St James Catholic

Primary School

In the loving peace, justice and joy of Jesus, we achieve.

Bug Club Phonics

How do we teach phonics at St James'?


Children in Reception and KS1 are taught synthetic phonics through Bug Club Phonics, a comprehensive teaching programme and DFE approved systematic synthetic phonics scheme. The scheme follows a proven progression and has helped our children to make significant progress in Phonics and Early Reading at St James'. As well as helping children academically, we believe the lesson progression and books in our scheme also increase positive attitudes to reading for our children and enjoyment of reading right at the beginning of their reading journey.


Bug Club Phonics Teaching Approach

The Bug Club Phonics programme follows the teaching sequence of letters and sounds and lessons are structured in the same way each day with an introduction, revisit, teach, practise and apply element to every session, providing the children with consistent routines that they can become familiar with. The scheme  follows a programme where children are taught the phonemes (smallest unit of sound) and graphemes (number of letters that represent a sound in a word) through a series of phases. 


Each phonics lesson reviews previous sounds taught and then introduces a new sound.  The children learn how this is used in a variety of words, are taught how to segment the sounds and then blend them to read a word and then apply this understanding to spelling words. Nonsense words (alien words) are also taught as part of the programme which helps ensure our children are ready for the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check.


Throughout the programme, teachers supplement the provided materials and embed the taught skills through a range of activities that they have identified to be successful. The programme is highly interactive and uses CBeebies videos, interactive games and captivating reading through eBooks. This helps to secure essential phonic knowledge and skills as well as ensuring the lessons are fun, interactive and engaging.


Typically, Reception children will start at Phase 2 and move onto Phase 3  with most Year 1 children starting the year within Phase 4 and 5.  For those children in Year 2, their Phonics will continue through phase 5 and 6 where they will continue to review and learn new sounds while also focusing on their application of this through their spelling, reading and written work. Daily lessons include revision of the previously learnt sound, and also words that were read the day before providing consolidation. Children quickly move to reading captions and sentences and decodable readers are introduced at the beginning of their Phonics journey. Daily lessons are in short, discrete sections.


Phonics is taught in small groups where the children are grouped according to their phonic understanding. We find that this ensures children are taught according to their need and phonemic awareness. After each Phonics lesson, some children may then be identified to need additional one-one or small group support alongside these sessions. Where teachers’ assessments show that children need extensive support to catch-up, they are taught in smaller phonics groups targeted to their specific needs alongside extra intervention sessions and more frequent reading in the classroom.


Decodable Reading Books- Sent Home Weekly

It is crucial to allow children the opportunity to practise their blending skills and to consolidate their knowledge learnt in each phonics session. Alongside our phonics teaching, we therefore use the Bug Club Phonics decodable reading books that have been written specifically to match the order in which grapheme-phoneme correspondences are introduced in class. These books are fully decodable, which means that every word in the book can be read using just the children’s developing phonics knowledge. Children are sent home with two reading books per week, one for practising current sounds and one for revising previous sounds and to aid fluency. We ensure that the children's decodable books only contain sounds and words that have been taught to them, within our scheme. Not only does this allow children to embed and secure their phonics knowledge, but it also allows them to experience success and reading fluency. This in turn builds their confidence, motivation and enthusiasm for reading.