Old Sarum Primary School

Phonics at Old Sarum Primary


At Old Sarum we aim for all children to become fluent readers by building on their knowledge of phonemes and their corresponding spelling. We want to equip all our pupils with a secure phonic knowledge that enables them to read and write successfully. Children will be able to apply their understanding of letters and sounds to decode a range of words which in turn will allow them to read books that are closely matched to their phonic knowledge. When writing, children will be able to make phonically plausible attempts at unfamiliar words, enabling them to write with an appropriate level of independence for their age.



At Old Sarum, we teach phonics using a phonics programme called Sounds-Write. Sounds-Write: is a highly structured, multi-sensory approach to teaching children phonics. It is a   linguistic phonics programme that teaches children 175 sound-spelling correspondences over YR to Y2 and beyond.  Rather than moving on to spelling rules, which have many exceptions and contradictions, children learn and apply more sound-spelling correspondences (the extended code) in their reading and writing.

The linguistic phonics approach looks at the relationship between the spoken language and the written word. Children will study three main skills to enable them to learn to read: blending, the skills of blending letters together; segmenting, separating sounds for spelling; and manipulating, swapping sounds to develop reading accuracy.  

The programme takes the children step-by-step through phonics, introducing them to the 44 different sounds in the English language and their different spellings gradually and systematically. The programme is highly specified and carefully sequenced, code knowledge is revisited so that it is taught to be remembered.   

Through the programme, children are taught four key concepts:

  • Letters are symbols that represent sounds
  • Sounds can be spelled using 1, 2, 3 or 4 letters
  • The same sound can be spelled in different ways
  • The same spelling can represent different sounds

Every day, children are taught the 3 skills required to learn to read and spell..

  • Blending – the ability to push sounds together to make a word
  • Segmenting – the ability to pull apart the individual sounds in words
  • Phoneme manipulation – the ability to insert sounds into and delete sounds out of words


Sounds-Write in Reception

Children in Reception begin with the initial code where they practice all three key skills whilst learning the 1:1 sound-spelling correspondences and securing their understanding of key concept 1.

This builds up confidence and phonic knowledge in a truly reversible system, enabling them to read and spell a wide range of words and sentences. At first, children learn to read and write simple one syllable words with a CVC structure eg pig, cat, sit.

Complexity of word structure systematically builds up so that children apply their code knowledge to monosyllabic words with up to six sounds eg strict, scrunch.


Sounds-Write Across the School

Once the initial code has been mastered, children continue to practice all three key skills through Key Stage 1 (years 1&2) whilst learning the extended code which explores key concepts 2, 3 and 4. Learning of the extended code is a lifelong process – we all continue to develop our understanding of this code whenever we encounter new words. Whilst learning the extended code, children read and write monosyllabic and polysyllabic words at an age-appropriate level.

Children in Reception and KS1 have a structured 20 minute phonics lesson every day, with opportunities for recap and review built in throughout the day.

More information on the Sounds-Write programme can be found here https://sounds-write.co.uk/support-for-parents-and-carers/ including a free online course aimed at parents.



Through the teaching of Sounds Write phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage 1.  The children read books in line with their phonics knowledge.  Children can then focus on developing fluency and comprehension throughout the school.  Embedding the alphabetic code early on means that children quickly learn to write simple words and sentences.  Attainment in phonics is measured by the phonics screening test at the end of Year 1 and ongoing assessment through the Sounds Write programme. We use Phonics Tracker to record assessments half termly.