Spelling & phonics at Harriers Banbury Academy

Intent, Implementation and Impact

At Harriers, we are committed to using the Sounds-Write Phonics / Spelling approach to assist the children from reception to year 6 to learn to read, write and spell independently with accuracy, understanding and confidence.

The Sounds-Write approach ensures that:

  1. A) Children develop key concepts about the way English is written.
  2. B) Children practise the skills essential for reading and spelling accurately.
  3. C) Children learn the sounds and the spellings of English.


Sounds Write has 4 main concepts:

Concept 1 Letters represent sounds NB: Letters do not ‘make’ sounds they represent them and, as teachers and learning support assistants, we should be careful that, when we are teaching children to read, we use appropriate phrases to reinforce this e.g. ‘what sound do you say for this?’ (Pointing to letter or letters) not ‘what sound does this letter make?’

Concept 2 A sound can be spelled with 1,2,3 or 4 letters. The English language contains single letter spellings. For example, in the word ‘cat’ c-a-t. These are relatively simple to read and spell. However, many sounds are spelled with two or more letters e.g. oa in boat, ou in out and igh in high. These present more of a problem for a nonskilled reader and will need to be pointed out by the teacher and practised by the child. It is important to understand that letters don’t make sounds, they represent or spell them

Concept 3 In English the same sound is often written with different spellings (same sound, different spellings). In English every sounds that we say can be represented by at least 2 different spellings. In many cases the number of different spellings of the same sound is much larger; maybe 8 or 9! The sound ‘s’ for example is written in different ways in these words: Sat, city, voice, mess, house, listen, scent. There are 44 speech sounds and around 175 different ways to spell those sounds, using a combination of the 26 alphabetic letters. New readers must learn that there are more ways than one to represent the same sound so that they learn to look very carefully in order to spell well.

Concept 4 In English, the same spelling can spell different sounds For example, spells the sound /o/ in dog, /oe/ in go and /oo/ in do. Readers need to be able to swap sounds (phoneme manipulation) to read the word accurately if another possible sound for that spelling has been tried first.

Sounds write also teaches 3 over-arching skills that form the foundations of our lessons:

  1. Blending Because words are composed of sounds, in order to read we need to be able to blend sounds together and at the end ‘hear’ a meaningful word. Daily practise in the Sounds Write lessons will develop good blending.
  2. Segmenting Because the English written language is a sound > spelling code it is important that children are taught to segment the sounds in words so they can read and spell with ease. Through segmenting children have the opportunity to notice the ways in which the individual sounds are spelled.
  3. Phoneme Manipulation Skilled readers are able to add, change or omit sounds in words and understand how this manipulation of sounds makes new words. This skill of phoneme manipulation is essential so that a new reader can swap sounds around to deal with same spelling different sound.


Early Years children:

Fostering a love of reading is a huge focus at Harriers Banbury Academy.  In Early Years we consistently encourage reading and the daily practice of reading within the structure of our day.  Every week, each child is read with individually 3 times minimum.  Children partake in daily phonics, and we also run second phonics lessons during the day to practise the skills that have been learned in the morning. We follow our scheme with fidelity, this is outlined below.

Phonics books are sent home every Monday that relate to the sounds that the children have currently been taught.  Children are only progressed onto a new book “level” once they have been taught the GPC that match the books.  We also send home a book for pleasure.  We value that whilst the children need to learn their phonics, they also need to engage in a love of reading that can be achieved through reading books for pleasure.

We follow the Sounds Write Scheme of learning.   Sounds Write is a validated scheme of learning. Within Sounds Write, we follow the structure that teaches the sounds across 15 “lessons” of learning.  There are 55 “units” in total that each have progressive sounds that the children are exposed to.   Each child is exposed to new sounds on a weekly basis.  The core concept of Sounds Write that makes it different from other schemes is that it teaches children the skills of blending; segmenting and phoneme manipulation rather than teaching sounds in isolation.  Children are encouraged to build and create new words using their knowledge of these three areas, and this scheme helps to progress the children from Early Years to Year 6.  If a lesson were to be observed, it would be noted that the children engage in active learning using post it notes that help to identify single sounds for blending and segmenting.  Children are strongly encouraged to “build” words, read them out loud and then write the word.

This is our structure for teaching the sounds.

Term 1  – Units 1-4

Term 2 Units 5-7

Term 3 Units 8-10

Term 4 Unit 11

Term 5 Unit 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Term 6 Unit 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22


Phonics across year 1 and 2:  Once a day phonics is streamed across year 1 and 2.  Whilst we may teach the same concepts and sounds to different groups, we ensure that the children are provided with the opportunity to work in a smaller group where the adult can provide more attention to their learning.

Year 1 also teach whole class phonics at a separate time in addition to this streaming.

Year 1:

In year 1, all children should be exposed to sounds from the initial digraphs, up to the alternative sounds for each of the 44+ sounds.  This is called the “extended code.”

