Learning to read and Phonics at Berry Hill Primary School

Phonic and Reading Schemes used in Key Stage 1

  • Letters and Sounds
  • Pearson Reading Bug Club
  • Oxford Reading Tree

How will your child learn to read when they start at Berry Hill Primary School?

When we first start to teach the children to read, we use a Systematic Synthetic “Phonics” Approach. This means that the children learn through hearing the sounds of letters, then blending and segmenting them to read and spell words. Words are broken down into the sounds they're made up from and then these sounds are 'blended' together to make the word. So, for example, with 'cat', children learn the sounds the letters c, a and t make separately and then how they blend to say 'cat'.

Many of today's parents and grandparents previously learned to read whole words using the 'look and say' method.  Therefore, we have tried to explain how we teach reading today. 

How will phonics be taught in our school?

We follow the guidance set out in the Department of Education's own Letters and Sounds Teaching and Learning Resources.

Initially in Reception, we will start off with simpler single letter sounds (typically s,a,t,p,i,n) and then move to those which involve two letters such as 'oi', 'ou' and 'ai', or more e.g. 'igh', 'ough' or 'eigh'. Again, how quickly they progress through the sounds will vary. Sometimes we may set the children in similar ability groups from within the class, or across the Key Stage to meet their needs and teach a particular phase.

Phonics in KS 1 is carried out four times a week. Usually the children are set in similar ability groups for this. In KS 1, your child may bring home sounds to learn and practise. In KS 2 children continue to be taught phonics if necessary.

What about words which can't be decoded with phonics?

Along with learning phonics and blending words the children will start to read “Tricky Words”. These are words that are not able to be phonetically sounded out. As the children become more competent readers, they will not need to sound out all words they read and will be able to recognise some words instantly from sight memory.

If children find some words harder to read the pupils are encouraged to use other strategies. For example:  looking at the context, sounding out some of the word if part of it is regular and using that to try and work out the rest of it, and thinking of other words that look the same and using this knowledge to try and read the word. Your son or daughter may bring home lists of 'tricky words' to learn from school. These “Tricky Words” are also taught in phonics sessions.


As the children become fluent and develop a deeper understanding of what they have read, They may no longer need phonic books and core readers and will begin to take one longer more complex text. However, fluency is best developed by reading aloud; understanding and vocabulary are developed by talking about what they have read regularly.

How do I know if a book is too easy or too difficult?

We hope that your child will be able to read their individual reading book with an accuracy of 90%. If your child is really struggling, the text could be too challenging. Or if your child is unable to answer questions they may need a book that is slightly easier or may need help to locate the answers in the text.

You can always support your child by helping them read several words or read parts of the text to them. If your child is really struggling, praise them for their efforts and try to make it enjoyable. If your child is too tired, you could always read it to them.

If you would like more information about Reading please look at

  • Reading Progression
  • Reading Partnership
  • Reading at Berry Hill Primary School


If you have any questions relating to reading, please do not hesitate to speak to the class teacher.