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Phonics and Early Reading

Our Phonics and Reading Leader is Clare Herbert.

Phonics and phonemic awareness

Phonics and phonemic awareness are taught in a structured programme in Reception and Year 1.  Phonics supports both the development of early reading skills and spelling. At Peartree, we draw upon Letters and Sounds as our Learning to Read programme. Phonics teaching is evident daily in class teaching, whether it is a direct teaching session delivered by the class teacher, a small group or 1:1 session. In EYFS, Year 1 and those pupils who need it in Year 2, we use a phonics-based reading scheme. 


The five key principles that underpin teaching in phonics sessions are:

  • Purpose - know the purpose of every activity and share it with the children, so they know the one thing they should be thinking about;
  • Participation - ensure every child participates through the lesson; 
  • Praise - ensure children are praised for effort and learning, not ability;
  • Pace - teach at an effective pace and devote every moment to teaching and learning;
  • Passion - be passionate about teaching so children can be engaged emotionally.


Beyond Year 1, phonic work is reinforced as part of daily English lessons. Pupils who need it attend group and one-on-one daily catch-up sessions. Those pupils who did not pass the phonics screening in Year 1, are well prepared to re-take the screening near the end of Year 2.


In Key Stage 2, some pupils receive precision teaching to support their word reading. This is one-on-one and is typically for pupils with special educational needs (SEND) and/or pupils with English as an additional language (EAL). Some pupils who join the school mid-year also need catch-up provision. Some of these pupils may be proficient in phonics but still struggle to read. For these pupils, one strategy is to build up their sight vocabulary, including common exception words.

Assessment of phonics and phonemic awareness

Children are assessed on entry to Reception (or when they join the school if after Reception), to provide the class teacher with a baseline assessment and to allow the children to be grouped in accordance with each individual child’s needs. Assessment of phonics is on-going and informs grouping and tracking of pupil’s progress. Where our assessments indicate  a pupil's phonics knowledge is not secure, we consider the need for further support and appropriate actions are decided upon.

Phonics Terminology Handout

Other Phonics Resources

Words which are not phonetically decodable

Alongside teaching phonics, we support pupils to learn the words which are frequently used in the English language. We call phonetically decodable words green words and tricky, non-phonetic words we call red words.


Once we have learnt red words off-by-heart, we learn other high frequency words (HFW). Some of these are phonetically decodable and some are not. Knowing these words as soon as we see them (by sight), helps us to read more fluently. We bring these flash cards home with our reading book and we are expected to practise them every day.