Our Curriculum – Phonics


This page answers the following questions –

Which Phonics approach does North Nibley use?

What are phonics?

What is the Government’s Phonics Screening Check?

How do children progress through our Reading Scheme?


At North Nibley C of E Primary school we use a systematic phonics programme called Letters and Sounds alongside Oxford Reading Tree’s ‘Floppy Phonics’ which links to our reading scheme. ALL THE SOUNDS AND PHASES ARE LISTED BELOW.

Letters and Sounds is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. There are no big leaps in learning. Children have time to practise and rapidly expand their ability to read and spell words. They are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky words’, which are words with spellings that are unusual or that children have not yet been taught. When they are ready, children progress from books without words to simple stories with words and sounds. Progress from then on is usually rapid!

What are phonics? What are the phonic phases?

Phonics is the word used to describe the sounds the letters make. In simple terms, the word ‘cat’ can be read from its three sounds: c-a-t.

These are not the names of the letters as we say them in the alphabet, but the sounds these letters make.

Likewise, the word ‘thick’ is made up of three sounds: th-i-ck, where pairs of letters combine to make a single sound.

Similarly, ‘rash’ is made up of three sounds: r-a-sh.

At North Nibley C of E Primary phonics are taught proactively and systematically to children from the age of about five by showing them the sounds of the letters (not the letter names) and how these sounds can be blended to run together to make short words.

Former OFSTED director Jim Rose has said phonics – where children learn the sounds of all the letters and combinations of letters first – should be taught “first and fast” to young children.

The teaching structure for phonics runs over 6 phases – these are summarised below with approximate timings and age expectations. Please note that a ‘phoneme‘ is the sound of the letters and a ‘grapheme‘ is what the sound looks like when written down.



Below are example assessment sheets that can be used to support your child. Children are assessed at school and work is targeted to help them develop their phonetic knowledge. These sheets are not used by North Nibley but indicate the typical timescales and phonics groupings that your child will be learning. This work may be on-going well into the upper end of Key Stage 2 for some children so don’t worry too much if your child is not at the stage you think they should be yet as children develop their reading at different speeds.

“Mr Thorne does phonics” is worth searching out on YouTube.com  Supervision whilst on-line (as always) is highly recommended (see our page on staying safe online)  and you and your child can watch videos for the letters and sounds, and hear Mr Thorne (and Geraldine the giraffe) pronounce them correctly.

With all the increased focus on phonics and at such a fast pace it is important to also understand that children will only read when they are ready and that phonics alone will not produce fluent readers. There are many other strategies to help children read that we deploy in school and that you can do at home such as sharing reading every day. It is of the utmost importance that children do not feel pressurised or stressed if they cannot grasp these aspects of reading straight away – to become a lifelong reader who gains great enjoyment from reading takes time. Reading needs to be seen as a pleasure not a chore.

Phase2 Phase3 Phase4



The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check

This section is devoted to information on the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check. The information is useful for all parents to know.

The Government have introduced a Year 1 ‘Phonics Screening Check’ to ascertain children’s attainment in reading phonetically by the end of year 1. The check consists of 40 words. Some of them are known words (of which 40-60% are words that are likely to be outside a 6 year old’s vocabulary) and some are ‘nonsense‘ words that need to be sounded out by the child.

A sample of what the check will look like is shown here.



It is set at Phonics Phase 5 (see above). The mark at which children are said to meet age-related expectations is around the 32 / 40 mark, but this could change year on year. The check usually takes place in June and each pupil’s results will be included in their year 1 end of year report.

It is very important that the check is not seen as a ‘test’ and that children are not seen as ‘failing’ if they do not meet the expected mark. The school will ensure that those that do not reach the required level receive extra support and it will also help you focus support for their learning at home over the summer holiday in readiness for year 2.

Progression Through The Reading Scheme

The reading scheme is divided into different coloured ‘book bands’ . The following diagram shows the way in which the ‘average’ child progresses through the different texts, which are carefully graded to ensure that there is both success and challenge in each book. The colours relates to the Book Band principles. Many of the Oxford Reading Tree print runs retain the printer’s original colours, which predates the book band scheme. The schemes are not compatible. To remedy this, Oxford Reading Tree include a coloured dot on their later books and it is to this that you should refer.