Teaching Reading through Phonics


Within the West Exmoor Federation we teach children to read through synthetic phonics, a variety of different reading schemes where the books are levelled according to Reading Recovery Book Bands and through the use of high quality class texts.

Within the federation, we use a synthetic phonics programme called Letters and Sounds alongside the actions of Jolly Phonics.  Letters and Sounds is divided into six phases of learning, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. There are no big leaps in learning. Children have time to practise and rapidly expand their ability to read and spell words. They are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky words’ – words with spellings that are unusual or that children have not yet been taught. These include the words ‘to’, ‘was’, ‘said’ and ‘the’ – you can’t really break the sounds down for such words so it’s better to just ‘recognise’ them.

Phase one will have begun in pre-school. This phase paves the way for the systematic learning of phonics. During this phase especially, we plan activities that will help children to listen attentively to sounds around them, such as the sounds of their toys and to sounds in spoken language. We teach a wide range of nursery rhymes and songs and read good books to and with the children. This helps to increase the number of words they know – their vocabulary – and helps them talk confidently about books. The children learn to identify rhyme and alliteration.  Our daily phonics sessions in Reception and Key Stage One are fun, involving lots of speaking, listening and games. The emphasis is on children’s active participation. They learn to use their phonic knowledge for reading and writing activities and in their independent play and learning.

To support the development of phonic knowledge and nurture a life long passion for reading, we use a combination of reading schemes to guide our children through Book Bands. These include Oxford Reading Tree, Floppy’s Phonics, Ginn and Rigby Star, as well as banded 'real' books. These provide the children with a variety of fiction and non–fiction books to extend their reading range.

Within Key Stage Two our children continue their journey to becoming competent, life long readers. Once they finish progressing through Book Bands, we encourage them to become ‘free readers’ and choose their own books.

Parents/Carers are expected to read at home with their children on a daily basis and support the Home Reading Programme that rewards the children for reading at home on a regular basis.