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Phonics and Early Reading


Reading is at the heart of everything we do at Woodcote, and we believe it is essential children start off with the right building blocks. In September 2021, we introduced the ‘Sounds-Write’ programme as our new approach to teaching our children in EYFS and Key Stage 1 to read, spell and write. Sounds-Write is effective in teaching pupils to read, spell and write because it starts from what all children know from a very early age – the sounds of their own language. From there, it takes them in carefully sequenced, incremental steps and teaches them how each of the 44 sounds in the English language can be spelt.   

Find the video and leaflet below which will share with you more about Sounds-Write.  

What is Sounds-Write? Video

What is Sounds-Write? Leaflet

The Sounds-Write approach teaches the understanding needed to become an effective reader:  

  •     that letters are spellings of sounds: visual language is a representation of spoken language  
  •     that a spelling can contain one, two, three or four letters – examples are: s a t, f i sh, n igh t and w eight  
  •     that there is more than one way of spelling most sounds: the sound ‘ae’, spelt as in ‘name’, can be represented as in ‘table’, in ‘rain’, in ‘eight’, in ‘play’ and so on  
  •     that many spellings can represent more than one sound: the sound ‘e’ in head, ‘a-e’ in break or ‘ee’ in seat  

Reading and spelling also requires expertise in the skills necessary to make use of the alphabet code and pupils need to be able to:  

  •     segment, or separate sounds in words  
  •     blend, or push sounds together to form words  
  •     manipulate sounds: take sounds out and put sounds into words  

Sounds-Write provides opportunities for practising these skills on an everyday basis until pupils achieve the automaticity required for fluent reading and spelling.   

Please follow the link for our Phonics Progression document: Phonics Progression

Early Reading

In EYFS and KS1 children bring home books from school that we refer to as ‘decodable readers’. The books have been produced by Sounds-Write, Dandelion Launchers and Dandelion Readers and when read daily, help to consolidate and maximise the children’s understanding of phonics.  These books are fully decodable texts that build on the knowledge or ‘code’ that is being taught during Sounds-Write phonics lessons.  We also use them in our guided and shared reading.

Some of them will look like this: 

In EYFS the children will be learning the Initial Code. From Year 1 and in Year 2 the children will continue following the systematic phonics teaching but will work through the Extended Code – looking at ‘same sounds different spelling’ and ‘same spelling different sounds’. This will be when the children learn how to read and spell words using a variety of different alphabet code.   

The books are carefully graded with a step-by-step introduction to new sounds and spellings and provide children with opportunities to practice and consolidate their reading skills of blending and segmenting throughout the text as well as the opportunity to practice reading fluency.   

Most children in Year 2 have a secure understanding of a wide number of Sound Spelling Correspondences and are able to read books that contain more complex alphabet code. At this point, children will bring home a mixture of Sounds Write, Dandelion Readers and banded reading books.   

Our Phonics Books

We also believe that children need exposure to high-quality, rich texts to develop a love of reading and this is something that we want to promote at Woodcote. Children have access to class libraries and our school library (ran by our year 6 librarians) which are made up of collections of different books, for example:  

  •      Story books  
  •     Picture books  
  •     Traditional tales  
  •     Topic related books  
  •     Poetry books  

The children in EYFS and KS1 are also able to choose and take a library book home every weekend to share with their family and friends. The library books expose the children to a wide variety of topics and text types (fiction and non-fiction). They are aimed at providing enriched reading experiences that promote a love of reading.   

Our Library Books




Phonics Check

In Year 1 the children sit a Phonics Screening Check in June. The check consists of 40 words and non-words that your child will be asked to read one-to-one with their teacher. Non-words (or pseudo or alien words) are a collection of letters that will follow phonics rules your child has been taught, but don’t mean anything – your child will need to read these with the correct sounds to show they understand the phonics rules behind them.   

The 40 words and non-words are divided into two sections – one with simple word structures of three or four letters and one with more complex word structures of five or six letters. The teacher administering the check with your child will give them a few practice words to read first – including some non-words – so they understand what they need to do. Each of the non-words is presented with a picture of an alien, as if the word were their name (and so your child doesn’t try to turn it into a real word because it doesn’t make sense!).  

 Phonics Screening Check

Our Parent Phonics Screening Check information is available to read here: 

Phonics Screening Check Woodcote

How Can You Support Early Reading At Home?

Reading every day at home has the biggest impact on your child’s learning and progress. Please find below some suggestions that will support you with supporting your child.   

  •     Use letter sounds rather than letter names with your children at home. This will avoid confusion for the children and will reinforce the learning at school.   
  •     Avoid adding an extra vowel when pronouncing letter sounds, e.g. ‘buh’ ‘duh’. Please see this short video which shows the correct sound pronunciations: Correct Sounds
  •     When listening to your child read, encourage them to have a go at unfamiliar words by encouraging them to “say the sounds and read the word”.  
  •     Use some of the Sounds-Write phonics resources on this leaflet:Support with Reading
  •      Visit the Sounds-Write website for further information, support and resources: http://www.sounds-write.co.uk/
  •     There is an online course that parents can complete that is aimed specifically at parents and carers and will further your understanding of the Sounds-Write program and teaching. You can find the course by going to: https://www.udemy.com/help-your-child-to-read-and-write/
  •      If you have any questions regarding phonics please contact your child’s class teacher who will be more than willing to help support early reading at any time!

    Enjoying Books Together At Home

    It’s never too early to read stories with your child and spending just ten minutes every day enjoying books together can make a BIG difference to their development. Sharing stories boosts creativity and imagination, improves wellbeing, is a positive experience for parents, carers, guardians, grandparents – everyone! – and is great fun!

    From the World Book Day website


    Share a story together

    This link will also take you to beautiful books which can be read and enjoyed together at home, with a sign language option also available.

     Stories read aloud