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Reviewing your first term of phonics teaching

Dec 13th 2023

The nativity costumes have been dusted off and the sound of song practice will be filling the corridors but what about phonics teaching as our thoughts turn to more festive activities?

The first thing to remember is don’t stop teaching phonics. It is important to maintain the momentum you have built up and to keep the routines in place. Remember that every missed lesson adds up and before you know it, pupils are off track and you are struggling to fit everything in.

As we near the end of your first term of teaching phonics, here are some things to consider:

  • Are your EYFS pupils confident in blending CVC words? If not, then make sure you put in additional blending practice sessions (no more than 10 minutes) to ensure they are secure with this and ready to move on.


  • Have you started grouped reading sessions in EYFS? Once pupils are secure in their initial sounds then it is important to get them practicing in books that match their GPC knowledge. Not yet secure? Many SSP programmes also have wordless books which can be used to build pupils’ vocabulary, text understanding and comprehension skills.


  • Have Y1 started ‘Phase 5’ teaching? Many SSP programmes allow for some consolidation of previous teaching but the aim is for this to be brief before teaching new content. If some pupils still need support, consider an additional session to teach gaps or make use of your AfL when looking at flashcard revision. Remember than many of the words you are unpicking with these newer GPCs will still allow for plenty of rehearsal of previous learning.


  • Are Y1 pupils building their fluency or still reliant on overtly sounding out words? The aim of phonics teaching is to build pupils’ automaticity when it comes to word reading. If pupils are still being encouraged to sound out each part of a word before blending it (when they don’t need to) this will have an impact as texts become longer and when we consider end of key stage expectations. Particularly during revisit sections of your lesson, encourage pupils to read the word with fluency and train them into the habit of this. Don’t apply this to ‘nonsense words’ though. These words need to be segmented to avoid pupils misreading them and replacing them with a real word.


  • Have Y2 pupils caught up with any gaps from Y1? If not, it is time to look at a more intense intervention (following the guidance of your SSP programme). There is not the time to continue teaching whole class phonics when there is so much spelling content to deliver.


  • How are you teaching reading skills in Y2? You may have moved onto a reading programme which focusses on whole class texts but don’t forget that these pupils still need to build fluency and confidence when reading age-appropriate texts. They will still need opportunities to read out loud (as all pupils do) and will need reminders about decoding strategies particularly around longer words and alternative sounds. There will also be pupils who still need to read decodable texts so ensure they have books matched to their GPC knowledge as well as being exposed to wider texts in whole class sessions. Many SSP programmes have specific texts for Y2 pupils which are still decodable so it might be worth taking a look.


There are lots of points to consider when reflecting on your first term of teaching especially if you have started a new programme in school. Please seek advice from your SSP programme providers or contact your local English Hub Home – English Hub (englishhubs.net) if you need specific support.

We are also happy to answer any questions or offer free trials of our spelling and reading programmes which build upon phonics teaching.

Have a wonderful Christmas and look out for further posts in the new year.

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