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Phonics / Early Reading

"Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language.
Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of individual letters and how those letters sound when they’re combined will help children decode words as they read.

Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing words."


In September 2022, Ashgate Primary School adopted the 'Phonics Shed' programme for the teaching of Early Reading.


We are working hard together to embed this into our pupils learning to give them the best start possible to their reading and writing journey.

The Phonics Shed:  Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP).

The scheme enables children to become fluent readers and writers by providing strategies to decode words by teaching links between letters and the sounds they can make; this is called Grapheme-Phoneme Correspondence (GPC).


Phonics Shed uses the blending and segmenting approach to teach children to decode words. Children are taught to blend sounds together to make words by using the ‘Sound it, Squash it, Say it’ technique. Then to segment words into sounds they are taught to ‘Say it, Stretch it, Sound it’.


The scheme is designed to run from the Early Years Foundation Stage (Nursery onwards) to Year 2 (P3) but can extend up to the end of Primary school for those children who need further support in phonics. It connects with the existing Spelling Shed scheme to ensure all relevant  curriculum objectives are met, while preparing the children for their Phonics Screening assessment using fast-paced progression through all common GPCs.


Children will be taught to read and spell a wide variety of words in a short space of time.

The initial stages of the programme not only introduce decodable CVC words but encourage children to attempt to blend and segment longer words. This is supported by a range of High Frequency Words (CEWs), including some partially-decodable common exception words (CEWs), which are linked to specific GPCs. These HFWs give children access to a wider range of texts as they account for up to 50% of school-based texts.


As the children work through the scheme, they also gain access to decodable alien words. The Phonics Shed alien words match the criteria given for those used in the Phonics Screening assessment resources.

Phonics Shed also aims to foster a love of reading and writing through its strong, character-based narrative and engaging, multi-sensory activities.


Joe is the first character the children will meet. The scheme comes with a puppet version of Joe and he has several of his own stories. He is a key figure in the scheme and acts as a guide from the very beginning, right through to the later Chapters.


Each grapheme-phoneme correspondence (GPC) has a character linked to it, including digraphs and trigraphs, as well as having their own supporting stories and associated actions to aid with consolidation. Most have accompanying songs based on common nursery rhymes too.


The 26 letters of the alphabet each have two formation characters linked to them, one for the lowercase and one for the uppercase. These characters are linked through the narrative as it is important to understand how they correspond in order to properly decode all text.


These formation characters are also used to support the teaching of digraphs and trigraphs. Digraphs and trigraphs have their own characters but the formation characters also appear on their flashcards, and often in their stories, to support consistent letter formation.