At Rise Park Primary and Nursery School we aim to achieve the highest degree of progress in pupils’ abilities through the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics which is consistent and cumulative. We strive to ensure that all pupils become successful, fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One and we believe this is achievable through a combination of strong, high quality phonics teaching combined with a whole language approach that promotes a ‘Reading for Pleasure’ culture.

Pearl Phonics

The Pearl Phonics programme provides a comprehensive step-by-step method for teaching reading, handwriting and spelling. Author Carl Pattison guides the teacher, and consequently the children, through a series of carefully designed phonics routines to master the complex English Alphabetic Code.


Each session is rich in content, providing phonics instruction and exercises with cumulative code (grapheme-phoneme correspondences-GPCs), words and short decodable texts. The children will develop their language comprehension and build up their knowledge of new vocabulary and spellings. Tricky words are also woven into the programme so that children can progress through the comprehensive set of Big Cat L&S Decodable reading books.


Pearl Phonics

  • Provides systematic and rigorous phonics teaching and practice with a rich vocabulary
  • Teaches handwriting linked to the English Alphabetic Code and the Alphabet
  • Applies and extends phonics to reading within the Launchpad Reading lessons and/or one-to-one reading
  • Involves and engages the learner.


Throughout Early years and Key stage One phonics is taught in a systematic way following the Pearl Phonics validated programme. It aims to build children’s speaking and listening skills, as well as prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting in Reception, with the aim that all children will be readers by age Seven. The dedicated phonics programme works alongside the decodable books which allow pupils to apply and practise their phonic knowledge.


The children learn phase 2-4 in reception and then delve into the complex code, Phase 5, within year 1.


In Reception, children experience a taught daily phonics session five times a week as well as being immersed in phonics throughout other subjects.  4-5 new phonemes (letter sounds) are taught per week and there is a focus on reading and writing it each day. Alongside this, high frequency words (tricky words) are incorporated in so that children can learn to read and recognise them. There is also time planned in to consolidate learning and further embed skills and knowledge.


In Year 1, the children have a taught daily phonics lesson five days a week in a whole class approach. The Pearl Phonics programme provides daily progression and ensures children are able to build on prior learning each week. The children are introduced to a number of new graphemes alongside common exception words (tricky words) that they are encouraged to both read and write in a variety of different ways.


We strive to create fluent, able readers who are confident and who show a love of reading. To help us to achieve this, we use decodable reading books throughout EYFS and Key stage 1. These are closely aligned to the letters and sounds phonics lessons that are delivered daily and are designed to allow children to read using the sounds and phonemes that they already know. When a child reads, if they struggle decoding words and cannot read fluently, then comprehension is lost. The decodable books allow pupils to practise the sounds that they already know whilst building confidence, understanding and fluency. Through reading these, all children achieve success and this in turn builds enthusiasm and a love of reading. The books are a combination of fiction, non-fiction and poetry to allow pupils to a wide range of genres and to broaden their reading library.


Alongside the decodable and book band texts, pupils have a choice book, which they choose purely for pleasure. Until they can read it for themselves, they will explore the pages and have it read to them. This aims to develop their love of reading but also enables pupils to widen their vocabulary and understanding of different texts. Pupils can self-select from mini libraries for their key stage as well as the classroom book corners, where there is a wide range of genres including fiction books, comics, and graphic novels, as well as non-fiction books, magazines and newspapers.


Pure Sounds

In school, we teach the children to use ‘pure sounds’, this means only making the actual sound the letter says, without adding an ‘uh’ on to the end. Have a look at the below video clips.

Phase 2 pure sounds

Phase 3 pure sounds

Phase 5 pure sounds


Grapheme mats with and mnemonic mats with a picture which matches the letter are used to support learning. Children refer to these mats during phonics lessons and also at other times when reading and writing.

Phase 2 And 3 Grapheme Grid

Phase 5 Grapheme Grid

Phase 2 Mnemonic

Phase 5 Mnemonic

Tricky words

Common exception or ‘tricky words’ are words where the usual spelling rule does not apply. As children come across unfamiliar spelling and sound patterns in tricky words, their phonics knowledge will not always help them to sound out and read the word; such as the common exception words “sugar”, “improve”, “climb” and “because”. We teach these words in a particular order which matches the pace and progression of our phonic programme.

Reception Tricky Words

Year 1 Tricky Words

Big Cat Collins Decodable reading books

We use fully decodable phonics books published by Big Cat Collins which enable children to practise their phonics skills, particularly the skill of blending. These decodable books follow the teaching sequence that is used in school, enabling us to ensure that children are only given books which contain the sounds and ‘tricky words’ that they have been taught and know. We encourage children to re-read their reading books numerous times to build up their fluency skills.


In school, we find that the children who read with a parent/carer consistently at home generally make faster progress with their reading and writing skills and have greater confidence and fluency. Please encourage your child to read at home at least 3 times a week. This will give them the necessary time to practise and consolidate their phonics knowledge and decoding skills.

What is the Phonics Screening Check?

The phonics screening check is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonics knowledge at the end of Year 1. It helps us confirm whether your child has made the expected progress, or if they may need additional support in Year 2. It is carried out in a friendly school setting with a familiar teacher.

What are pseudo-words?

The Phonics screening check contains a mix of real words and pseudo-words (or ‘nonsense/alien words’). Children are familiar with pseudo-words because we use them in daily provision in Year 1 and within the continuous provision in F2 during the summer term. They are important to include in the screening check because words such as ‘ult’ or ‘craint’ are new to all children. Children cannot read the pseudo-words by using their memory or known vocabulary; they have to use their decoding skills. This is a fair way to assess their ability to decode.

Throughout Year 1

At strategic points throughout the year, we assess the children on a previous screening check to gauge whether they are ‘on track’ or whether we as a school need to put extra support in place to help support individual children. We will let you know how your child is doing throughout the year and also how you at home can support them in their next steps.

Following the end of the Year 1 screening check, we will inform you of how your child performed. Children who do not reach the expected level in Year 1 will retake the Phonics screening check in Year 2. The screening check ensures that teachers understand which children need extra help with phonic decoding.

Useful Websites

Below are some websites that you may find useful at home with games, videos, information, print outs and e-books.


Letters and Sounds, English Games for 5-7 Years – Topmarks

BBC iPlayer – Alphablocks

Oxford Owl for School and Home

ictgames || html5 English Games Page

In addition, below is a link to a series of phonic videos to support children in developing their knowledge of Phase 3 – these are particularly useful for children in Reception.

The Literacy Advisor CP Education Carl Pattison – YouTube

Phonic Parent Meeting

Feel free to have a look through the PowerPoint from the Phonic meeting, particularly if you were unable to attend.