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Our Approach

#215 Developing Phonics – The Oaks Primary

What did we do?

The children joining us in reception typically have comparatively low starting points in terms of literacy, communication and language and, often, lack the phonological awareness we’d expect to see when they start school. Around half of the reception children who join us come from our school nursery, the other half come from other nursery providers in the area. The Chantry area of Ipswich, our catchment area, serves a predominantly disadvantaged community. Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI) data for our school shows a predominantly low socio-economic and financially poor background for the families we serve – between decile 1 and 3 on the index, where 1 is the most deprived. Our reception intake also typically includes a significant proportion of children for whom English is an Additional Language (EAL), currently approx. 25%.

We were keen, therefore, to find anything which helps children make progress in reception and into KS1. We chose to invest in Fast Phonics; one the newest and most innovative approaches to phonics support and intervention, which is aligned to the Department for Education’s Letters and Sounds programme.

‘Fast Phonics not only supports pupils to become better readers, it engages and excites them in phonics and reading too. Watching a child who isn’t a fan of reading, but lights up when they get to learn on Fast Phonics, makes it a brilliant intervention for us. Hearing parents discussing the app at the school gates and how their child is progressing is a thing teachers dream of, but that is very much a reality for us now!’

Megan Howgego

Steps taken

Initially, we spoke to the team at Reading Eggs regarding their Fast Phonics app. We identified that this was the best option for our school and would help the most effective use of the grant we received from Ipswich Opportunity Area; we purchased enough licences so that every child in our two reception classes had their own account. Once we had purchased the licences, we informed parents/carers via Tapestry (our online learning hub) of their logins and how to use the app. To ensure our children were able to work from home, especially during lockdowns, we offered help videos which allowed parents/carers to support their children; we had already checked that all the children in reception had internet access at home. This was further supported by the fact that the app can be used on mobile phones and tablets too. To effectively support their children it was important that parents/carers had some technical awareness; we had some one-to-one conversations over the telephone to ensure they were able to access the app and, therefore, effectively help and support their children.

Once lockdown ended we were able to get the project running within school. We also used the grant to purchase iPads specifically to use within the school for children using the Fast Phonics App; these proved invaluable as they allowed one member of staff to supervise 5 or 6 children at any time – usually at the start of the school day. Through the use of funded headphones too, we ensured that children did not disturb each other unduly. Being in school also allowed us to “bulk-out” the number of sessions each week for those children who were not accessing the app from home as frequently or where they were not making the progress we expected.

One of best things about Fast Phonics is the ability it gives us to monitor children’s progress through the programme. Staff, parents/carers and the children themselves can see their progress and the amount they access the app. The app is set up so that children reach “peaks”; we have included a certificate scheme so that we can celebrate success one children reach these peaks.

What would we do differently

In the future, we will get the parents/carers in to the school and talk them through the process and the app.


Our grant from Ipswich Opportunity Area covered the following:

  • Licence costs £660 for 60 children
  • iPad purchase £2961
  • Other resources £210

The implementation of Fast Phonics has been a huge success, we have subsequently allocated some of our school budget to ensure we can continue with the licencing moving forward.


The Oaks Primary School

Megan Howgego

Assistant Headteacher