01278 684151
Pawlett Primary School Academy Gaunts Road, Pawlett, Bridgwater TA6 4SB
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Phonics and Early Reading

’Reading makes all other learning possible. We have to get books into our children’s hands early and often.’

Barack Obama 


Phonics is the key strategy that supports the teaching of reading and writing. The teaching of phonics teaches children how to hear, identify and use different sounds to distinguish one word from another. In the English alphabet, every letter and different combinations of letters make particular sounds for example the letter ‘s’ can make a hissing sound like a snake. Each unit of sound is called a phoneme, and each letter or combination of letters matched to that sound is called a grapheme. Teaching children to blend the sounds of letters together helps them decode unfamiliar or unknown words by sounding them out.

At Pawlett we combine high quality daily phonics teaching with an exposure to a range of quality texts and the promotion of reading for pleasure.

We follow the Read, Write Inc (RWI) programme to teach phonics. Phonics is taught daily in Heron Class (Reception and Year 1) and lessons follow the same structure:

  • Revisit the phonemes (sounds) already learn
  • Teach new phonemes and graphemes
  • Practise new phonemes learned
  • Apply the new phonemes by reading and writing words
  • Assess the new knowledge

Fred the Frog puppet plays an important role in our Read Write Inc. lessons. Fred is only able to speak in sounds, not whole words. We call this Fred Talk.

For example, Fred would say m – a – t we would say mat. Fred talk helps children read unfamiliar words by pronouncing each sound in the word one at a time. Children can start blending sounds into words as soon as they know a small group of letters well. During lessons children are taught to hear sounds and blend them together in sequence to make a word. We start with blending oral sounds, then progress to reading the letters and blending them together to read the word.

The following video is an example of blending sounds with Fred:


Order of teaching sounds

In Read Write Inc phonics, the individual sounds are called ‘speed sounds’ – because we want your child to read them effortlessly.

Set 1 sounds are the initial letter sounds. They are taught in the following order:

m, a, s, d, t, i, n, p, g, o, c, k, u, b, f, e, l, h, sh, r, j, v, y, w, th, z, ch, qu, x, ng, nk

There are 12 Set 2 ‘speed sounds’ that are made up of two or three letters which represent just one sound, e.g. ‘ay’ as in play, ‘ee’ as in tree and ‘igh’ as in high.

When children learn their Set 2 sounds they will learn:

  • the letters that represent a speed sound e.g. ay
  • a simple picture prompt linked to the ‘speed sound’ and a short phrase to say e.g. may I play.

Every speed sound has a list of green words linked to it, so your child can ‘sound out’ and ‘sound blend’ words containing the new speed sound they have just learnt, for example s-p-r-ay = spray.

When learning their Set 3 speed sounds they will be taught that there are more ways in which the same sounds are written, e.g. ee as in tree and ea as in tea.

The table below shows the sound, the associated phrase and example green words.

Vowel sound Set 2 Speed Sound Rhyme Green words
ay ay: may I play day play say may tray today
ee ee: what can you see? seen need sleep feel three green
igh igh: fly high might light sight night fright
ow ow: blow the snow snow flow know show blow
oo oo: poo at the zoo mood fool pool stool moon spoon
oo oo: look at a book took shook cook foot
ar ar: start the car bar park smart sharp car spark
or or: shut the door sort short worn horse sport fork
air air: that’s not fair fair stair hair lair chair
ir ir: whirl and twirl girl third whirl twirl dirt
ou ou: shout it out mouth round found loud shout
oy oy: toy for a boy toy boy enjoy
Set 3 Speed Sound Rhyme
a-e a-e: make a cake shake name same save brave late
ea ea: cup of tea neat real clean please dream
i-e i-e: nice smile hide shine white nice wide like
o-e o-e: phone home hope home rose spoke note those
u-e eu-e: huge brute tune rude use June excuse
aw aw: yawn at dawn saw raw law straw dawn crawl
are are: care and share bare spare scare flare square
ur ur: nurse with a purse burn turn hurl burp slurp lurk
ow ow: brown cow howl down brown drown gown
oi oi: spoil the boy join coin voice choice noise
ai ai: snail in the rain paint train rain plain strain
e e: he me she we he me she we he
oa oa: goat in a boat toad road oak loaf throat toast
ew ew: chew the stew new knew flew blew crew newt
er er: better letter over never weather hamster after
ire ire: fire fire spire bonfire inspire conspire hire
ear ear: hear with your ear fear dear gear spear year
ure ure: sure it’s pure picture mixture adventure pure


Click the link below to hear how to pronounce the sounds correctly.


