Teaching phonics & reading

Learning to read

Learning to read is a key skill and children of all ages read in school on a daily basis – whether they are sharing a book with an adult, reading instructions, or reading for pleasure. It’s really important that home and school work in partnership to help children learn to read.

Did you know?

  • Children who are read to regularly from a very young age can be up to 19 months ahead of children with no experience of books by the time they start school.

  • Picture books are crucial in helping children develop the ability to create visual images for themselves, and to develop comprehension skills.

  • Children who get into the habit of reading regularly by the age of 8 are more likely to continue to read for pleasure as they grow up.

Reading requires several skills: phonic knowledge, sight vocabulary and comprehension.


In school we teach phonics using the Letters and Sounds programme, supported by the use of actions, stories and songs from the Jolly Phonics Scheme in Early Years. As children move through the early stages of acquiring phonics, they practise by reading texts from the Jelly and Bean Series, Oxford Reading Tree Phonics/First Stories and Rigby Star Schemes.

Sight vocabulary

Not all words can be read using phonics, for example ‘was’ and ‘some’, so we also work on developing a sight vocabulary. Children are also at an advantage if they are able to recognise words that are commonly used ‘high frequency words’ as this aids fluency.


Being able to read is about more than being able to decode the words on a page, it’s also about understanding the meaning of text. When children are reading they are encouraged to ask and answer questions such as ‘what do you think will happen next?’, or ‘why do you think the author used that word?’ As children become more proficient readers they will be encouraged to develop an awareness of inference.


To support children as they develop these skills they can choose books from our Banded reading scheme. This has books from various published schemes including Rigby Stars and Oxford Reading Tree and is designed to give children experience of a variety of reading genres. There are fiction and non-fiction books within each level.

All children are encouraged to select books from the classroom, library or home to share with their parents to encourage a love of reading. We base much of our English work around reading for pleasure which seeks to enthuse children with a love of reading. In addition, we organise events such as meeting authors, celebrating World Book Day and participating in Readathons. When children are able to read confidently, with fluency and understanding, they are able to make their own choices from our book collection.

Children bring home the books that they are reading in school every evening and parents are invited to read with their children, encouraging them to develop the new skills they are learning, and to share with them the world of books. Children have a reading diary with their reading book. The teacher may write a short comment in this and it is hoped parents will use the opportunity, if they so wish, to write in it too. Older children will write their own comments, as we encourage them to develop their critical faculties.