There should be further lessons during the day where the core concepts of phonics should be taught, such as individual phonics intervention or writing lessons.  These are all taught with fidelity to the scheme.

Lessons 1-10 should be used from the SOUNDS WRITE scheme to provide variation when teaching the sounds.

In term 3, children will be exposed to pseudo words and will learn to read “nonsense words” using their phonics.  Whilst this is taught from Unit 5 in Sounds write, we also like to introduce words that are associated with the phonics screening check.

Phonics lessons should be taught with sound cards available to all children and post it notes (as per the SOUNDS WRITE scheme).


Year 1 progress from Unit 20 up to Unit 55.  They progress weekly if the children succeed at their current Unit.


Year 2:

Year 2 will teach daily phonics for term 1 and 2.  During those terms they will also compliment this with discrete spelling lessons from SOUNDS WRITE.  From term 3 to 6, daily spelling from Sounds Write should be taught to all children, and phonics streaming continues daily for those who still do not have security in GPC.

Lessons 6-14 should be taught across year 2.

Spellings should be selected from the year group spelling list and categorised into “sound or word families.”

Years 3-6.

Spelling is to be taught daily.  Spelling is to be taught discretely as stand-alone spelling lessons using the SOUNDS WRITE scheme of work.  Lessons 6-14 should be taught to provide variation across the lessons.

Spelling lists should be compiled using the word list for each year group and broken down into “word families” that ensure a progression when teaching.

Phonics intervention should take place to support those who still have a limited GPC knowledge.  The phonics lessons will follow the SOUNDS WRITE scheme of learning and use lessons 1-10 in the handbook.


National Phonic Screening:


All pupils in Year One will be screened using the National Assessment materials in Term 6, end of June. If the pupils in Year One fail the screening they will be retested when they are in Year Two. This data will be submitted to the Local Authority.

Pupils should be introduced to the vocabulary of the Screening Test in reception.  Towards the end of reception, the children should be shown the phase 2 – 3 nonsense words to practise to build awareness for year 1.  They will not be asked to do a formal test.

In year 1, the children should begin to practise for the Phonics Screening Test as of term 3.  See the glossary for the terms to use when discussing the test.


Resources and displays:

Each class uses post it notes to create the sounds / words that are being learned that lesson.  This is visible in every lesson.

There is a display in each class that details the sounds that have been learned in class.  This should reflect the sounds in the children’s books.

Children have sound cards available to assist in all areas of writing in and outside the phonics lesson.




Synthetic phonics – an approach associated with the teaching of reading in which phonemes (sounds) associated with particular graphemes (letters) are pronounced in isolation and blended together (synthesised). For example, children are taught to take a single-syllable word such as cat apart into its three letters, pronounce a phoneme for each letter in turn /c a, t/, and blend the phonemes together to form a word.

Analogical phonics – a type of analytic phonics in which children analyse phonic elements according to the phonograms in the word. A phonogram, known in linguistics as a rime, is composed of the vowel and all the sounds that follow it, such as –ake in the word cake. Children use these phonograms to learn about “word families” for example cake, make, bake, fake. This is more common in approaches that encourage spelling by rote.


blend (vb) — to draw individual sounds together to pronounce a word, e.g. s-n-a-p, blended together, reads snap

cluster — two (or three) letters making two (or three) sounds, e.g. the first three letters of ‘straight’ are a consonant cluster

digraph — two letters making one sound, e.g. sh, ch, th, ph.

vowel digraph — two letters which, together, make one vowel sound, e.g. ai, oo, ow

split digraph — two letters, split, making one sound, e.g. a-e as in make or i-e in site

grapheme — a letter or a group of letters representing one sound, e.g. sh, ch, igh, ough (as in ‘though’)

grapheme-phoneme correspondence (GPC) — the relationship between sounds and the letters which represent those sounds; also known as ‘letter-sound correspondences’

mnemonic — a device for memorising and recalling something, such as a snake shaped like the letter ‘S’

phoneme — the smallest single identifiable sound, e.g. the letters ‘sh’ represent just one sound, but ‘sp’ represents two (/s/ and /p/)

segment (vb) — to split up a word into its individual phonemes in order to spell it, e.g. the word ‘cat’ has three phonemes: /c/, /a/, /t/

VC, CVC, CCVC — the abbreviations for vowel-consonant, consonant-vowel-consonant, consonant-consonant-vowel-consonant, which are used to describe the order of letters in words, e.g. am, ham, slam.

Sound Button:  the term used to segment a single grapheme in a word.  Dots are used for phonemes and lines are used for digraphs.

Real Word:  the term used in the Phonics Screening Test for any word that you would find in the dictionary.

Alien word:  The word that indicates in the Phonics Screening Test that the word is not a “real word.”





Where next


19th – 20th March 2024: Ofsted Inspection Dear Parents and Carers, We are pleased to share positive comments from our recent Ofsted inspection and celebrate…

Harriers Banbury Academy is a GOOD school

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