English: Phonics

Phonics is the key to teaching every child to be a fluent and confident reader.


At Walmley Infant School, we believe that our children should develop a love of learning and show care and respect for each other within the context of a happy, secure and challenging learning environment.

The aim of teaching Phonics is to:

  • Increase sound to symbol recognition.
  • Build children’s concentration.
  • Improve vocabulary and language.
  • Develop the imagination of our children through learning to read.
  • Provide all children with a safe environment to learn.


At Walmley Infant School, we know that children need daily instruction through phonics teaching. Phonics lessons take place 5 days per week, first thing in the morning for 30 minutes. We start each day with a phonics lesson as we know that it holds the skills that the children need for the rest of their learning throughout the day. Children also need planned opportunities to practice what they have been taught. This is evident throughout the curriculum to enable children to become fluent readers.

We use Unlocking Letters and Sounds which was validated by the DfE in December 2021. We begin teaching phonics in the first few weeks of term 1 in Reception and children make rapid progress in their reading journey. Children begin to learn the main sounds heard in the English Language and how they can be represented, as well as learning ‘Common Exception’ words for Phases 2, 3 and 4. They use these sounds to read and write simple words, captions and sentences. Children leave Reception being able to apply the phonemes taught within Phase 2, 3 and 4.

In Year 1 through Phase 5a, b and c, they learn any alternative spellings and pronunciations for the graphemes and additional Common Exception Words. By the end of Year 1 children will have mastered using phonics to decode and blend when reading and segment when spelling. In Year 1 all children are screened using the national Phonics Screening Check. In Year 2, phonics continues to be revisited to ensure mastery of the phonetic code and any child who does not meet age related expectations will continue to receive support to close identified gaps.

For further details please see the Unlocking Letters and Sounds Summary Progression.


To ensure no child is left behind at any point in the progression, children are regularly assessed and supported to keep up through bespoke 1-1 interventions. These include GPC recognition and blending and segmenting interventions. The lowest attaining 20% of pupils are closely monitored to ensure these interventions have an impact.

Daily Assessment for Learning in classrooms ensures a keep-up approach. Teachers assess for any gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.

As a result of building letter to sound recognition through phonics, children will develop confidence, understanding and enjoyment for reading. Their ability to sustain concentration with varied texts will enable them to develop their vocabulary and language which will impact their learning in the rest of the curriculum.