Swaffham Prior C of E Primary School

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Our Intent 

Phonics is a key focus at Swaffham Prior for our early readers and writers. Ultimately, the aim is for children to be able to read and write effortlessly by recognising grapheme-phoneme correspondences so that they are able to decode when reading and apply their understanding of phonics and spelling rules to their writing. 

The Teaching of early reading and writing

The teaching of early reading and writing is taught through the Sounds-Write linguistic phonics programme. It begins with the sounds in the English language and moves from sounds to the written word, the theoretical underpinning being that children learn to differentiate between different sounds from a very early age and thus we allow children to progress from utilising their existing skills to developing new knowledge and understanding. 

The programme teaches all key elements of conceptual understanding, alphabetic code knowledge, and the three essential skills necessary for learning to read and spell.


 Conceptual Knowledge

1. Letters are symbols (spellings) that represent sounds.

2. A sound may be spelled by 1, 2, 3 or 4 letters

dog    street    night    dough

3. The same sound can be spelled in more than one way.

One sound - different spelling

rain     break    gate    stay

4. Many spelling can represent more than one sound.

One spelling - different sounds

head      seat     break



1. Blending - the ability to push sounds together to build words.

Example: c/a/t = cat

2. Segmenting - the ability to pull apart the individual sounds in words.

Example: Pig = p/i/g

3. Phoneme Manipulation - the ability to i nsert sounds into and delete sounds out of words.

Exmple: spelling <o> is it /o/ as in hot, /oe/ as in no, or /u/ as in son

Children develop a clear understanding of how the English alphabet code works through carefully structured, sequential steps from simple CVC words like ‘sat’ to very much more complex, five- and six-syllable words like ‘personification’. Daily, discrete sessions are taught progressing from simple to more complex phonic knowledge and skills and covering all the major sound/spelling correspondences until all children achieve the automaticity that underlies the fluency of every successful reader. 

Very often, in the early stages of learning to read and spell, because of the complexity of the code, pupils will not be able to spell some sounds using the correct spellings. However, pupils taught using Sounds-Write will be able to write almost anything they want to write by using plausible (phonetic) spellings for sounds. In this way, pupils, teachers and parents can read anything the pupil has written. As they progress through Key Stage 1, pupils learn systematically how words are spelled in English. 

The alphabetic code is split into two sections: the initial code and the extended code.

Teaching the Initial Code

At the start of the programme, simple, one sound/one spelling, one-syllable, CVC words only are introduced. As the programme progresses, the complexity of one-syllable words is increased to four-, five- and six-sound words of the structure CVCC, CCVC, CCVCC/CCCVCC, before introducing the most common consonant digraphs. The Initial Code is taught in Reception, but may be taught again through small group interventions as and when required. 

The Extended Code and Polysyllabic Words

Thereafter, from Year 1 onwards, all the remaining common vowel and consonant sound to spelling correspondences are taught until all the common spellings for the forty-four sounds in English have been covered. In parallel with this, pupils are taught how to read and spell polysyllabic words, progressing from two-syllable to five- and six-syllable words.

The extended code will have been fully taught by the end of Year 2 and for most children they will have acquired the knowledge and skills to be confident in applying the sound-spelling correspondences within their reading and writing. However, the principles of the programme will be/are used to teach spelling in Key Stage 2 in a format already familiar to children. For those children who require more practise with either the Initial or extended code, diagnostics tests are carried out and 1:1 or small group interventions organised, starting from where children’s existing knowledge and skills are. 


Please read the Sounds Write Parents Leaflet for further information which can be found here.