, tt, bb, rr, gg, pp, ff)

was, you, they, my, by, all, are, sure, pure

Phase Four (Reception) 10 weeks (Summer 1 and Summer 2) – review in Year 1


C = consonant

V = vowel

Compound words, root words ending in –ing, -ed, --est

Long vowel sounds CVCC, CCVC, CCVC, CCCVC, CCV, CCVCC, words ending in –s, -es

said, so, have, like, some, come, love, do, were, here, little, says, there, when, what, one, out, today


Review all taught so far

Phase Five (Throughout Year 1)

ay, ou, oy, ea, ir, ie, ue (blue), ue (rescue), a-e, i-e, o-e, u-e (rude), u-e (cute), e-e, ew (chew), ew (new), aw, y (funny), wh, oe, y (fly), ph (phone), se (cheese), ce (fence), ey, alternative pronunciations of graphemes already taught

their, people, oh, your, Mr, Mrs, Ms, ask, could, would, should, our, house, mouse, water, want, any, many, again, who, whole, where, two, school, call, different, thought, through, friend, work, once, laugh, because, eye


Children’s progress is monitored frequently, with review sessions in place each Friday. Teachers will also carry out half termly assessments to identify children who may need further support. 

Children in Year 1 will sit the Phonics Screening Check in the summer term. Children that do not pass this will then be retested in Year 2.

Children in Year 2 and across Key stage 2 will continue to access phonics through the use of intervention sessions. Any child in school in the need of targeted phonics intervention will receive this through the Little Wandle Keep-Up programme, to ensure that no child is left behind. Teachers will use individual assessments to inform them of progress they are making.

For more information about how we teach phonics and support for reading and writing resources and videos, please visit: 


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