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Corby Glen Community Primary School

Phonics at Corby Glen Community Primary School

Reading is the key that unlocks the whole curriculum so the ability to efficiently decode is essential. At Corby Glen Community Primary School, we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We use the Read, Write, Inc (RWI) synthetic phonics programme to provide the foundations of learning to make the development into fluent reading and writing easier. Children learn to read fluently and at speed so they can focus on developing their skills in comprehension, vocabulary and spelling. Through RWI phonics children learn a simple alphabetic code followed by a more complex code. All reading books progress cumulatively, matched to the sound’s children are learning and already know. The teaching of phonics is of high priority.


What is Phonics?

Phonics is the method of teaching reading through the identification of sounds and graphemes. It is important that phonics is taught systematically so that children can decode words to word read.. All words are made up of individual sounds. These sounds are merged together to form words e.g. in 'mat' we have the sounds 'm', 'a', 't'.


These are important words that we use with the children when we talk about phonics:

  • Phoneme: a sound that is made by a letter or group of letters
  • Grapheme: the letter that corresponds to the sound
  • Digraph: two letters that make one sound i.e. sh, th, or oo
  • Trigraph: three letters that make one sound i.e. igh,
  • Split digraph: two letters that make one sound but they are 'split' by another phoneme i.e. have.


We use 44 sounds to make all the words in the English language … this means we have a problem! We have 44 sounds and only 26 letters. The 26 letters work singly, in pairs and sometimes in threes to represent one sound. We have to group letters together to write some sounds e.g. 'igh', 'air'.


In English we have more than 150 ways to represent 44 sounds, using the 26 letters of the alphabet. This makes our language one of the most complex in the world!

How is Phonics taught at Corby Glen?


We follow the Read Write Inc Phonics Programme in school. Our children are taught daily, for 20 minutes - whole class and small, targeted groups - across EYFS and KS1 to ensure they are challenged constantly. Using small group work allows staff to pinpoint any individual who may need additional support in this area and will plan intervention activities if required.  Your child's learning is regularly reviewed to ensure consistency, progression and continuity.


We teach our children sounds (phonemes)




Our children practise reading and spelling words containing these sounds



Then we give our children decodable books containing sounds and words they can read. They read each Storybook three times at school and again with you at home. On each reading your child's fluency increases and the more they can focus on what the story is about. Your child will also learn to spell words they have been reading and develop their ideas into sentences so they can write about the Storybooks they read.


Alongside this, we read stories to the children that they cannot yet read for themselves




Our aim is for children to finish the Read Write Inc Programme quickly so they can start reading these books for themselves.

How do we teach each sound?


Using Read Write Inc, we make learning to read easy for children because we start by teaching them just one way of reading and writing every sound. Here they are on the Simple Speed Sounds Chart we use in our classes.


Speed Sounds Set 1 and Set 2


We teach Set 1 sounds first (sounds as far as a, e, i, o, u). Children need to know the sounds - not letter names at this stage - to read the words.


We teach using pure sounds. We pronounce the sounds clearly, using pure sounds ('m' not 'muh'; 's' not 'suh' etc) so that your child will be able to blend the sounds together to make words more easily.







Speed Sounds Set 3

Once children know one way of reading and writing each sound, they start to learn spellings for each sound they already know. For example, they know 'ay' and now learn 'a-e' and 'ai' as other spellings for the same sound.


We use the Speed Sounds Set 3 chart in our classes to reinforce spelling rules as well as to support decoding words to word read.


How do we teach children to blend sounds?


Alongside teaching children sounds, we teach them to blend sounds to read words e.g. 's', 'a','t', sat


  • We use Fred talk to help children read


Let me introduce you to Fred. Fred can only speak in sounds. He says d-o-g, h-a-t etc. Speaking like Fred helps children to understand that words are made up of sounds. Fred helps children practise blending sounds together because he needs children to say the words for him. Fred says d-o-g children tell him the word dog.


This is how we quickly teach all of our children to blend.


  • We use Fred fingers to help children to spell

We use Fred Fingers to help children sound out words to spell easily. it means they do not have to memorise lists of spelling words. It is a tool they will beable to spell any word.






What can I do to support my child at home?


  • Use pure sounds, not letter names
  • Use Fred talk to read and spell words
  • Listen to your child read their Storybook every day
  • Read and enjoy stories and information books to your child every day



Find further information on how to support your child at home on the Read Write Inc  Parents' Page:


Parent video: Understanding Phonics

Parent video: What is Read Write Inc Phonics

Parent video: How to say the sounds


Parent video: Why read to your child

Parent video: The Phonics Screening Check

Parent video: 10 things to think about when you read to your child

Parent video: Reading the stretchy sounds with your child

Parent video: Reading the bouncy sounds with your child

Parent video: Reading the digraphs with your child

Parent video: Sound blending

What should my child be achieving in phonics?


By the end of Y1 your child should be able to:

  • apply phonic knowledge and skills as the route to decode words
  • respond speedily with the correct sound to graphemes (letters or groups of letters) for all 40+ phonemes, including, where applicable, alternative sounds for graphemes
  • read accurately by blending sounds in unfamiliar words containing grapheme/phoneme correspondences (GPCs)  that have been taught 
  • read common exception words, noting unusual correspondences between spelling and sound and where these occur in the word
  • read words containing taught GPCs and –s, –es, –ing, –ed, –er and –est endings
  • read other words of more than one syllable that contain taught GPCs
  • read words with contractions [for example, I’m, I’ll, we’ll], and understand that the apostrophe represents the omitted letter(s)
  •  read aloud accurately books that are consistent with their developing phonic knowledge and that do not require them to use other strategies to work out words
  • re-read these books to build up their fluency and confidence in word reading.