It is expected that by Year 2 children will have progressed through all the phonics phases. In order to support all pupils, daily phonics and speed sound sessions take place in Year 2 and spelling rules are taught in line with the National Curriculum programme of study using the Spelling Shed programme and resources.

In June*, all Year 1 children complete a phonics screening test which is a short assessment to assess children’s phonics ability in decoding unknown words (also known as alien words) to an appropriate standard. The test consists of 40 words using a variety of phonemes and graphemes that they have been taught. These words consist of real and nonsense words.  Pupils who do not reach the expected standard in Year 1 will be provided with additional phonics support and intervention in order to allow them to meet the expected standard in Year 2.

*Depending on situation relating to Covid-19 this may change.

Teaching Reading

At Pawlett, children develop their reading skills in the following ways:

Whole class reading: children read a challenging text together and are taught new vocabulary during whole class reading lessons. The children develop their reading fluency and reading skills like retrieving information

Guided Reading: Guided reading takes place in a small group, with a teacher or teaching assistant, and focuses on developing children’s ability to become independent readers, thinkers and learners. The children are grouped by ability and read individual copies of the same text, which matches the reading level of the group to develop reading fluency. In Heron class it takes the form of Storybook Lessons which is the next stage of the Read Write Inc scheme aimed at children reading storybooks that are closely matched to their developing phonic knowledge. The storybooks consist of green words linked to the sounds they have been learning, red word (words that are not decodable) and challenge words to extend children’s vocabulary. After children have practiced these words individually they are prepared to see them in context in the story.

Activities such as comprehension questions, partner discussion and writing activities based on the book, follow. You may have heard your child talking about ‘hold, edit or build a sentence’. Hold a sentence is an activity that encourages children to remember a whole sentence while focusing on spelling and punctuation. Build a sentence is to give children the opportunity to create their own sentence to that shows the meaning of a word and edit a sentence allows the children to critique a sentence using their knowledge of spelling punctuation and grammar

From Year 2 upwards, texts are selected from the schools guided reading scheme or using ‘real’ books. Guided reading with KS1 uses a combination of phonics work (to promote children’s blending and decoding skills) and other guided reading schemes (to promote comprehension/understanding).

‘DEAR’ time (Drop everything and read) Children read any material that interests them, to assist them in fostering a genuine love of reading and help them to appreciate its value. Teaching read at the same time as the children to model and develop a love of reading.

Class stories: Texts that are age appropriate and of interest to the children are read aloud by the teacher. We believe that giving children the opportunity to hear and adult / teacher read to them, develops a child’s ability to comment on and respond to events and experiences within a text. These sessions also allow the teacher to check a child’s comprehension, by asking literal and inferential questions, which aid deeper understanding of the plot and themes of the story, also increasing their vocabulary.

Reading at home: In Reception and Year 1 the children take home a RWI reading book, which is suitable for their reading ability, featuring only the sounds that they have been taught in school so they are easily decodable. This is in line with the requirement of the National Curriculum that beginner readers should read books that are consistent with their developing phonic knowledge. Some of these books are blending books and some are story books to read at home and in school during independent reading time. They will also bring home a good quality story or picture book selected from our class library for sharing with families.

RWI do not follow a traditional book band system but the books are colour coded progressively.

From Year 2 onwards, children take home a mixture of book banded (colour-coded) reading books, which are suitable for their reading ability (these books are often from a range of reading schemes) and free reading books to read at home and in school during independent reading time.

Reading Partners: All our staff are dedicated to the improvement of reading in the Early Years and KS1, but we also have 2 members of staff who work as reading partners. They work primarily with our pupil premium children and those children that we identify as not making the expected progress to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to excel in reading. Reading sessions typically last 10-15 minutes and involve 1:1 reading support and the RWI Tutoring programme.

Reading Café: One morning every week for 30mins form when the school gates open at 8:30 parents and families are welcomed into school to read with the children. We have a rotation basis for these cafes throughout the week to make them as accessible as possible to all our families.

Reading with adults: We love welcoming parent helpers into our school to read with a range of children. This opportunity not only helps to develop the child’s fluency and understanding of a text, but also allows them to build on their interpersonal and social skills.

Reading buddies: Classes ‘buddy’ up with other classes to read together. Older children read with younger children to promote a love of reading across the school.