Our aim at Heathfield is to develop fluent, skilled and passionate readers as well as equip each child with the necessary literacy skills needed to express themselves creatively and imaginatively and to communicate with others effectively. At Heathfield, we are determined that every child can read and we adopt a ‘keep up not catch up’ approach to phonics and reading.


To teach phonics, we follow a bespoke Heathfield systematic, synthetic phonics programme based on Letters and Sounds. Whilst we recognise this not a validated scheme, it is in line with the validation criteria. Leaders have explored a number of validated schemes but feel the Heathfield model is the most effective for Heathfield children. 


As a result of the Heathfield approach, phonic data is at least in line with national and increasing each year. Leaders will continually evaluate the programme until 100% of children pass the phonic screener at the end of Year 1. 


 If children that have not passed the phonic screening check in Year 1, they will continue to receive bespoke phonic sessions and support until they are successful.

You must consent to the use of advertising cookies to allow this YouTube video to show.



In this part teachers revisit phonemes and tricky words the children have already been taught. This can be as simple as fast paced flashcards. Pupils also practise reading tricky words which have been taught so far.



Teachers introduce the new sound or tricky word. Adults use key vocabulary when teaching new sounds. (Appendix 1).  When learning new sounds, children rehearse the sound orally before seeing the grapheme. When children have been exposed to the grapheme, they will be taught how to write it. Pupils initially practise writing the letters using their fingers and practising on whiteboards in Reception, before moving to recording letters in books. In phase 5, new graphemes which make the same sound as previously taught sounds e.g. (ai and ay) are noted and explained to pupils.




In this part of the lesson, children practice reading and writing words containing the new sound. When reading words, children identify the phoneme or special friends first, before being asked to blend the sounds. Initially, pupils are taught to read each word by following the sound button cards. When pupils are confident at blending these words back together, teachers remove the sound button cards and ask pupils to read words quickly when words are presented to them. Finally, teachers present the words rapidly giving pupils practise at reading fluently. Throughout the practise element of sessions, teachers are assessing pupil’s ability and will continually revisit the practise element.


When pupils are confidently blending words for reading, they will practise segmenting to spell some of the words containing the newly taught sound. Teachers model to pupils how to use ‘sound talking hands’ to segment words in order to break them down into their constituent sounds. Pupils then practise recording these in their phonics books.



Children apply the knowledge of the sound through reading and writing words, captions or sentences. When reading sentences, the children are first asked identify any tricky words which are underlined as well as to spot the ‘special friends’ which are circled. Children, initially guided by teachers, practise reading each part of the sentence. Children may then practice writing a sentence containing the new grapheme. Over time, pupils will move from writing individual words to short captions, longer captions, short sentences and finally longer sentences. These are selected based on the pupils’ current phonetical knowledge.




Children areasked to recall the sound / tricky word they have learnt. This is because of the 'Recency effect' and supports with long term memory acquisition. 


 All children have a phonic passport to assess their phonic knowledge. This is updated every three weeks. This information is used to ensure children ‘keep up’ with year group expectations through additional phonic support such as Pinny Time and/or Phonic mentoring


All children will receive one book per week that has been carefully selected to ensure it matches to their phonics ability. This means children should be able to read this book with very little support-if any. All of the sounds and the majority of the words in the book have been taught to the children through previous phonics lessons.  It is important that children are given lots of practice reading books with sounds they have previously learned. All pupils are heard read on a one-to-one basis each week. In addition, pupils who

are assessed as being a priority reader will read at least three time a week. During these

sessions pupils reading is developed in three main areas; fluency, prosody and comprehension.



To improve the home-school reading partnership, all children in Reception and Year 1 will take home three reading books. A phonetically decodable book, a read together book and a class library book.



Alongside the phonics books, children will be given a book to read together with an adult at home. This means that the book is above children’s’ current reading ability so they will not be able to read the book independently. However, with the help of an adult, they will be able to recognise some tricky words and words containing sounds they know. It is important that children are not asked to guess the words they don’t know. If they come across a word they can’t read, adults can support them. 



Each child will also receive a library book to take home for a week. This will be a text that they choose and is to be read by an adult.