There has been a huge shift in the past few years in how we teach reading in school. This is having a big impact in helping many children learn to read and spell.

What is phonics and why is it so important?

One-to-one phonics work with children.

Phonics work with a small group to ensure rapid progress.

Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read. It runs alongside other teaching methods such as Guided Reading and Shared Reading to help children develop all the other vital reading skills and hopefully give them a real love of reading.

At St. Jude's, we use the Jolly Phonics scheme as the core of our teaching strategy.

What is Jolly Phonics?

Jolly Phonics is a fun and child-centred approach to teaching letter sounds through synthetic phonics. With actions for each of the 42 letter sounds, the multi-sensory method is very motivating for children and teachers, who can see their students achieve.

The letter sounds are split into seven groups as shown below.

Letter Sound Order

The sounds are taught in a specific order (not alphabetically). This enables children to begin building words as early as possible.

How does Jolly Phonics work?

Using a synthetic phonics approach, Jolly Phonics teaches children the five key skills for reading and writing. Complemented by Jolly Readers and Jolly Grammar, it provides a thorough foundation for teaching literacy over three years in school.

The order of Sounds and Blends we teach:

Jolly Phonics sounds and blends


  1. Learning the letter sounds - Children are taught the 42 main letter sounds. This includes alphabet sounds as well as digraphs such as sh, th, ai and ue.
  2. Learning letter formation - Using different multi-sensory methods, children learn how to form and write the letters.
  3. Blending - Children are taught how to blend the sounds together to read and write new words.
  4. Identifying the sounds in words (Segmenting) - Listening for the sounds in words gives children the best start for improving spelling.
  5. Tricky words - Tricky words have irregular spellings and children learn these separately.

Visit the Jolly Learning website (external link) for more information about phonics and for details about resources which you might like to purchase to help you child at home.

The video below explains how to make the pure sounds of each letter. Knowing how to make these sounds will help you to help your child at home:


As a school, we promote reading daily and appreciate the support that parents/carers give at home. Promoting reading at home is one of the most important ways that a child can be supported.

We try to encourage daily reading practise with our pupils.

Here are some tips to help children with reading:

  • When reading with a child, make the experience interactive. Ask questions about the story, discuss the pictures and what he/she thinks of the characters.
  • As their reading skills grow, gradually turn the tables until they're reading to you.
  • Use dictionaries together for difficult words - a picture dictionary can make exploring language more interesting.
  • Enrol children at the local library so they can access a variety of books regularly.
  • Keep an eye out for the themes that catch a child's imagination at school and help follow it up with more reading.
  • When coming across an unusual or funny sounding word, help a child find out what it means and revisit the word at different times.

Children love to share their books.

Every child in the school is provided with a book and diary. We ask parents/carers to make a note in the diary of the time spent reading with a child and perhaps any words he/she found difficult.

A new Oxford Reading Tree phonics based scheme of books has been introduced to school, to go along side our other Oxford Reading Tree books.

Lower down the school, pupils will also be given bookmarks which contain lists of words that they should be learning to read and spell.

We encourage our pupils to read a range of texts in addition to the reading books they are given at school.