Marsh Lane Primary School<

Marsh Lane Primary School

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Phonics at Marsh Lane Primary School

Early Reading & Phonics (Bug Club Phonics)

At Marsh Lane Primary School, we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We believe that phonics builds the foundations to create fluent readers and writers. We recognise reading as a key life skill, which underpins access to the rest of the curriculum. We aim for children to read words and simple sentences by the end of Reception, become successful, fluent readers by the end of Key Stage 1 and develop a lifelong love of reading as they move through the school. The systematic teaching of synthetic phonics, is given a high priority throughout Early Years and Key Stage 1.


At Marsh Lane we follow the DFE accredited scheme Active Learn Primary Bug Club Phonics. The programme is a balanced approach to the teaching of reading using systematic synthetic phonics. It simultaneously teaches the segmentation of words for spelling, and develops phonemic awareness skills. The programme is the product of seven years’ research in Clackmannanshire, Scotland, which produced remarkable gains in reading and spelling. Children are taught phonics every day for 20-30 minutes as a whole class. Children who are identified as needing a bit of extra support will have a catch-up intervention that day.

Phonics Workshop

A phonics workshop has been created virtually this year, please watch it at your convenience and if you have any questions please ask a member of staff.

Phonics Screening Check

In the summer term, Year 1 pupils complete the Government Phonics Screening Check (PSC). These are not formal and are administered by the class teacher. The screening is simply to test your child’s phonetical awareness and will identify whether your child needs additional support at this stage so that they do not fall behind in this vital early ready skill. The check consists of a list of 40 words, half real words and half pseudo words, the pseudo words will be shown to your child with a picture of an alien. We will let you know your child’s results by the end of the summer term. If you have any concerns, please speak to your class teacher or the phonics lead.

Phonics Vocabulary

Here is some key vocabulary you may hear your child using: 

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 of 1 or more letters.
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) eg. ch and oa.
Trigraph A grapheme containing three letters that makes just one sound (phoneme) eg. igh and air.
This involves hearing phonemes and being able to merge them together to make a word. Children need to develop this skill before they will be able to blend written words.
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. This is the basis of reading.
This is the act hearing a whole word and then splitting it up into the phonemes that make it. Children need to develop this skill before they will be able to segment words to spell them.
Segmenting This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes 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. This is the basis of spelling.
Adjacent consonants are two or more consonants that appear next to one another within a word and they represent a different sound. e.g. stop - the 'st' are adjacent consonants because they appear next to each other and they also spell two different sounds. /s/ and /t/

Half termly assessments take place through Reception and Year 1 to help inform future teaching and help identify children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge and need additional practice. Daily assessment of learning also takes place within the classroom so staff can quickly identify any children who are in danger of falling behind and provide the appropriate daily  intervention.

Phonics advice

It is important that you pronounce the phonemes clearly and correctly. This will help your child when they learn to blend the phonemes together. You will find the PowerPoint presentation below with the ‘pure’ pronunciation.

If you are learning a new phoneme with your child, ensure you say the phoneme over and over again with different a tone of voice so that they can really process it. Think of lots of words with that sound, that they know and show them pictures of those objects with the words written underneath.

When teaching your child to form a letter allow them to form the letter with a finger in the air, on the palm of the hand, on a rough surface like the floor, in paint, in the bath, glitter or sand. These fine motor experiences will need to come before trying to write the letter on a whiteboard or piece of paper.

If you are looking at a phoneme with your child, tell your child the phoneme but explain that the phoneme is represented by the letter and tell them the letter name. They need to be able to distinguish between phonemes and letter names.

Reading at Home

It is vitally important that you hear your child read every day. It is equally important that they read the same text at least 3 times. This will help your child to build their fluency when reading and develop their comprehension skills. Here is a video of a child reading the same text over the course of 3 days; notice how after reading the same book 3 times the child is beginning to recognise the sounds and words faster and has begun to develop some fluency already.

Useful websites :
Below is a list of websites that can support you and your child with their phonics:
Bug Club login page
Wide range of games for sounds, words and rhyming
Lots of free games for each phase, especially good for reading non-words. You can also subscribe to access more games
Search engine designed for schools where you can find a wide range of resources and activities with a phonics focus
Phonics advice and information about Bug Club
Top ten tips to help children enjoy reading