• Calder Walk, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire CV31 1SA
Reading: Phonics

Our Vision for English

At Sydenham Primary School, staff ensure that all children develop a love of learning and that pupils at all levels achieve their full potential. In the EYFS, Communication and Language underpins all seven areas of learning and development. The adults in our EYFS work with the children in the provision to encourage, facilitate and model high quality talk. The development of vocabulary is a keen focus for us and staff highlight and model new vocabulary well. This is supported through a reading rich environment where children are read to frequently and children engage with stories, non-fiction, rhyme and poetry with enthusiasm. 

‚ÄčIt is crucial for children to develop a life-long love of reading and we have placed books at the core of our curriculum from Nursery to Year 6. Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. Reading is a key life skill. It is our intention that by the end of their primary education, all pupils will be able to read fluently and confidently. We endeavour for our children to become independent readers and thinkers who can develop their own thoughts and opinions on a range of familiar authors. We pride ourselves on providing an environment and curriculum which fosters a genuine enthusiasm for books and reading. The high quality texts we have chosen offer a window to the world, and reflect the rich and diverse school community; which enables our pupils to develop an understanding and acceptance of the world around them. Our aim: Every child a reader!

Our writing curriculum is text-based so it goes hand in hand with our mission to foster a genuine enthusiasm for books. We intend our children to be able to express their thoughts and ideas clearly and creatively through the written word. We aim to create confident and competent writers who have all the necessary skills and knowledge to write for a range of purposes and have the ability to draft, edit and improve their own work in order to create accurate, well considered pieces of writing. We set high expectations for all of our children to take pride in their work, have a fluent, joined handwriting style and consider the most effective way to present their final drafts.

We want all of our children to be capable readers, writers, spellers and speakers, who can transfer their English skills to other curriculum areas and who are prepared for the next phases in their education.

What is phonics? 

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. They are taught how to recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes; identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make - such as 'sh ' or 'oo ' ; and blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.

Children can then use this knowledge to 'de-code' new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.

Why phonics?

Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way - starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex - it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7 years.

Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment.

Children who have been taught phonics also tend to read more accurately than those taught using other methods, such as 'look and say'.

How do we teach phonics at Sydenham Primary school?

Our approach enables children to start learning phonic knowledge and skills using a systematic, synthetic programme by the age of five, with the expectation that they will be fluent readers having secure word recognition skills by the end of key stage one (Year 2).

Phonics is taught in discrete, daily sessions progressing from simple to more complex phonic knowledge and skills and covering the major grapheme / phoneme correspondences. We use a multi-sensory approach so that children learn variously from simultaneous visual, auditory and kinaesthetic activities which are designed to secure essential phonic knowledge and skills. Children are taught that phonemes should be blended, in order, from left to right for 'all through the word' reading. Teachers demonstrate how words can be segmented into their constituent phonemes for spelling and that this is the reverse of blending phonemes to read words.   

Reception Autumn Term

Oxford Level 1 Sounds Books in the Floppy’s Phonics series are wordless, and are used to enable children to focus on environmental sounds in different settings.

Oxford Level 1+ (Floppy’s Phonics books 1-6) teaches the first set of sounds (s/ss, a, t, p, i, n, m, d, g, o, c/k/ck, e, u, r, h, b, f/ff, l/ll, ul/le)

Reception Spring Term

Oxford Level 2 (Floppy’s Phonics books 7-12) teaches the next set of sounds, including introducing some digraphs and trigraphs (j, v, w, x, y, z/zz, qu, ch, sh, th, ng). One alternative common consonant grapheme spelling is introduced for some of the sounds (dge, ve, wh, cks, tch, nk)

Reception Summer Term

Oxford Level 3 (Floppy’s Phonics books 13-18) focuses on the next set of digraphs and trigraphs (ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, er). Alternative vowel graphemes are also introduced (ue, ure, ture)

Year 1 Autumn Term

Oxford Level 4 revises all previously taught sounds, and teaches blending adjacent consonants (Floppy’s Phonics books 19-20) and introduces one alternative spelling for some of the sounds, focusing on alternative vowel graphemes (Floppy’s Phonics books 21-24) (oa/ow, ue/ew, oo/ew, ow/ou, ur/ir, or/aw, ear/eer, air/are, s/ce, e/ea, u/o, -ed/d/t)

Year 1 Spring Term

Oxford Level 5 (Floppy’s Phonics books 25-30) teaches alternative spellings  (ai/ay/eigh/ey, a/a-e/ae/ea, ee/e/y/ey, ea/e-e/ie, igh/i/y, ie/i-e, oa/ow/o, oe/o-e/ough/eau, s/ss/se/ce, ce/ci/cy, sc/st, e/ea, j/ge/gi/gy, ge/dge, le/el, al/il, ue/u, ew/u-e/eu, oo/u-e/o/ou/ough, ue/ew/ui/u, oi/oy, ow/ou/ough, or/our, aw/au/al/ar)

Year 1 Summer Term

Oxford Level 5 (Floppy’s Phonics books 31-36) teaches alternative spellings (ur/ir/er, ear/or, u/o/ou/our, ar/a/al, s/si/ge, w/wh/u, f/ff, ph/gh, ch/tch/ture/sh/ch/ti/ci/ssi/sci, g/ug/gue/gh, ear/eer/ere/ier, air/are/ear/ere, n/nn/kn/gn, r/rr/wr/rh, m/mm/mb/mn, c/k/ck/ch/qu/que, or/ore/our/oor/oar, aw/al/augh/ough) and alternative pronunciations (ch/k/sh, ie/ee, ow/ou/oa, a/ai/wa/o)

Oxford Reading Tree Floppy's Phonics Sounds and Letters

The ORT Floppy’s Phonics Sounds and Letters systematic synthetic phonics programme provides our school with all the structure and resources we need to deliver really effective synthetic phonics teaching for all children – as well as enriching their vocabulary and language comprehension.

The Floppy’s Phonics Sounds and Letters programme teaches the letter/s-sound correspondences of the English alphabetic code explicitly and comprehensively for reading, spelling and handwriting:

  • Systematic and structured with inbuilt rigorous revision to ensure the success of every child
  • Includes the characters of Floppy the dog, Biff, Chip and Kipper and their family and friends, with hundreds of colour pictures to engage children fully for the phonics teaching & learning, vocabulary enrichment and language comprehension
  • Rigorous teaching sequence ensuring the phonics teaching & learning is straightforward, effective and allows for differentiation in simple, but effective, ways
  • Builds up knowledge of spelling word banks over time where words are spelt with the same letter/s-sound correspondences
  • Designed to inform parents/carers routinely and to work in partnership with them wherever possible
  • The order of introducing the 44 sounds of the English language matches the order in ‘Letters and Sounds’ (DfES, 2007)

For further information about Floppy's Phonics, please click on the links below:


For information about the Phonics Screening Check, please click below: