Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 follow the synthetic phonics approach, using the ‘Letters and Sounds’ framework, which we deliver through the Read, Write, Inc scheme. It’s an approach to teaching phonics in which individual letters or letter sounds are blended to form groups of letters or sounds, and those groups are then blended to form complete words. Parents and carers can learn more about Read, Write Inc here

Letters and Sounds is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous 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’ – words with spellings that are unusual or that children have not yet been taught. These include the words ‘to’, ‘was’, ‘said’ and ‘the’ – you can’t really break the sounds down for such words so it’s better to just ‘recognise’ them.

Nursery Phonics

Phase one begins in the nursery. This phase paves the way for the systematic learning of phonics. During this phase especially, we plan activities that will help children to listen attentively to sounds around them, such as the sounds of their toys and to sounds in spoken language. We teach a wide range of nursery rhymes and songs and read good books to and with the children. This helps to increase the number of words they know – their vocabulary – and helps them talk confidently about books. The children learn to identify rhyme and alliteration.

Reception Phonics

In Reception, the children will follow the letters and sounds phase 2-4 activities and fun games, through a daily phonics session and daily activities using their new phonic skills. The emphasis is on children’s active participation. They learn to use their phonic knowledge for reading and writing activities and in their independent play.

Key Stage One Phonics

During Year 1 the children work through the whole of phase 5, revisiting phase 4 as necessary.

In Year 2 they consolidate phase 5, revisiting difficult areas indicated by teacher assessment and progress to phase 6. 

Playing games on the computer can make learning phonics fun!

Here are some of the terms you may come across in our phonics work

  • vowels – the open sounds / letters of the alphabet: a,e,i,o and u
  • consonants – sounds/ letters of the alphabet that are not vowels.
  • blend – to merge individual sounds together to pronounce a word, e.g. s-n-a-p, blended together, reads snap
  • cluster – two (or three) letters making two (or three) sounds, e.g. the first three letters of 'straight' are a consonant cluster
  • digraph – two letters making one sound, e.g. sh, ch, th, ph.
  • vowel digraphs – two vowels which, together, make one sound, e.g. ai, oo, ow
  • split digraph – two letters, split, making one sound, e.g. a-e as in make or i-e in site
  • grapheme – letter or a group of letters representing one sound, e.g. sh, ch, igh, ough (as in 'though')
  • mnemonic — a device for memorising and recalling something, such as a snake shaped like the letter 'S'
  • phoneme — the smallest single identifiable sound, e.g. the letters 'sh' represent just one sound, but 'sp' represents two (/s/ and /p/)
  • red word - these words cannot be sounded out. "You can't Fred a red". These include words such as 'I', 'the', 'no'. 
  • segment (vb) — to split up a word into its individual phonemes in order to spell it, e.g. the word 'cat' has three phonemes: /c/, /a/, /t/


At Cavalry Primary School we believe that reading should be a fundamental part of childhood and a skill which should be developed to support lifelong learning.

Our aim is to develop and embed a strong, sustainable reading culture within the school community. Confident and competent readers will foster a love of reading through a rich and varied experience of texts, in which they are empowered to exercise freedoms of choice and independence.

We believe that a reading child is a successful child and that:

  • children deserve a rich curriculum which encourages extensive reading of books and other kinds of texts;
  • planning enables links across learning, which create a wide range of opportunities in which children can read for pleasure;
  • children will have the opportunity to experience whole books to support them in their understanding of literary structures and allow them to become absorbed in the story itself;
  • the active encouragement of reading for pleasure should be a core part of every child’s educational entitlement, whatever their background or attainment. Extensive reading and exposure to a wide range of texts make a huge contribution to students’ educational achievement;
  • children will be encouraged to read texts which reflect their own heritage and that  of other cultural groups. Children should be allowed to explore and engage with texts in their native language;
  • all children should have access to a wide range of texts in different formats and genres and support in enjoying them where necessary;
  • home-school relationships will promote the importance of all adults in fostering a love of reading;
  • professional development and support for teachers will be provided to allow them to explore the huge range of printed and electronic reading materials available and to enable them to support children in their reading choices.

The school has a commitment to evaluate the outcomes of this Reading for Pleasure statement and continually review practice to ensure all children become lifelong readers.

Cavalry Primary School’s reading pathway has been created using a mixture of published schemes, centred on Read Write Inc, Oxford Reading Tree and Rigby Star. When children begin to learn to read, books are carefully selected so that they are fully decodable (in other words they contain only the letters and sounds that the children have already been taught in school). During Year 2 and Year 3 children move onto wider book bands. These give a variety of fiction and non–fiction books to develop children’s reading range. Children learn to read at different rates. When a child moves from one level to another, a letter is sent home for parents to celebrate the progress made and make suggestions for helping the child at the next level. Once they finish the reading scheme, we encourage them to become ‘Accelerated readers’ and choose their own books from our school library.

Accelerated Reader

On leaving the Reading Pathway, children move to the Accelerated Reader programme. They take a computerised assessment (Star Reader) which assesses comprehension and vocabulary.  This provides a zone of difficulty within which each child can have free choice of books from the school library. Books within each zone are marked with a coloured sticker to help the children select books at an appropriate level of difficulty. Once the children have read each book, they can then take a computerised quiz to check the understanding and recall of the book. As they pass quizzes, the children are motivated by collecting points and working towards certificates.

Take a sample Accelerated Reader quiz here!

Download your guide to Accelerated Reader at the bottom of this page.

'The phonics lessons we observed together were interactive and fun, so pupils were interested and enjoying their learning. As a result, pupils' attainment in phonics continues to rise.'

Ofsted February 2019

Our children are encouraged to write for a range of audiences and purposes, and we provide a wide range of resources to support their natural enthusiasm for writing. From Nursery to Year 6, children experience the whole variety of shapes, styles and forms in which our written language is moulded.

In each year group children explore a range of genres and text types across the year, including fiction, poetry, information texts, dialogue and plays, biography and so on.

Teachers give guidance and instruction to children to improve writing skills. This includes grammatical accuracy and correct use of punctuation. We involve pupils in their own learning by sharing assessments with them, agreeing individual targets and sharing success criteria.

We also encourage them to present their work neatly and carefully.

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