St Hilda’s CE Primary School

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Reading and Phonics


 We want every child to be a reader, to love reading and to want to read for themselves. We want our children to acquire a wide vocabulary, read fluently and with confidence in any subject by the time they are ready to move to secondary school. We recognise that each child has their own starting point upon entry to every year group and progress is measured in line with these starting points to ensure that every child can celebrate success.    

We follow the National Curriculum 2014 to deliver lessons rich in reading, and phonics through our whole school Systematic Synthetic Phonics programme and our Reading Spine, where high-quality texts are used to deliver all aspects of the English Curriculum. Each book on the Reading Spine has been carefully chosen to match the National Curriculum reading and writing requirements as well as linking to our wider curriculum, with history, geography, science and social themes specifically covered. This structure provides the children with a deeper understanding of texts.  We think it is important for our children to value the importance of reading to develop and enhance writing and to see a clear purpose and context for writing.   


We promote a love of reading in all children in a text rich environment where children understand how language works. We intend to develop the skills they need to be proficient readers and to interpret texts accurately. We aim to inspire and challenge our children, through a safe, happy and nurturing learning environment, to achieve excellent standards including all aspects of the National Curriculum objectives for reading.    

Implementation: Phonics  

Our approach is systematic, consistent and rigorous in order for all children to become readers as quickly as possible. We use the same phonics programme across the school providing continuity and a tool for guaranteed progression and to prepare and inspire our children for further learning in reading in secondary school and beyond.  

 Phonics The programme:    

  • Phonics is implemented through Essential Letters and Sounds. This programme was chosen due to its rigour and fidelity, providing our children with a fast paced, ambitious approach.  
  • The school has developed sufficient expertise in the teaching of phonics and reading that ensures consistency from one year to the next and there is a priority on CPD for all staff, including the use of ELS/DfE training portal and moderation.   

 The fundamentals:  

  • Children in Nursery are immersed in Foundations for phonics, delivered through taught sessions and in the moment through their play and storytelling.
  • The Phase 2 programme of teaching begins as children enter Reception.
  • We ensure the teaching of phonics is systematic and consistent across school. The lessons are always taught at a fast pace to ensure children are highly engaged for the sessions.
  • We teach phonics for around 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
  • Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term.
  • Phonics is taught in a whole class approach. Any gaps in knowledge are addressed through 5-minute boxes (additional to whole-class phonics sessions) from the start of the year in order for children to ‘keep up’ with their peers. Therefore, the children then move through the phase groups as one group together,  
  • We follow the Essential Letters and Sounds
  • Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy and begin Phase 5 in the final Summer Term.
  • Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words completing Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy


NURSERY Phase 1 Seven aspects:   

•  Environmental sounds   

•  Instrumental sounds   

•  Body percussion   

•  Rhythm and rhyme   

•  Alliteration   

•  Voice sounds   

•  Oral blending   


Autumn 1   

Autumn 2   

Spring 1   

Spring 2   

Summer 1   

Summer 2   

Phase 2   

Phase 3*   

Phase 3-4   

Phase 3-4  

Phase 4   

Phase 5 introduction   

YEAR 1   

Autumn 1   

Autumn 2   

Spring 1   

Spring 2   

Summer 1   

Summer 2   

Phase 5   

Phase 5   

Phase 5   

Phase 5   

all phases   


Assessment and extra practice:  

The assessment of pupils’ phonics progress is sufficiently frequent and detailed to identify any pupil who is falling behind the programme’s pace, so that targeted support can be given straight away and teachers and teaching assistants can provide extra practice throughout the day for the children who make the slowest progress  

Daily ‘keep-up’ lessons ensure every child learns to read.  

Any child who needs additional practice has daily ‘keep-up’ support, taught by a fully trained adult. ‘Keep-up’ lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources, and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning. This is extended into Year 2 and 3 for any children for are not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics Screening Check.   

In addition to ‘Keep Up’ sessions, there are opportunities for repeated practice throughout the day.   

The reading curriculum is ambitious for children with SEND and those who are disadvantaged.    

We use the  Essential Letters and Soundshalf-termly assessments  to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Keep-up resources – at pace.   

