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Biggin Hill School, Bromley

Phonics and Reading

At Biggin Hill Primary School early reading is taught through systematic synthetic phonics. We follow the Letters and Sounds Programme which is supplemented with Read Write Inc resources, to teach letter formation, and Jolly Phonics songs and actions, to teach each sound.


Children in the nursery have access to differentiated phonics teaching at Phase 1 through short whole class sessions. In addition activities are set up within areas of the classroom; these have a phonics focus and help children to practise their phonics skills. All practitioners have secure subject knowledge of the Letters and Sounds programme and model oral blending, segmenting and rhyming regularly to secure children’s early skills.

Phase 1: This concentrates on developing children's speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for the phonic work which starts at Phase 2. The emphasis during Phase 1 is to get children attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.

Phase 1 is divided into seven aspects. Each aspect contains three strands: tuning in to sounds (auditory discrimination), listening and remembering sounds (auditory memory and sequencing) and talking about sounds (developing vocabulary and language comprehension).

By the end of the year, all children should be working securely within Phase 1 and be ready to start Phase 2 (this is introduced when children are ready to move on).


In reception children are taught phonics, following the Letters and Sounds programme, daily for 20 minutes. Each session consists of: recapping sounds that children have already learnt; introducing a new sound; learning the action and song; writing the grapheme; and playing i-Spy.

Phonics is taught as a whole class session and is eventually taught in streamed groups to accommodate children progressing through each phase at different rates. Interventions are planned for those children who require further support with securing their phonic knowledge at any stage.

Phase 2: Letters and their sounds are introduced one at a time. We have adapted the sets of letters is taught each week, in the following sequence:

  • Set 1: s, a, t
  • Set 2: p, i, n
  • Set 3: m, d, g
  • Set 4: o, c, k, ck
  • Set 5: e, u, r
  • Set 6: h, b, f
  • Set 7: ff, l, ll, ss
  • Tricky Words: the, to, I, go, no

Phase 3: By the time they reach Phase 3, children will already be able to blend and segment words containing the 19 letters taught in Phase 2.

Over the course of teaching Phase 3, twenty-five new graphemes are introduced (one at a time).

  • Set 8: j, v, w, x
  • Set 9: x, y, z
  • Set 10: zz, qu
  • Consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng
  • Vowel digraphs: ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er
  • Tricky words: he, she, we, me, be, was, you, they, all, are, my, her

By the end of the year all children should have completed phase 2 and 3 and be ready to start phase 4.

Year 1

Phonics is taught twice daily in Year 1 for 20 minutes. For the first phonics lesson children are taught in streamed groups; this focuses on a given sound. The second phonics lesson is taught with the whole class; the focus is on recapping the phase 3 sounds that they have already learnt. Sessions within class are differentiated to ensure pupils are reaching their full potential.

Phase 4 - No new sounds. The aim of this phase is to combine the children’s knowledge of previous sounds learnt and help them to read and write CVCC (lamp, desk, sink) and CCVC (frog, crab, swim) words.

Tricky Words: said, have, like, so, do, some, come, were, there, little, one, when, out, what

Phase 5: In Phase Five, children will learn more graphemes and phonemes. For example, they already know ee as in keep, but now they will be introduced to ea as in eat and e-e as in theme.

5a Sounds:

  • Set 1: ay, ou, ie, ea
  • Set 2: oy, ir, ue, aw
  • Set 3: wh, ph, ew, oe, au, ay
  • Set 4: a_e, e_e, i_e, o_e, u_e
  • Split digraphs: a-e (cake) e-e (theme) i-e (life) o-e (home) u-e (rule)

5b Sounds:

  • Set 1: Alternative pronunciations: i, o, c, g, u
  • Set 2: Alternative pronunciations: ow, ie, ea, er
  • Set 3: Alternative pronunciations: a, y, ch, ou
  • Tricky Words: oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked, could

By end of year all children should have completed phase 4 and 5 and be ready to move on to phase 6.

Year 2

Children who have passed the phonics screening check in Year 1 will move on to phase 6: this focuses on teaching spelling patterns and high frequency words. If children require further phonics teaching, this is taught in small groups following the Letters and Sounds programme. At this stage children should be able to spell words phonetically although not always correctly. In Phase 6 the main aim is for children to become more fluent readers and more accurate spellers.

By the end of the year all children should have completed Phase 6 and will continue working on spelling patterns as they progress through school.


Reading skills are embedded throughout the curriculum alongside the teaching of decoding. In early years and year 1 children read books linked to the phonics sound that they are learning in small groups or individually. During reading sessions children are given time to practise their decoding skills and show their understanding of what has been read through their oral responses to questions.

When children can successfully decode, they will begin to record their responses independently following input from the teacher in a guided group.

As they move through school children will move to whole class reading to further develop their reading skills. For whole class reading, children complete work based on the class novel, with linked texts to increase the variety of writing that children are exposed to. Children complete work based on core VIPERS skills: vocabulary, inference, prediction, explanation, retrieval and summarising.

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