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Holy Family Catholic Primary School

Early Reading & Phonics


At Holy Family, we use Unlocking Letters and Sounds as our phonics programme which was validated by the DfE in December 2021. Please visit the 'Overview' tab to the right to see the progression we follow when teaching phonics. 


At Holy Family, phonics lessons take place first thing in the morning for 30 minutes. All lessons follow the same structure of revisit - teach - practise - apply - revise.

We begin teaching phonics in the first few weeks of term 1 in Reception and children make rapid progress in their reading journey. Children begin to learn the main phonemes heard in the English Language and how they can be represented, as well as learning ‘Common Exception’ words for Phases 2, 3 and 4. They use these phonemes to read and write simple words, captions and sentences. Children leave Reception being able to apply the phonemes taught within Phase 2, 3 and 4.

In Year 1 through Phase 5a, b and c, they learn the alternative spellings and pronunciations for the graphemes and additional Common Exception Words. By the end of Year 1, our children will have mastered using phonics to decode and blend when reading and segment when spelling. In Year 1 all children are screened using the national Phonics Screening Check.

In Year 2, phonics continues to be revisited to ensure mastery of the phonetic code and any child who does not meet age related expectations will continue to receive support to close identified gaps.

Please see the tabs to the right for example plans and useful documents to support each phase.


To ensure no child is left behind at any point in the progression of this scheme, children are assessed short termly and supported to keep up through bespoke 1-1 interventions. These include GPC recognition and blending and segmenting interventions. The lowest attaining 20% of pupils are closely monitored to ensure these interventions have the intended impact.

Guided Reading

At Holy Family we promote a 'phonics first' approach and in our guided reading sessions at school texts are very closely matched to a child's current phonics knowledge so that every child can experience real success in their reading. In these crucial early stages of reading we use books from Ransom Reading Stars Phonics to ensure fidelity to the Unlocking Letters and Sounds programme we follow.


  • Phonics homework is sent home after learning each new phoneme to ensure it is consolidated. A Google Drive link is shared on each EYFS/Key Stage 1 Class Dojo page and children upload their homework to their portfolios.
  • We use ‘Collins Big Cat Phonics for Letters and Sounds’ books in our book scheme. Children are sent home with two books (one fiction and one non-fiction where possible) that match their phonic knowledge.
  • Word pots are sent home to support segmenting and blending. These are changed as and when the children are able to read the words with fluency.
  • ‘Common Exception’ word booklets are also sent home to support reading, spelling and writing.


Children’s progress in phonics and early reading is continually reviewed through daily assessment for learning, short-termly phonic assessments and evidence from their reading and writing. Through these, teachers identify which children would benefit from daily phonics interventions. Attainment in phonics and early reading is measured by the Phonics Screening Check at the end of Year 1 and using the statutory assessments at the end of Key Stage One. These results are measured against the reading attainment of children nationally. However, we firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments. By teaching high quality phonics and early reading, we give all children the opportunity to enter the magical worlds that books open up to them. We promote reading for pleasure as part of our reading curriculum. Children are encouraged to develop their own love of genres and authors and to review their books objectively. This enhances a deep love of literature across a range of genres, cultures and styles.