Regular progress meetings are held with all reading teachers in EYFS and KS1 to monitor children making the slowest progress.  Children in danger of falling behind, or who are working under expected levels (lower 20%), are swiftly identified and enough additional support is provided to enable them to keep up.   

If any child in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps.

These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least three times a week.  

Decodable reading books:  

We teach children to read through reading practice sessions usually four times a week. These:   

  • are taught by a  fully trained adult to small groups   
  • use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Essential Letters and Sounds assessments   
  • are monitored by the class teacher, who rotates and works with each group on a regular basis.  
  • Each reading practice session has a clear focus so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:  
  • decoding  
  • prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression  comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.   
  • In Reception, these sessions start in Week 4. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books.  
  • In Year 2 and 3, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.  

Reading at home:   

We intend teachers will give pupils sufficient practice in reading and rereading books that match the grapheme-phoneme. correspondences they know, both at school and at home  

Parents are helped to know how best to support children in learning sounds through our phonics workshops.   

Reading at home is strongly promoted.  Teachers ensure that children understand how to work appropriately with decodable books and with shared texts.  

Implementation: Reading skills and language comprehension:    

Reading isimplemented through a holistic approach, whereby children are reading across the curriculum. We focus on developing fluency, confidence, and enjoyment of reading.   

In all classes, there are daily opportunities for teachers to model reading, which gives the children the opportunity to understand what is being read as well as listen to excellent use of expression and intonation.  

There is a daily 15-20 minute story time usually daily, in each class where adults read aloud.  

Teachers use our reading spine, which has mapped core texts that promote children's understanding of vocabulary, grammar, the world and global events, as well as improve their ability to communicate effectively. There is a heavy emphasis on revisiting unfamiliar and new vocabulary to support children's language development.

We equip our children with a wide ‘reading diet’ so that they become well rounded readers and they can articulate their learning confidently and to remember knowledge and vocabulary in reading and phonics. We ensure that children with Speech, Language and Communication difficulties including those with ‘word gaps’ are given every opportunity to close the gaps with their peers and are able to expand their' vocabulary and deepen their understanding of the texts they are reading, through pre teaching and our learning experiences.    

Around school, you will see displays which celebrate books and authors who have inspired us. We have a well-stocked library which children enjoy using. In addition to this, throughout the year the importance of reading is enhanced through activities such as World Book /Poetry Day celebrations.  

Relevant, real, inspiring books  

We are always reviewing our library books to make sure that we are offering our children a wide range of books and stories, in different genres and by various authors. We pride ourselves on ensuring that children have access to books that are both 'Old & Gold' and 'New & Bold'.  

We read from and encourage pupils to read from our recommended book list that are appropriate for each year group.   

Early Reading:   

Reading is fundamental to the EYFS curriculum. Listening to stories, poem and rhymes feeds pupils’ imaginations, enhances their vocabulary and develops their comprehension. Systematic synthetic phonics play a critical role in teaching children the alphabetic code and, this knowledge is essential for spelling, and supports children’s early writing.   


In EYFS, throughout the day in play, through our in-the-moment approach to teaching and learning, and during story time, adults consistently model language, vocabulary, and syntax both from books and stories, seeking to introduce new and challenging vocabulary.  We will not shy away from words deemed ‘too tricky’.    Stories and books are evident in all areas of the classroom to support play-based learning.    

In EYFS, there are planned sessions where children are given 'Time to Talk' about books they have explored and enjoyed, either at home or school.  

In Reception, We Love to Read, is taught through a whole class, daily session. These sessions include best practice from Talk through Stories and ensure children have a firm understanding of basic comprehension, inference and vocabulary skills.   In the Reception classroom, there are also opportunities for children to blend and read simple words. This builds up over time and is linked to their cumulative phonic knowledge.  

In KS1 and 2. children are taught reading through a Whole Class Reading sequence, where they answer comprehension questions, linked to the reading domains. These questions require them to think deeply and connect their thinking to evidence from the text.  

The ongoing assessment of children’s reading progress is sufficiently frequent and detailed to identify any pupil who is falling behind. Where a child falls behind, targeted support is given immediately in line with our ‘Keep up, not catch up’ policy.    


