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Our approach to early reading and phonics

The ability to read is key to pupils’ learning across the curriculum, their ability to be independent and their future life choices. Reading development is closely related to that of phonics, communication and writing. By reflecting upon and talking about the stories and texts they encounter, pupils are better able to make sense of their own experiences of the world and their place in it.


There is extensive research available on how children learn to read and how best to teach them. One of the most consistent findings from methodologically sound scientific research is that learning to decode words using phonics is an essential element of early reading (Hulme, C & Snowling 2013)

At Mill View Primary School we use a range of reading schemes that are book banded into colour bands and we use a synthetic approach to phonics to support the development of early reading.


Our Aims

  • To teach the essential skill of reading and develop this to a high standard for all pupils.
  • To promote a culture of reading for learning and reading for pleasure.
  • To benefit from a systematic approach to the teaching of phonics from entry to school
  • To have regular access to high quality phonics teaching which secures letter sound and word recognition whilst enabling children to read fluently, freeing them to concentrate on the meaning of the text
  • To enjoy a multisensory approach to phonics ensuring the visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning styles of children are engaged
  • To encourage children to attempt to spell words for themselves, within the range of their subject knowledge, by building an individual repertoire and the confidence and strategies to attempt the unfamiliar
  • To help children to use the skills of blending and segmenting in order to read and spell words
  • To facilitate independent learning and progress across the curriculum.


All phonics in EYFS and KS1 is taught following the Letters and Sounds scheme of work https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/190599/Letters_and_Sounds_-_DFES-00281-2007.pdf

This is taught using a range of resources and platforms to create a multisensory approach. Phonics is taught in short, briskly paced sessions (Review, Teach, Practise, Apply) and then applied to reading and writing in a meaningful context.


In the first weeks of Reception children are taught phonics as a whole class group to ensure all sounds are pronounced precisely. During this time a workshop is run for parents to support them in working with their children on phonics at home (power-point is available below). Children are assessed at the end of the first half term and from then on are taught in groups based on phonic knowledge and ability to apply. Pupils continue to be taught in ability groups throughout Key Stage 1 with regular assessments to ensure they are in the correct groups to ensure accelerated progress for high achievers and support for those who need reinforcement. Discreet phonics is taught 4 daily in ETFS and Key Stage 1 alongside ongoing reinforcement during English, Handwriting and other curriculum areas. Pupils who are not working at phase 6 of ‘Letters and Sounds’ by Key Stage 2 will be targeted in Years 3 and 4 for further phonics support.


All classroom environments have age appropriate displays concentrating on letter sounds and key words. At Mill View Primary School we provide ample opportunities to reinforce and apply acquired phonic knowledge and skills across the curriculum and in shared/guided reading and writing.


Our home reading books include those with purely phonetically plausible sentences which match the children's phonics phase and those which include more high frequency words. Once children are assessed as able to access Guided Reading in groups in Reception they use similar books but will usually read together a colour level above their independent reading level. This is done at least once weekly. Parents are provided with a guide on how to share books effectively at home to enhance reading (see below).


In EYFS and Key Stage 1 shared whole class reading is used to practise a range of reading skills together with a heavy emphasis on acquiring and understanding new vocabulary. Recent research shows that the breadth of a child’s early vocabulary is a strong indicator of future success and so we aim to widen our pupils’ vocabulary proactively as early as possible through the planned use of quality texts.


Our reading schemes include Oxford Reading Tree, Rigby Star, Collins Big Cat, Alphablocks, Storyworld & Phonics Bug.

Further reading about how you can further support early reading at home can be found by clicking the link 

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