At Burnside Primary School, we are committed to using the Sounds-Write (linguistic phonics) approach to assist the children from Reception upwards to learn to read, write and spell independently with accuracy, understanding and confidence.

The Sounds-Write approach ensures that:

-Children develop key concepts about the way English is written

-Children practise the skills essential for reading and spelling accurately

-Children learn the sounds and the spellings of English

A. Concepts


Through the sounds-Write programme, children will understand that;


Concept 1

Letters represent sounds. We remind children when teaching that letters do not ‘make’ sounds they represent them and, as teachers and teaching assistants, we are careful that, when we are teaching children to read, we use appropriate phrases to reinforce this e.g. ‘what sound do you say for this?’ (Pointing to letter or letters) not ‘what sound does this letter make?’


Concept 2

A sound can be spelled with 1,2,3 or 4 letters. The English language contains single letter spellings. For example, in the word ‘cat’ c-a-t. These are relatively simple to read and spell. However, many sounds are spelled with two or more letters e.g. oa in boat, ou in out and igh in high. These present more of a problem for a non-skilled reader and will need to be pointed out by the teacher and practised by the child. It is important to understand that letters don’t make sounds, they represent or spell them.


Concept 3

In English, the same sound is often written with different spellings (same sound, different spellings). In English, every sounds that we say can be represented by at least 2 different spellings. In many cases, the number of different spellings of the same sound is much larger; maybe 8 or 9! The sound ‘s’ for example is written in different ways in these words: Sat, city, voice, mess, house, listen, scent. There are 44 speech sounds and around 175 different ways to spell those sounds, using a combination of the 26 alphabetic letters. New readers must learn that there are more ways than one to represent the same sound so that they learn to look very carefully in order to spell well.

Concept 4 

In English, the same spelling can spell different sounds. For example, spells the sound /o/ in dog, /oe/ in go and /oo/ in do. Readers need to be able to swap sounds (phoneme manipulation) to read the word accurately if another possible sound for that spelling has been tried first.

B. Skills

1. Blending

Because words are composed of sounds, in order to read we need to be able to blend sounds together and at the end ‘hear’ a meaningful word. Daily practise in the SoundsWrite lessons will develop good blending.

2. Segmenting

Because the English written language is a sound > spelling code, it is important that children are taught to segment the sounds in words so they can read and spell with ease. Through segmenting children have the opportunity to notice the ways in which the individual sounds are spelled.

3. Phoneme Manipulation

Skilled readers are able to add, change or omit sounds in words and understand how this manipulation of sounds makes new words. This skill of phoneme manipulation is essential so that a new reader can swap sounds around to deal with same spelling different sound.

C. Code Knowledge

For skilled fluent reading, it is vital that children have a thorough knowledge of the spelling code of the 44 sounds of English. The code is taught through multi-sensory activities and lessons where the children are building whole words sound by sound, reading words and writing words. Initially, we work with words where the spellings are 1:1 (sound:letter). Later, we move to 2 letter spellings and we teach the spelling alternatives for the sounds. In each school year, we extend the number of sounds taught and also the number of spellings covered. (The order of teaching the sounds and spellings are included in the appendix.) Children need to be taught explicitly and extensively how the sounds of English are written. This teaching and learning should be repeatedly revised and reinforced during daily reading and spelling activities. The Sounds-Write programme is based on extensive research which has isolated and examined the processes involved in learning to read and spell. Each component of the programme is carefully designed so that the developing reader/writer can be guided by explicit instruction at every critical point. Through whole class instruction, extension activities, small group practice all children in our school will be equipped with the necessary concepts, skills and knowledge to become independent in reading, writing and spelling. As with all tasks, some children will learn quicker and some will need additional intervention, pre-learning and teaching. Each child’s progress will be commensurate with their level of ability.


Sounds Write Long Term Plan