Phonics and early reading

The Royal School Approach to teaching and learning Phonics and Early Reading  


All at the Royal School plan to teach phonics sessions so that they are: pacey, positive and purposeful. We are explicit in our teaching and practise, practise, practise to develop automaticity and confidence. Phonics is the prime approach to early reading and writing. Whenever children meet unfamiliar words either in reading or writing, they should be taught to use phonic skills and knowledge first to decode or spell the word.


How phonics is organised:

At The Royal School, we follow Lesley Clarke’s Abridged version of Letters and Sounds. We teach the phoneme/ graphemes in the order set out by Lesley Clarke’s Letters and Sounds and use the phases described.


As set out by Letters and Sounds, we expect:

Phonics in EYFS:

On entry into EYFS, children should be working at Phase 1. By the end of EYFS, children should have covered phase 2 and be secure at Phase 3.

Phonics in Year 1:

On entry into Year 1, children should be secure at Phase 3. By the end of Year 1, children should be secure at Phase 5.

Phonics in Year Two:

On entry into Year 2, children should be secure at Phase 5 and begin working within Phase 6. By the end of Year 2, children should have completed the Letters and Sounds Phonics Programme and be working on securing rules outlined in the National Curriculum.





Year 1

Year 2


Phase 1 and 2     

Phase 4/5          

Review phase 5 then Phase 6  


Phase 3

Phase 5

Phase 6


Phase 3/4

Phase 5

Phase 6


How we teach phonics at The Royal School:

  • We follow Lesley Clarke’s Abridged version of Letters and Sounds. We teach the phonemes in a specific order which are organised by Phase.
  • Teachers use the correct terminology when teaching phonics, such as ‘phoneme, grapheme, split-diagraph, blending, segmenting’.
  • Staff follow the daily phonics teaching sequence for at least 25 minutes everyday. Following the Covid-19 lock down, this may be more to cover gaps and ensure progress.
  • Lessons have a revisit- teach- practise and apply structure with new sounds introduced each week.
  • During the teach part of the sequence, teachers model oral blending and segmenting.
  • Teachers model using sound buttons.
  • Fun, multisensory and interactive activities. Teachers may wish to use the games ideas or use phonics play, songs or their own ideas.
  •  Children have opportunities to practise blending (recognising the letter sounds in a written word and then merging them in the order in which they are written, eg. c-u-p would blend together to make cup.) 
  • Children have opportunities to practise segmenting words (identifying the individual sounds in spoken words and writing down letters for each sound to form words.) To support spelling, teachers should use phoneme fingers to count the sounds in a word.
  • Tricky words are explicitly taught and children must be given the opportunity to prastise reading and writing.
  • We use mneomonics and actions to help children remember their sounds. These are lifted from Read Write Inc and we have added in additional sounds that were missing. To ensure consistency, we use the same sound mats and charts in each classroom.
  • The phonics sounds mats are used in class to support spellings and visible in all classrooms to refer to.



We report our phonics progress termly using the ‘Letters and Sounds’ phases. We use the phase assessment sheets saved on Teams to record progress for each child, using the same sheet but a different coloured pen for each term. These assessment sheets follow the child from Reception up to Year 3 in a class leaver arch file.

The phases that each child has completed are then recorded on a class phonics progress tracker saved on Teams. We collect phonics data half termly and it is tracked by the English Subject Lead

Phonics Screening Check in Year 1

Usually, the Year One children and some Year Two children (who did not achieve a ‘pass’ last year) are assessed in June using the national Phonics Screening Check which requires children to read real and nonsense words.  The results of these are reported to the DfE. The Phonics Screening Check comprises of 20 real and 20 monster words. The pass mark has been 32/40 since the test was introduced. Year 1 teachers and the phonics lead are responsible for using previous years’ practice papers to prepare their classes.


Phonics Screening Check in Year 2

Due to Covid-19 all year 2 children will be taking a phonics screening check in Autumn term of Year 2.

In previous years (before the disruption of Covid-19) Year 2 children who have not previously passed or taken the Phonics Screening Check must re-sit the check.

Early Reading

Our book band reading scheme is aligned to the letters and sounds phases and the books progress in line with the children’s phonetic ability and later comprehension skills.

Children’s reading books from the scheme match the phonics phase that they are working within.

Children read with a teacher or TA at least twice a week. 

Parents are encouraged to read daily with their children.

Children take home a weekly library book to enjoy with their family and read for pleasure.

We may PM benchmarking to find indicative reading ages and we use this alongside our phonics and reading assessments to moderate and ensure we are consistent in allocating book bands.