Home Page

Phonics and Reading

What is phonics?


Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully by decoding the text in front of them.

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. 

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’. This includes children who find learning to read difficult, for example those who have dyslexia.


How Phonics is taught at St Thomas of Canterbury?


NEW FOR 2021

At St Thomas of Canterbury, the systematic teaching of phonics is now taught using 'Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised'. This is a systematic, synthetic phonics scheme of work, developed by reading experts at national English Hubs. It has been built around Letters and Sounds and draws on the latest research into how best children learn to read, how to ensure learning stays in the children's long term memory and how best to enable children to apply their learning to become highly competent readers. 


All pupils at St. Thomas of Canterbury will access the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised program. The children will work through the phonics scheme as scheduled throughout Reception and Year 1. Pupils with complex Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities may work at a different pace to the children in their year group and will access the resources at their level of learning. 


In Reception and Year 1, two daily phonics sessions will be delivered by trained members of our school staff. Alongside this, will be a 'Reading aloud' session where children will apply their phonics learning as they read a book, (Collins), three times each week. The same weekly book will be shared as an e-book with parents, to allow your child even more practise reading the book at home. This will help develop their reading skills and their confidence as an early reader. 


Assessment of Phonics


'Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised' includes regular assessments. Weekly on-going assessments take place every Friday to see if any children need 'keep up' sessions to help them to stay on track with the teaching and learning in class. Every six weeks, further assessments take place. 


At the end of Year 1, the Year 1 Phonics Screening check will take place. This is a national assessment that all Year 1 children take part in. Over the year, teachers will prepare the children for this screening check so they know what to expect. Further information on how to support your child in preparation for the screening check will be offered nearer the time.




'Early Literacy Support' may be offered to develop English skills during Year 1. A highly effective reading intervention called 'Reading Recovery' may be administered if a child is struggling to learn to read using these tradition methods. Your class teacher will discuss this with you.


'Little Wandle' offer help and support for Parents about their scheme of work. Please visit their website to see how you can support your child with their early reading. If you would like to find out more about phonics in general, visit the phonics section of the Department for Education website

Parents Guide to Phonics

How we teach reading


Reading is a priority here at St. Thomas of Canterbury, and we pride ourselves on our many achievements! Reading is a core skill that allows children access to all areas of the enriched curriculum, and is in fact an essential and rewarding life skill. Books are placed at the heart of every topic, and reading is integral to everyday school life.



Our amazing library is filled with an abundance of picture books, modern and classic novels, inspirational biographies and exciting non-fiction! Request a book, and our super librarians will try their hardest to find/buy the book for you.

 National book events such as ‘World Book Day’ are also celebrated, alongside visits from authors and poets!



During Guided Reading, the class teacher teaches the children in small (similar ability) groups. Here they learn to apply their phonics, use the pictures, segment and blend words, read around the tricky word, etc. They learn to ask and answer questions about the book to develop their comprehension (understanding) of the text.

Whilst the children are still learning the mechanics of reading, an adult in school will listen to them read. Supporting your child to read at home every night will help your child to make progress.

Our home reading scheme


Parental support for reading is requested please. Your encouragement and support helps your child to value reading and see themselves as a reader.


In Nursery, pupils take home a reading book from their Lending Library to share with Parents. From Reception to Year 1, pupils will have access to 2 phonics reading books at home: 1 will be a paper book and 1 will be an electronic book or e-book. 

By Year 2, children should ideally be a reader. At this stage, they still continue to read daily at home, working through our range of home-reading books. (This comprehensive scheme includes: Oxford Reading tree Songbirds, Floppy’s Phonics, and Project X; Pearson’s Bug Club, Tree Tops, Graphic Novels and more!)

By Upper KS2, pupils often complete the scheme books, and become ready to choose their own books from our library. At this point, children are competent readers - operating at the age appropriate level.