Phonics/Reading Schemes

Good phonics teaching enables children to become fluent readers. Phonics helps children understand the alphabet and enables them to make links and progress in reading and spelling. It fosters speaking and listening skills.

Use of synthetic phonics

To achieve high quality phonic work we follow a systematic synthetic phonic programme as set out in Letters and Sounds (DfES, 2007).

With synthetic phonics children are taught to read and spell at the same time. They are taught to convert letters into sounds and then blend the sounds to form words. For example c-a-t = cat, or sh-oo-k = shook. It also teaches children to segment (pull apart) those sounds in order to spell. For example dot = d-o-t, or cheek = ch-ee-k.

Children are taught the sounds of the English language and other common ‘rules’. They are taught to understand the alphabetic code so that when they come across an unknown word they do not guess from context, picture, initial letters or word shape. They are explicitly taught to use their knowledge to independently and confidently work out new words.

After this they are explicitly taught spelling rules in line with the English National Curriculum 2014.

Overview of Phonic Phases

The Letters and Sounds programme is structured in six phases. The boundaries between the phases are deliberately porous so that no children are held back or unduly pressured to move on before they are equipped to do so. Letters and sounds enables children to see the relationship between reading and spelling from an early stage, such that the teaching of one reinforces the understanding of the other.  Decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling) are treated as reversible processes.

However, children generally secure accurate word reading before they secure comparable accuracy in spelling. It follows that the teaching of spelling must continue beyond phase 6.

The Teaching of Reading Skills at Molehill Primary Academy

Every child takes part in a daily reading skills lesson planned for by the teacher. The time of this may vary in Foundation stage but takes place for approximately half an hour every morning in KS1 and KS2.

The first step to ensuring an adult led reading session is effective is to make certain that the challenge of the book matches the reading ability of the child. When a child makes only one uncorrected error in every 10-20 words ( ie. reads at 90-94% accuracy), we say that this book is at an instructional level for the child. This indicates that the challenge is not so great that the child loses control and therefore meaning is lost, and not so easy that there are too few teaching and learning opportunities.

For planning purposes, the teacher should identify the learning objective for a reading session and be very clear about the Assessment Focus this relates to. This should be recorded on the Guided Reading Record. Comments are recorded on the rear of the sheet and should relate directly to this focus; remark upon the remarkable. This will then inform the following reading session as to aspects that need to be revisited or where children were secure and need moving on.

The Assessment Foci are as follows:

  1. Use a range of strategies, including accurate decoding of text, to read for meaning;
  2. Understand, describe, select or retrieve information, events or ideas from texts and use quotation and reference to text;
  3. Deduce, infer or interpret information, events or ideas from texts;
  4. Identify and comment on the structure and organisation of texts, including grammatical and presentational features at text level;
  5. Explain and comment on the writers’ use of language, including grammatical and literary features at word and sentence level;
  6. Identify and comment on writers’ purposes and viewpoints and the overall effect of the text on the reader;
  7. Relate texts to their social, cultural and historical contexts and literary traditions.

Our books come from a wide range of publishers and schemes but are banded according to the level of reading difficulty using the Better Reading Partnership guidance (although this is currently still linked to levels, it will be adjusted to reflect the new curriculum guidance on evaluating pupil progress.)

Guided reading book bands, word counts & NC levels

Band Colour Words NC level Years
Band 0 Lilac 0 (no words) R
Band 1 Pink A/B Under 25 Working towards L1 R
Band 2 Red A/B 25-45/45-80 Working towards L1 R, (Y1)
Band 3 Yellow 80-120 1C R, Y1
Band 4 Blue 100-200 1C/1B ®, Y1
Band 5 Green 200-300 1B Y1, (Y2)
Band 6 Orange 300-450 1B/1A Y1, Y2
Band 7 Turquoise 450-600 1A (Y1), Y2
Band 8 Purple 600-850 2C Y2, (Y3)
Band 9 Gold 850-1100 2B Y2, Y3, Y4
Band 10 White 1100-1500 2A (Y2), Y3, Y4
Band 11 Lime 1500-2000 3C Y3, Y4
Band 12 Copper Over 2000 3B Y3, Y4
Band 13 Topaz   3B
Band 14 Ruby   3A
Band 15 Emerald   3A
Band 16 Sapphire   4C
Band 17 Diamond   4B-5