Phonics and Reading

What is phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. They are taught how to:

  • recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
  • identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make - such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’; and
  • blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.

Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.

Why phonics?

Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7. Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment. Children who have been taught phonics also tend to read more accurately than those taught using other methods, such as ‘look and say’. This includes children who find learning to read difficult, for example those who have dyslexia.

Phonics at Thorogate School

Pupils who join Thorogate in the Foundation Stage will have already started to learn phonics and we build on this from the moment we meet your child.  We use Letters and Sounds to underpin our apporach and resource our pupil reading books principly from Oxford Phonics.

In Year 1, pupils are required to have the Phonics Screening Check to evaluate their progress in gaining phonic skills.  This check consists of 40 words which the pupils are required to read to their teacher.  Parents are informed of how many words their child read correctly and if they have met the required standard.  Pupils continue to learn phonics after this check, with additional support being given to those who found the check challenging.

Phonics continues to be taught until Year 6 in the form of spelling rules.


Reading is fundamental to accessing the currculum and at Thorogate we give reading a high status.  Through a mixture of individual and group reading we meet the needs of pupils so they build on their phonic skills to read with comprehension and understanding.  Home support for reading is essential and we expect parents to read with children daily.  Please complete the school reading records and return them to class.