Enable each pupil to be engaged in meaningful reading activities every day across the curriculum

Provide each Y1-6 pupil with demonstration comprehension and independent comprehension session using good quality reading comprehension sessions each week

Ensure we have a good knowledge of the text/ book prior to the session and have pre-read the text

Ensure all reading sessions are planned for and have an assessment focus using the Immerse and Analyse approach using reading domains

Ensure that texts are appropriate to the age and stage of the children

Plan questions which will develop all key areas of being able to read as a reader: e.g., comprehension, inference, deduction

Hear children in Foundation Stage read individually regularly per week

In both Nursery and Reception provide children with access to a variety of books inside and outside. Activities will be set up to include books to help and inspire children’s learning and adults will model how best to complete tasks/read for pleasure/use role play area

Regularly hear pupils from KS1-6 read individually and have their reading book changed regularly

Read to children regularly and have opportunities to experience demonstration reading will occur for a short part of that session

Ensure all children are to have a reading for pleasure session once a week to encourage enthusiasm passion, fluency and concentration eg DEAR Drop Everything and Read

Provide opportunities for cross-curricular lessons that regularly include a text based on the current topic

Encourage pupils to read out loud as often as possible with intonation, volume and with regard for the listener

In Key Stage 2, children undertake whole class reading sessions in their class. They meet a range of texts and have daily story, demonstration reading, demonstration comprehension and independent comprehension sessions, each week. They enjoy a wide selection of reading materials to choose from and projects linked to reading.   


We measure the effectiveness and impact of our English curriculum in a variety of ways. The quality of reading and writing in English is evaluated by learning walks, drop-ins, ‘pupil voice’ discussions, work scrutiny and summative assessments. This informs the subject leader of the impact of new initiatives as well as future areas for improvement. After monitoring, the subject leader provides feedback to the headteacher/staff and governors and identifies areas for development which is then shared with all staff.   

Children in our school will enjoy reading regularly both for information and for enjoyment. They will be able to discuss the books they have read with enthusiasm and recall details. They will be able to apply the features of different writing genres and styles to their own work and are able to write for different audiences and purposes. All pupils, including the weakest readers, will make sufficient progress to meet or exceed age-related expectations (where a pupil has an SEN that is hindering progress, expert advice is sought).  

The impact of the English curriculum is clearly developing with our revised way of teaching. There is evidence of progress, sustained learning and transferable skills and children are becoming more confident writers. By the time they are in Upper Key Stage 2, most genres of writing are familiar to them and they are able to apply the skills independently.  

  • Phonics teaching is strong, as a result of high-quality coaching and CPD.   
  • Children become fluent readers by the end of KS1.   
  • Children are passionate about reading. sharing their love of reading with family and friends.    
  • Phonics screening check results will be in line with or above national expectations  

  By the end of EYFS our pupils can:  

  • Demonstrate understanding of what has been read to them by retelling stories and narratives   
  • Use their own words and recently introduced vocabulary
  • Can anticipate – key events in stories
  • Can use and understand recently introduced vocabulary during discussions about stories, non-fiction, rhymes and poems and ding role-play
  • Can say a sound for each letter in the alphabet and at least 10 digraphs
  • Can read words consistent with their phonic knowledge by sound-blending
  • Can read aloud simple sentences and books that are consistent with their phonic knowledge, including some common exception words


  • Every pupil has learned to read, regardless of their background, needs or prior abilities
  • The school’s phonics and reading standards have matched or exceeded national expectations.       
  • Pupils have developed a wide vocabulary, language comprehension and a love of reading 


  • English will be assessed both formally and informally and using Assessment for Learning our planning will adapt to the needs of the pupils.  
  • Pupils will complete informal independent domain assessments at least half termly.
  • Evidence from independent and whole class reading sessions as well as written evidence from independent comprehension, cross-curricular reading opportunities, informal observations and the teacher’s professional knowledge should be used to inform lesson planning and interventions.

Summative assessment - Data collected: 

  • Phonics Assessment (half-termly)
  • Reading Test Scores (NFER termly)