Reading and Phonics

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Reading underpins all other areas of learning and therefore we believe it is the most important gift we can give a child. We aim to provide high quality teaching, a range of fiction and non-fiction texts, cross- curricular reading and writing opportunities as well as other enriching activities that promote a love of reading, such as story tellers, poets and visits to the local library.

At Bentham CP School children are taught to read using the Government programme Letters and Sounds. It is a systematic and synthetic approach to the teaching of reading and writing, which enables children to blend and segment sounds. We supplement this scheme by using the mnemonics from the Read, Write, Inc reading scheme. Phonics is taught for for 20 minute each day. The sessions are fast paced and active, with children learning a new sound before applying it in their spoken language, reading and writing. Success is celebrated at every opportunity with our main goal being to develop confident readers who enjoy reading and writing. Letters and Sounds is particulaly effective as the individual needs and progress of each child can be identified through daily monitoring by all teachers and teaching assistants involved. The children have lots of other opportunities throughout the day to consolidate and independently apply their learning through reading and writing activities in English lessons and in Cross-Curricular subjects.

Letters and Sounds follows a six phase progression path, from Nursery to Year 1.

Phase 1- Activities develop speaking and listening skills by building children’s awareness of the different sounds within their environment, sound patterns and rhythms in stories. They gain familarity with books and have lots of opportunities to extend their vocabularly.

Phase 2- Children begin matching sounds with letters of the alphabet and blending these to read words. Children also begin to segment words for writing.

Phase 3- Children gain confidence blending and segmenting sounds and learn 25 new digraphs and trigraphs (two or three letters making one sound) for example ‘ee’ in the word ‘feet’. Children also learn to read and write words that don’t fit the phonetic pattern for example ‘we’, ‘she’.

Phase 4- Children do not learn new sounds in this phase but practise reading adjacent consonants such as: trap, string, scrunch and words of more than one syllable i.e ‘chimpanzee’.

Phase 5- Children learn alternative ways of making the same sound i.e feet, treat, Pete. Children continue to read and write words that don’t fit the phonetic pattern for example ‘people’.

Click on the following link to hear a guide on how each sound is pronounced 

In Year Two children will become more fluent readers and more accurate spellers. They begin following the No Nonsense Spelling Scheme of work which focuses more upon the application of spelling and grammar rules to writing.

As Letters and Sounds ensures holistic development of both reading and writing, children in EYFS and KS1 also take home reading and spelling activities that are related to the sounds they have learnt in school that week. Children in Key Stage 2 also have reading and spelling related homework.

Whole Class Reading

Children, in all Key Stages, take part in whole class reading sessions where the focus is upon comprehending a text. As a class the children explore together a range of books and extracts that are designed to develop their ability of extracting meaning from their reading.

In each session the children will focus upon one or more of the reading comprehension strategies: Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explaination, Retrieval, Sequence/ Summarise. On Monday and Friday these skills will be taught through the medium of an age appropriate class novel, where as in the middle of the week lessons will be based around a linked text. For example, it may be that the novel the children are studying is The Letters From the Lighthouse by Emma Carroll. Alongside this, the children may also be exploring a non-fiction text linked to the mechanics of a Lighthouse. This ensures the children experience a wealth of different genres and text types. Have a look at the attached documents below titled 'Reading Vipers for Parents'. These contain some really useful questions, that you could ask your child when reading with them at home to ensure they are comprehending and extracting meaning from each text.

Guided Reading

In the Early Years Foundation Stage and in Key Stage One, children take part in regular Guided Reading sessions. These are an opportunity for small groups of children to read a phonetically decodable book to an adult or with their peers. These sessions are designed to develop a child's reading fluency and embedd their phonetic knowledge.

Reading Plus

In Key Stage Two, children take part in Reading Plus sessions. Reading Plus is an adaptive literacy program that develops the fluency, comprehension, and motivation students need to be successful readers. It is an online program that tracks the speed at which children can read. It encourages them to read at pace whilst still comprehending meaning from the text. Just like with paper copy books, the program moves the children through books of progressive difficulty. 

Home Reading

All children at Bentham Community Primary School have the opportunity to take a book home to share with their family. In Nursery, this reading journey begins with our very popular Story Sacks. Each book comes with finger puppets or props to help the children act out the traditional tale and bring the book to life!

As children begin to read, they will start bringing home a range of range of texts from our school Reading Scheme (Oxford Reading Tree); this is a combination of fiction and nonfiction books placed into bands appropriate for your child’s reading development. 

Once a child is a competent reader and they can show fluency and a deep understanding of what they have read, they move off the reading scheme books and on to the Accelerated Reader Scheme. This scheme allows children to read a wide variety of both fiction and non fiction reading books to enable children to develop reading skills and broaden their experience of different texts.  These reading books are organised into 'Book Bands' which is a method used to group books according to their level of difficulty.  The children will move through the book bands as their reading skills develop.  After reading each book, they complete a quiz to demonstrate their comprehension of the text.  Children are encouraged to select books which cover a range of fiction and non fiction genres.


Our children also have access to our fantastic school library which has a wide range of different texts. We have recently purchased the program LibreSoft Librarian. This is an amazing resource which allows all children to have their own library card and login details so they can scan books in and out with ease! Being able to take a library book home is a great way of encouraging our children to read for pleasure. The children visit the library during lessons and can join the lunch time Book Club each week. 

Visits to High Bentham Town Library are also made every term. These provide further opportunities for children to develop their reading and ensure there is a vast wealth of high quality texts available for the children to read.

Recommended Reads

Take a look at the recommended texts for your child's year group: