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Hazlemere Church of England Combined School & NurseryGROW IN WISDOM AND STATURE, AND IN FAVOUR WITH GOD AND PEOPLE

Welcome toHazlemere Church of EnglandCombined School & NurseryGROW IN WISDOM AND STATURE, AND IN FAVOUR WITH GOD AND PEOPLE


Hazlemere Church of England Combined School

The teaching of early reading

As a school, we are committed to ensuring that every child leaves our school having achieved the expected skills in reading for an 11 year old. A secure ability in reading, alongside a passion for what reading can bring, is a fundamental entitlement for every child and will allow her or him to achieve well in all other areas of the curriculum throughout their schooling.

Our commitment starts from the moment that children join our school. In the Early Years Foundation Stage (Nursery and Reception) we base the teaching of reading on the following strands:

  • Sharing high quality texts with children to encourage a love of reading and to secure the important skills such as knowing how to read and interpret pictures, looking for clues in text, finding and enjoying patterns and rhythms in language and beginning to talk about what has been read, finding key details and making simple predictions about what might happen.
  • Encouraging children to select and read books from a wide and exciting range. This can include supporting children with storytelling with word less books, encouraging children to retell stories that they cannot yet read by looking at picture clues to help with the structure of the story and using technology to help children read a book independently by hearing the words through an audio device.
  • In Nursery and Reception we use the DfE guidance ‘Letters and Sounds’ to shape the teaching of phonics. In Nursery children undertake the first phase of phonics in which they are encouraged to differentiate between sounds so that they can later learn the 44 letters sounds. In Reception, this early teaching is developed further and children learn ‘synthetic’ phonics – the 44 letter sounds which are split into seven groups.

Understanding synthetic phonics:

  • The sounds are taught in seven sets in a specific order – which is not alphabetical. This enables children to begin building words as early as possible.


  1. S,a,t,I,p,n
  2. Ck,e,h,r,m,d
  3. G,o,u,l,f,b
  4. Ai,j,oa,ie,ee,or
  5. Z,w,ng,v,oo,oo
  6. Y,x,ch,sh,th,th
  7. Qu,ou,oi,ue,er,ar

The five key skills taught through our synthetic phonics programme includes the following:

  • Learning the letter sounds – children are taught the 42 main letter sounds. This includes the alphabet sounds as well as digraphs such as sh, th, ai and ue.
  • Learning letter formation – using different multi-sensory methods, children learn how to form and write the letters.
  • Blending – Children are taught how to blend the sounds together to read and write new words.
  • Segmenting – this involves children identifying sounds in words so that they have the best possible start for improving their spelling.
  • Helping children with tricky words – English contains a large number of regularly used words that don’t follow a phonetic patters. This words are learnt separately, alongside children’s acquisition of phonic skills.

Additional information

Letters and Sounds is a phonics resource published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of five, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven.



Phonic Knowledge and Skills

Phase One(Nursery/Reception)

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.

Phase Two(Reception) up to 6 weeks

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.
Phase Three(Reception) up to 12 weeksThe remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.

Phase Four(Reception) 4 to 6 weeks

No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.
Phase Five(Throughout Year 1)Now we move on to the "complex code". Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.
Phase Six(Throughout Year 2 and beyond)Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.



Useful resources:

Videos to help teach and learn phonics

For videos and resources please use the following link


A pronunciation guide for the phonemes can also be found using the following link:


A guide for helping parents understand why the pure pronunciation of phonics sounds is so important can also be found at: