Approach to Phonics and Reading Scheme

When a pupil is learning to read they are learning to convert the written words into spoken words and are then able to understand the meaning of what they are reading.  If they are unable to read one or more of the words then there are different methods of helping them to de-code what the word is other than simply telling them. They may

  • Find clues in the pictures and illustrations
  • Use their knowledge about the structure of phrases and sentences  (grammar)
  • Use the context of what they are reading to identify the word
  • Use their knowledge of spellings and sounds in the words and keywords that they can already read and spell (phonics)

The approach we use to teach reading at St Mary's  follows the THRASS programme. It is a fun way of teaching literacy skills which engages all of the learners.


THRASS stands for Teaching Handwriting, Reading And Spelling Skills.

  • THRASS is a whole-school phonics programme for teaching learners of all ages and abilities using pictures and keywords.
  • THRASS uses a blend of Analytic Phonics and Synthetic Phonics to help learners de-code new words. In Analytic Phonics, learners analyse lists of ‘whole words’ to look at the parts (usually ‘letter sound/s’ at the beginning and end of the words) Synthetic phonics requires learners to blend the phonemes (speech sounds) in words.
  • The THRASS programme helps learners to recognise the spellings and sounds in words. It teaches them about the 44 phonemes (speech sounds) of spoken English and the 120 graphemes (spelling choices) of written English.
  • THRASS teaches learners that, basically, when spelling we change phonemes to graphemes and when reading we change graphemes to phonemes.
  • THRASS requires learners to identify letters by name not sound so that they easily break down or blend the phonemes (sounds) of different one-letter, two-letter, three-letter or four-letter spelling choices.
  • THRASS uses a multi-sensory (visual, auditory and kinaesthetic) approach to teach meta-cognitive strategies (thinking skills) that empower learners with lifelong word-solving skills.
  • THRASS uses 120 keywords to help learners say the right sounds when they read (so that the words ‘Sound Right’) and choose the right letters when they spell (so that the words ‘Look Right’) These 120 keywords are laid out on a chart that learners use as a matter of course when they are reading and writing.

The programme is for learners of all abilities and ages, the gifted and talented as well as learners with special educational needs.

For more information, visit www.thrass.co.uk