Whitehall Park School
Contact Us 020 7561 0113
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Whitehall Park School
106 Hornsey Lane
N6 5EP

How we teach Phonics

At Whitehall Park School, phonics is taught as the main approach to early reading. Regular phonics sessions are taught every day. Initially each session is a daily 30-minute structured lesson in small groups, where the children have the opportunity to practice reading and writing.

We use the Read Write Inc (RWI) programme to support the teaching of Reading and writing, giving children a flying start with their literacy learning. RWI is a method of learning centred round letter sounds and phonics, and we use it to aid children in their reading and writing.

In phonic sessions children are taught to recognise letters, understand the sound they make and then blend them together to create words. Some words, which cannot be phonetically sounded out, are taught at each phase. These are ‘tricky words’ and are taught through sight recognition.

Children continue to apply their new knowledge of phonics, through regular interactive reading of texts with the teacher and their reading partner during the school day.

Oracy remains central to the teaching and understanding of reading, as children continue to extend their comprehension skills. During this crucial stage, great emphasis is placed on teaching children to use their growing knowledge of phonics and sight words to encourage them to read and write with increasing accuracy whilst developing their understanding of the writing process.

In 2012 a statutory check was introduced in Year 1. The check assesses phonics knowledge learnt in Reception and in Year 1. It was developed to help identify the children who need extra help with decoding and blending before they begin Year 2.

Phonics at Home

There are a lot of steps in the process of teaching children phonics. Here is a more simplified Parent Guide to RWI Phonics to help.

There are many great websites and apps to help support phonics learning at home. Here are some of our favourites used in school:

www.phonicsplay.co.uk – Buried Treasure, Dragons Den, Obb and Bob


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5J2Ddf_0Om8 – help with pronunciation


Phonics Vocabulary

Phoneme – The smallest unit of sound. There are approximately 44 phonemes in English (it depends on different accents). Phonemes can be put together to make words.

Grapheme – A way of writing down a phoneme. Graphemes can be made up from 1 letter e.g. p, 2 letters e.g. sh, 3 letters e.g. tch or 4 letters e.g ough.

GPC – This is short for Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence. Knowing a GPC means being able to match a phoneme to a grapheme and vice versa.

Digraph – A grapheme containing two letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).

Trigraph – A grapheme containing three letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).

Blending – This involves looking at a written word, looking at each grapheme and using knowledge of GPCs to work out which phoneme each grapheme represents and then merging these phonemes together to make a word.

Segmenting – This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes (sound talk/sounding out) that make it, using knowledge of GPCs to work out which graphemes represent those phonemes and then writing those graphemes down in the right order.

Alien words – These are ‘made up’ words which test children’s knowledge of known phonemes.

Read Write Inc. lessons

Children enjoy their RWI lessons immensely, rapidly learning a very complex alphabetic code which they apply to both reading and writing.  RWI teaching begins formally in Reception, with the aim that most children complete the programme by the Autumn term of Year 2.

Partner practice is embedded in every stage of the teaching cycle, ensuring children are given lots of opportunities to formulate and discuss their ideas, develop their comprehension and make links to their own experiences.  Fostering a love of reading is one of our core purposes and we use a range of high quality storybooks to make explicit links to the RWI text children are reading in class.

From the very beginning of the programme, children’s writing skills are developed through phonetic knowledge.  In Reception, children begin by practising forming written sounds (graphemes) and short, phonetically regular (green) words.  Children soon move onto writing short, coherent sentences and later, descriptive, imaginative compositional pieces of writing.  Lots of concrete experiences are provided during the teaching cycle to further support children’s writing, and the use of Read Write Inc. teaching strategies throughout the day reinforces children’s confidence in and enjoyment of literacy across the curriculum. To support your child with letter formation at home, these jingles may be helpful:

WPS Handwriting Script to help your child form letters