Phonics and Early Reading

Learning to read is one of the most important skills that your child will develop over the next few years. The more support and encouragement that you can offer your child, the more likely it is that he or she will make good progress.

At St Sampson’s we start our reading journey using phonics. Phonics means learning about the different sounds in the English language, and the letters and groups of letters that represent them.  Learning sounds and letters, and knowing how to blend sounds together is a key skill in learning to read.

Children use carefully chosen reading books during their phonics lessons, and they have reading books that they take home and bring into school that are matched to the sounds and letters they’ve been learning.

Floppy’s Phonics features the familiar characters from the Oxford Reading Tree series. It includes the characters of Floppy the dog, Biff, Chip and Kipper and their family and friends, which engages children fully for the phonics teaching and learning, vocabulary enrichment and language comprehension.

You can find out more about phonics, and how to help children at home, here:

Phonics and Early Reading

At St Sampson’s, everyone is committed to teaching all children to read. Teachers have an excellent knowledge and understanding of the processes involved to help children adopt a love for reading.

Our intention is for all children to have age expected phonics level at the end of Year 1 to help ensure that they can apply these skills to their reading in Year 2 and beyond. We achieve this by ensuring that all children in FS2 and Year 1 have daily lessons of phonics.


In our school we teach using the systematic and structure phonics programme ‘Floppy’s Phonics’ from Oxford Reading Tree. Floppy’s Phonics is a step-by-step synthetic phonics reading scheme. It introduces the children to the letters and sounds (the alphabetic code) that will become the foundation of their reading and writing.

Initially children's listening skills are developed through the use of music, environmental sounds and rhyme. During their journey through the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 they are taught the 44 phonemes (sounds) that make up all the sounds required for reading and spelling. These phonemes include those made by just one letter 's as in sun' and those that are made by two letters 'ng as ring’ or three letters 'igh as in knight'. 

Children are taught the key skills of blending sounds together for reading and segmenting (breaking up) words for spelling. 

As the children grow in confidence and experience, they are introduced to alternative ways of representing the same sound, eg 'ee' can be represented as 'ee, as in eel', 'ea as in eat', 'e-e as in compete' and 'e as in we'.

We ensure that our teaching of phonics is rigorous, structured and enjoyable. In Reception and Year 1, children have discrete, daily phonics sessions where they are introduced to new phonemes, explore, practise and revise previous learning and have plenty of opportunities to apply the knowledge they have. Children are taught in their mixed ability class groups.  We regularly check whether children have secure phonetic knowledge and do quick reactive interventions to fill any gaps in learning.

Reading is taught through mixed ability guided reading sessions and books are matched to the sounds that have been taught. We now have bought Hero Academy, Hero Academy Non-Fiction and Alien Adventure books that match our Floppy’s Phonics Reading Scheme. In addition, the children have Floppy’s Phonics Sounds books which focus on each taught sound and consolidate learning in class.

Children are continually assessed throughout their phonic phases and their progress is monitored throughout FS2 and Year 1 or until they have reached phase 6. Each phonics session in FS2, Year 1 is taught using the four part lesson structure (Recap, Teach, Practise, Apply). The recap part of the session uses ‘Speed Sounds’ where the children quickly recall all learnt sounds.  Phonics is taught at 11 o’clock everyday.

At the end of Year 1, children will be tested on their phonics knowledge, using the national test featuring 20 real words and 20 pseudo-words. Children in Year 2 are asked to retake the test if they did not pass it in Year 1.  In Year 2 and above, Intervention groups can be used to support children who are not making expected progress. These are taught by the Class Teacher or Teaching Assistants that have a good knowledge of Phonics.

This year, in Year 2 and 3, we use the Rising stars Spelling programme to teach spelling (this curriculum does include recapping previous phonics learning). We begin each session with the same phonics ‘Speeds sounds’ recap session. This quick recap helps to ensure that children’s phonic skills and knowledge is embedded in their long term memory.