Harpur Hill Primary School & Nursery

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Phonics and Early Reading

We use the 'letters and sounds' approach to learning phonics and our scheme is 'Jolly Phonics'.

Letters and Sounds aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of five, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven.




What Are Phonics Phases?

Phases are the way the Letters and Sounds Programme is broken down to teach sounds in a certain order. At the same time, whole words that cannot be broken down easily (we call them  'tricky words') are taught to the children.

Phase One (Nursery/Reception)

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.

Phase Two (Reception) up to 6 weeks

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.

Phase Three (Reception) up to 12 weeks

The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.

Phase Four (Reception) 4 to 6 weeks

No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.

Phase Five (Throughout Year 1)

Now we move on to the "complex code". Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.

Phase Six (Throughout Year 2 and beyond)

Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.

Jolly Phonics Scheme

You can find more information about the 'Jolly Phonics' scheme from the website link below:



What are 'Tricky words'?

Tricky words are words that cannot be ‘sounded-out’ but need to be learned by heart. They don’t fit into the usual spelling patterns. In order to read simple sentences, it is necessary for children to know some words that have unusual or untaught spellings. It should be noted that, when teaching these words, it is important to always start with sounds already known in the word, then focus on the 'tricky' part.


What are High Frequency words?

High frequency (common) words recur frequently in much of the written material young children read and that they need when they write.

The first 100 can be found by clicking the link below:

   First 100 high frequency words


Y1 Phonics Screening Check

Your child's phonic knowledge will be tested as part of the DFE national phonics screening check in Year 1. Some Year 2 children will also be re-checked if they scored below the national check mark the previous year (in Y1).

For more information, click on the image below:



Bug Club


Bug Club is a finely-levelled reading scheme, which ensures that all children can find books at exactly the right level for them. What’s more, there are online versions for every printed title and a personalised website for each child. 

For more information, click on the following links:- 

Bug Club explained

What is Bug Club

Book Band Levels Explained

Bug Club Troubleshooting 


Supporting your child with reading

Research shows that reading regularly at home as well as at school is the key to academic success. In Reception, your child will bring home high frequency words and early reading scheme books when they are ready. Please help your child to practise reading and encourage them. As children progress through Key Stage 1 and beyond, they will provided with a reading book from one of our schemes. 

You can help by hearing your child read at home daily (Reception to Year 2).  As your child becomes more independent, we would advise you to encourage them to read a wide range of books and other reading material.  

As a parent, you can ask questions about the story that your child is reading and this will help to develop their comprehension skills. 

Thank you for all your help with reading!