Holy Cross Catholic Primary School


Phonics at Holy Cross

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read and write by blending and segmenting individual sounds. It is vitally important that children know the sound each letter makes (and not just the letter name) and how it is visually represented. This is known as grapheme phoneme correspondence (GPC). Pupils also learn the sounds that can be made when different letters are joined together, for example ‘sh’ and ‘ai’.

At Holy Cross we are follow a Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) programme called ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds’. We believe a structured teaching of phonics is fundamental to pupils going on to become fluent readers and developing a love of reading. In our Nursery, we begin by encouraging children to explore and experiment with sounds, differentiating between sounds, becoming familiar with rhyme and rhythm and finally orally segmenting and blending words. Our structured programme of teaching continues in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. Any pupils still requiring support in Key Stage 2 also receive ‘catch up’ phonics sessions.

Children throughout Reception and Year 1 take part in daily Phonics sessions carried out by trained members of staff. These sessions focus on learning new GPCs (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence), decoding to read words and segmenting the sounds in a given word to spell. During Phonics lessons we also teach children to read and write ‘tricky words’. These are words that you cannot sound out and need to be learnt.

Pupils will read books matched to their phonic knowledge both in school and at home. They will reread books to increase phonic knowledge, fluency and understanding. These sessions take place in small groups in school and are carried out by trained members of staff. Pupils then have the chance to read these books at home, showing their carers and families how much they have learnt in school. Pupils also will choose a free choice book to read at home to develop a love of reading.

Key vocabulary:

Digraph – two letters make one sound (e.g. sh, ch, ai, ea, ou, ow).

Trigraph – three letters make one sound (e.g. igh, ear, air).

Split digraph – two letters make one sound but the letters have been split by another letter (e.g. a-e in cake)

Phoneme – a single unit of sound

Grapheme – a written letter, or group of letters that represent a sound.

GPC (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence) – knowing how to match the phoneme with the grapheme.

Blend – to put or merge the sounds together to make a word (e.g. the sounds d-o-g are blended to the word ‘dog’.)

Segment – to break down the word into its individual sounds to spell (e.g cat can be split into the sounds c-a-t.).

Sound buttons – ways of visually isolating different sounds in a word. We use a dot under letters where one letter makes one sound and a line understand digraphs or trigraphs.

Some useful websites: