Dunchurch Infant School & Nursery

Phonics and Early Reading 



The school uses the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised approach to teach phonics throughout nursery, reception and year 1. This systematic, structured approach features on the DfE's list of validated phonics schemes and takes current research into cognitive science into account. All phonics teaching throughout school is well paced to ensure that children quickly learn to read by learning sounds and tricky words in a systematic and consistent way. This means that children are able to start reading words and sentences quickly – even as soon as learning their first four sounds! Children learn that sounds can be represented by graphemes (written representation of sounds) and how to blend sounds together to read words.

It is very important that phonemes (letter sounds) are pronounced correctly by the children, so that they don't encounter problems when blending to read words. Please see the links below to view the pronunctiation of sounds:

Phase 2 sounds taught in reception in the autumn term

Additional phase 2 sounds taught in reception in the autumn term

Phase 3 sounds taught in reception in the spring term 

Children in reception are quickly taught to blend graphemes to read words. You can see how we teach children to blend by viewing the video. 

Within the phonics lessons, children are also taught how to read 'tricky words'. These are words that, at the time of teaching, are not yet phonetically decodable. This video demonstrates how we teach tricky words in school. 

Children’s phonics knowledge across the school is assessed half termly in order to inform teachers planning and to check all children are making progress, those children who need support to keep up with their peers will receive interventions that may involve them working in a small group or individually with a designated adult. 

At the end of Year 1 children take part in the national phonics screening check.  Children are asked to read forty words, some of which are alien words.  The national expected level is usually to read thirty two out of forty words correctly.  Children who did not reach the exepected level will receive ongoing phonics support as they move into Year 2 and will take the phonics screening again a year later. 

A quick guide to alien words can be viewed here. 

The full range of graphemes taught to the children within their phonics lessons in reception and KS1 can be seen in the chart below:



Learning to read is a key life skill. By the end of Year 2, our children should be confident to select and tackle a wide range of age appropriate literature, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts. 


Reading lessons (reading practice) take place in reception and year 1 three times per week, in differentiated ability groups, focussing on: 

- decoding practise

- reading with prosody (reading with feeling and expression) 

- comprehension (taking part in book talk, predicting, making inferences and deductions, exploring vocabularying, stating personal opinions and retrieving information from the text)


Reading lessons in year two take the form of group reading twice and week in differentiated groups, with class guided reading sessions taking place three times per week. 


Your child will be taught to read whilst at school, but you can have a huge impact on their reading journey by continuing their practice at home. There are two types of reading books that your child will bring home:

1. A reading practice book - this will start to be sent home from reception and will continue throughout year 1 and year 2. Our reading practice books in reception and year 1 are from the Big Cat Collins reading scheme, the books are fully decodable and are alligned to our phonics progression. The book sent home will be at the correct phonic stage for your child. They should be able to read this book fluently and independently. If your child is reading the book with little help, please don’t worry that it’s too easy, your child needs to develop fluency and confidence when reading. Listen to them read the book and remember to give them lots of praise – celebrate their success! If they can’t read a word after attempting to sound it out and blending, read it to them. After they have finished reading, talk about the book together.

Children will remain reading the Big Cat Collins reading books aligned to the phonics progression until they are secure with the phonics expectations at the end of the first half of the autumn term in year 2. For some children, this may mean that they continue reading the Big Cat Collins books linked to the phonics progression further into their year 2 year.

Once children have achieved the expectations in the phonics progression, they progress onto reading books which contain more complex sentences and vocabulary. 


2. A sharing book - all children throughout school will bring home a sharing book, including Nursery. In order to encourage your child to become a lifelong reader, it is important that they learn to read for pleasure. The sharing book is a book they have chosen for you to enjoy together. Please remember that you shouldn’t expect your child to read this alone. Read it to or with them. Discuss the pictures, enjoy the story, predict what might happen next, use different voices for the characters and explore the facts in a non-fiction book. The main thing is that you have fun!