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. Every individual letter makes a particular sound, for example the letter ‘s’ makes a hissing like a snake. Some combinations of letters make different sounds, for example, the letters ‘s’ and ‘h’ together make ‘sh’, a different sound which is like trying to quieten someone. At Holy Cross we follow the National Phonics programme called ‘Letters and Sounds’. This rigorous and structured programme of teaching is split into six phases that systematically build on the skills and knowledge of previous learning.

We start Phonics in our Nursery class with Phase 1 of the programme. We focus on children exploring and experimenting with sounds, differentiating between sounds, becoming familiar with rhyme, rhythm and alliteration and finally orally segmenting and blending words.

Children throughout Reception and Key stage 1 take part in daily Phonics sessions. These sessions focus on key reading skills such as 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’ also known as ‘sight words.’ These are words that you cannot sound out and children are just expected to remember how to read and write.

Children at Holy Cross are enthused and engaged through Phonics teaching which is multisensory and fun. This means children will learn using all their senses e.g. by singing, dancing, acting, using magnetic letters, making shapes in the air, looking at pictures, playing games, using computers, making sounds, making choices and as many other ways as possible. This is vital because all children learn differently.

At Holy Cross, we also use Phonics sessions to develop vocabulary by ensuring words are given a context and visual aids are provided to promote understanding of new language. Additionally, when we are revisiting sounds, words get progressively more challenging in order to continuously expand our children’s vocabulary.

Alongside the teaching of phonics, children have access to a language rich environment, where they are able to apply their decoding skills and develop language comprehension in order to read and develop a lifelong love of books with a wide range of genres and authors.

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, ure).

Split digraph – two letters make one sound but the letters have been split apart by another letter.

Phoneme – a single unit of sound

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

Consonants – b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z

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: