A Bug Club Phonics Case Study: Hillmead School

We visited Hillmead Primary School and spoke with Liz Gillson-Hill who has been a teacher in Foundation Stage for the last 10 years and a phonics subject leader and a phonics champion for 4 years. Her school started using Bug Club Phonics in September 2020. Find out more about how Liz and her pupils are finding Bug Club Phonics on this page!

Bug Club Phonics: An Introduction

This video is an introduction to Bug Club Phonics with Liz.

Part of the Bug Club family, Bug Club Phonics is one of the DfE’s approved phonics teaching programmes and aims to help all children in your school learn to read by the age of six in a fun and accessible way. Following its own proven progression, the whole school programme matches the National Curriculum and Early Learning Goals.

Classroom Resources

Find out what Liz thinks about our new classroom resources.

These resources are 100% matched to our Bug Club Phonics DfE-validated systematic synthetic programme progression and resources, meaning you can teach with flexibility and fidelity.

An SSP with the 'fun' element

Liz describes how Bug Club Phonics provides a really great fun element so children enjoy what they're doing every day! 

Interactive Digital Tools

Liz explains how Bug Club Phonics and its interactive digital tools support all children to read and write as soon as possible. 

We asked Liz some more questions!

Type of school: one-form entry

Region: Hertfordshire

Area type: town

Number of pupils: 283

Forms/classes: 10 classes; Nursery to Year 6 with two Year 5 and two Year 6 bulge classes

Ofsted rating and date: ‘Good’, May 2018

Pupil premium: 21

EAL: 43

SEND: 37

Phonics screening check result(s): 97%

I am the current Reception teacher and had successfully used Bug Club Phonics in my previous school and wanted the same results when I started my teaching here.  

Bug Club Phonics has a consistent approach and a progression that is very closely aligned with the Letters and Sounds 2007 order. I love the scope within the lessons to engage the children with Bug Club Phonics’ variety of resources, for example with its games.  

When children are in for the first full day/full week.

We deliver Bug Club Phonics via whole-class teaching. It’s one of the aspects of Bug Club Phonics that I love. Our teaching assistant sits with the lowest 20% at a table within the class, keeping them on track. 

We start with the Alphabet song and then a revision session where we can now use the new flashcards Bug Club Phonics has, as well as the revision materials on the website.

We then move on to learning our new sound with the video and follow up with the visual search element of the Asset Bank i.e. identifying where the sound is within the word. We often re-watch the video, pausing to identify whether the picture is showing the sound at the beginning, middle or end of the word and sound talk the word to match the picture.

After this, we move on to the Reading section of the lesson and practise writing the new sound.

We might read a book containing the new sound, spotting the new sound in the text and play a game or write a sentence.

The above takes between 30 and 40 minutes.

After lunch, we have a whole-class handwriting session using the worksheets from Bug Club Phonics. This takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

Any interventions needed are done in the afternoon with the TA, using the materials from Bug Club Phonics.

We ensure all children are sounding out and blending during the sessions and also use the support of the teaching assistant. We also look at placing children at risk of falling behind strategically on the carpet.

We keep them the same to offer that consistency important for phonics sessions.

We use the games and intervention guidance to keep up pupils who are at risk of falling behind.

Bug Club Phonics is amazing for parental engagement. All parents have access to the online Pupil World with eBooks and games that help their children practise what they have learnt that week as well as in previous weeks.

The children really enjoy the characters in Bug Club Phonics, the Polly Phonics videos and “Bug”. They also love the games. They enjoy the Alphabet song and reading the books.  

I like how Bug Club Phonics gives me flexibility without losing any of the rigour a validated systematic synthetic phonics programme should have. I feel it gives me the power to help all my children lay the foundations to be successful readers.

An interactive tool which supports teachers plan and deliver effective phonics lessons so that children have the skills to read and write words as soon as they are ready.