Phonics and Early Reading

How we teach reading

Letters and Sounds Phonics and Reading programme

Learning to read is the most important thing your child will learn at our school. Everything else depends on it, so we put as much energy as we possibly can into making sure that every single child learns to read as quickly as possible.  We want your child to love reading – and to want to read for themselves. This is why we put our efforts into making sure they develop a love of books as well as simply learning to read.

At St Joseph’s we follow the Letters and Sounds phonics scheme.

Letters and Sounds is a progressive phonics programme for children aged 4-7.  This can continue into Key Stage 2 for children who are finding reading more of a challenge.  Letters and Sounds teaches children how to segment words and blend them back together. As the children’s blending skills improve their reading becomes more fluent.  We follow phonic led reading books which are decodable.  Re-reading books supports children’s fluency leading to expressive and enthusiastic readers.

Children are grouped according to their ability in Early Years and Key Stage 1 to ensure that teaching is matched to their level. Phonics in Early Years and Key Stage 1 takes place on a daily basis. Children in Key Stage 2 that still require phonics teaching, continue with a specially tailored Letters and Sounds programme to meet their individual needs. 


Shared Reading forms part of the daily phonics lessons and is led by the reading teachers. Each child reads for at least 20 minutes every day, in a small group with their reading teacher. All texts are linked to the child's phonic ability. Children enjoy one focus text per week and learning activities support accurate and fluent reading to facilitate comprehension. In addition, children take fully decodable reading books home to further practice skills learnt at school. These books are matched to each child's phonics ability and are closely monitored by the reading teachers to ensure that children are reading books of an appropriate level. 

Children are also assessed by the Benchmarking programme termly.  This is a diagnostic tool that identifies the child’s phonetic ability as well as their understanding of text.  Children are provided with a reading book based on this assessment and these are in levels 1-30.  These books often have tricky/non decodable words and therefore they are to be shared with grown-ups at home.  This supports their reading for meaning and comprehension skills.   

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How will my child be taught to read?

We teach the children phonics straight away in Reception. This means that they learn how to ‘read’ the (Phonemes) sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down (Graphemes). This is essential for reading, but it also helps children learn to spell well.

We teach the children simple ways of remembering these sounds and letters. Once the children have learnt to blend accurately, they start to read with fluency. This is achieved through speedy reading of individual words and repeated reads of their shared reading books. 'Tricky words' such as 'once' 'said' 'the' are not phonetically decodable and these are taught explicitly as part of the reading session.  

To develop the children's love of stories, we have dedicated story time, across all Key Stages, daily. The teachers read to the children, introducing them to a variety of stories, poetry and information books - and authors. 

Children who join the school throughout the year are quickly assessed in phonics and grouped according to their ability. Children in Early Years and Key Stage 1 are assessed and regrouped every half term to ensure they receive the correct level of support and challenge. If children are not where we would expect them to be at certain points in the year, they will have daily extra phonics practise with their phonic teacher, to secure progress. Every child learns to read and becomes a reader!

Useful Links 
Oxford Owl is a free website built to support you with your child’s learning.  You’ll find age-specific reading and maths tips and activities, eBooks, and lots of fun ideas to really bring your child’s learning to life.  You will also find support and advice on a range of questions you may have – including helping your child with their phonics, motivating boys to read and ensuring your child is doing their best in maths.
This website provides information about the national Bookstart scheme and the Bookstart packs that your child will receive as a baby, a toddler and at age three to four. It also gives information about sharing books with your child. You can find out about Bookstart events in your area, which you can attend with your child.

What can I do to help?

Read through our Top 10 Tips for Reading. Share books at home as often as possible and talk to your children about books that you enjoyed as a child. 

Mrs Slater is our Phonics and Early Reading Leader.IMG_E0785.JPG

"I am the Phonics and Early Reading Lead at St Joseph's and have worked at the school for 6 years.

I have a passion for developing children's reading and watching the journey reading takes each individual on. Picking up a book can take a child to many different places, from Hogwarts, to Neverland, to Narnia.  Reading allows children to explore the world and all its possibilities right where they are sitting.

Reading provides children with the opportunity to expand their imagination and share their thoughts and ideas.

I have always enjoyed reading and now having 2 young children of my own I see the value in my own home of sharing books with children from birth. I hope all our St Joseph's families join in the reading jounrney with their children and enjoy listening to their child's fluency, expression and confidence flourish."

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