Gurnard Primary School

Gurnard Primary School

Respect, Success, Belonging

  1. Our curriculum
  2. Phonics



At Gurnard Primary School, we believe that all children can become fluent readers. This is why we teach reading through the engaging ‘Song of Sounds’ scheme; a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We immerse our students in a vibrant learning experience that cultivates phonetic awareness and literacy skills. This journey begins as soon as children start in Reception and follows the Song of Sounds progression to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the alphabetic code, fostering a strong foundation for reading and writing success.  This programme is woven into our curriculum, creating an environment where respect for language, achievement in phonics and a sense of belonging to a community of learners are paramount. 

Song of Sounds is a multi-component, multi-sensory, phonics programme. It is teacher-led, hands-on and interactive, with a wide variety of games and activities that reinforce learning.

The scheme is divided into three stages. Stage 1 is taught in Reception, Stage 2 taught in Year 1 and Stage 3 taught in Year 2. The programme ensures that by the end of Stage 1, children are secure in the first 42 phonemes. In Stage 2, children are taught complex sounds and alternative spellings. In Stage 3, children move on to recognise further alternative sounds for graphemes. 

Below shows the phonemes taught in each year group:

Stage 1 (Reception) Phoneme Finder:

Stage 2 (Year 1) Phoneme Finder:

Stage 3 (Year 2) Phoneme Finder:

Tricky Words

Tricky words’ are words that cannot easily be decoded (‘sounded out’ and read). This is because some of the sounds in the words are spelled in an unusual way or children have not yet learnt the graphemes to decode them. It is important for children to be able to read these words as they are among the most common words in English. 

Tricky words are taught in a clearly-defined, incremental sequence and constantly revised and consolidated throughout the programme, below is the stage in which the words are introduced.


Stage 1 Tricky Words:

Stage 2 Tricky Words:

Phonics lessons

Phonics lessons are taught daily at Gurnard. Sessions are 20 minutes long each day and then once a week classes have a ‘Big Phonics’ lesson, which is an extended session that consolidates the learning and children have the opportunity to apply their phonics knowledge in a fun and interactive way. 

Phonics lessons are repeated for a second time later in the day to ensure all children are secure with the phonemes taught that day. Additional daily catch up sessions are also in place for any children that are identified as needing further support. 

The photos below show some children from Early Years and Key Stage 1 enjoying some of their interactive and fun daily phonics sessions.

Phonics Challenges

In Reception and Year 1, classrooms have a Phonics area and children are provided with daily and weekly Phonics challenges to complete. The challenges ensure children can apply and consolidate the Phonics knowledge that they have been taught. Some of these activities are completed independently whilst some are supported by an adult.

Big Phonics

Once a week there is a 'Big Phonics' session. This lesson is a chance for children to embed what they have learnt during the week but also revisits previously taught phonemes to ensure children are constantly reinforcing what they have learnt through the whole programme. These weekly sessions see children playing games and engaging in practical activities. It is a chance for them to develop and apply their reading and writing skills and increases confidence in their phonics ability.

Phonics – Inclusion

In Phonics, the daily sessions and the 'Big Phonics' starters are designed to be delivered to the whole class. This ensures an inclusive approach, as the class works together to learn new skills, led by the class teacher. A whole class approach to Phonics means that children's confidence and self-esteem is high. This is because children are taught alongside their peers and are assessed by their own class teacher (in contrast to children being withdrawn from the class and grouped by a variety of ages with different teachers and support staff).

The 'Song of Sounds' scheme is a multi-sensory programme, this means it is very hands-on and interactive with music, movement and practical activities. This ensures children enjoy the phonics learning process.

Stage 3 / Year 2 Progression