Studham Village CE Academy

Caring to Learn, Learning to Care - All Flourishing as Children of God

Reading and Phonics

I opened a book and in I strode
Now nobody can find me.
I’ve left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.


I’m wearing the cloak, I’ve slipped on the ring,
I’ve swallowed the magic potion.
I’ve fought with a dragon, dined with a king
And dived in a bottomless ocean.


I opened a book and made some friends.
I shared their tears and laughter
And followed their road with its bumps and bends
To the happily ever after.


I finished my book and out I came.
The cloak can no longer hide me.
My chair and my house are just the same,
But I have a book inside me.

Julia Donaldson


At Studham, we know that learning to read is a complex process with a range of skills that must be in place to succeed.  As reading is the gateway to all other learning, it is given the highest priority in school and time is dedicated to sharing books through a daily story time in each class.


Our youngest children in Acorns are busy looking at books and listening to stories being read to them every day.  They are developing their phonological awareness through noticing words that rhyme, trying out alliteration and retelling stories in their play.  Our team are wondering what happens next in a story and our children are making suggestions based on their knowledge of the world and their imagination.


The children are using their listening skills to discriminate sounds in the environment and through playing musical instruments.  They may already know some letter sounds, for example in their own names or those of their friends and our skilled team support and develop this understanding in play and conversation.


Phonological awareness is essential for reading because written words correspond to spoken words.  Readers must have awareness of the speech sounds that letters and letter combinations represent in order to move from a printed word to a spoken word (reading), or a spoken word to a written word (spelling).  (Moats, 2010).


When children enter reception and join Oak Class, they already have a strong foundation and are ready to continue their reading journey. 


We use Supersonic Phonic Friends to teach phonics from our Preschool right through to the end of Year 2.  This programme is a fully systematic phonics approach based on Letters and Sounds and has been validated by the Department of Education.  Supersonic Phonic Friends was created by Phonics' expert, Anna Lucas and has illustrations that are beautifully designed by artist, Fiona Cameron.


The programme begins with Firm Foundations which is aligned to Phase 1 from Letters and Sounds and is used in our preschool.


The Basics, Phonics 2, 3 and 4 are taught in our reception class with the Higher-Level Phonics 5 being taught throughout Year 1.


To find out more, click on the link below to explore the website:


In reception we continue the children's learning journey by sharing and enjoying books with each other every day; individually, in small groups and as a whole class.


‘The frequency of reading to children at a young age has a significant, positive effect on their reading skills and their cognitive skills later in life. Research shows that there is a difference in reading performance equivalent to just over a year's schooling between young people who never read for enjoyment and those who read for up to thirty minutes per day’.  [OECD (2002) Reading for Change: Performance and engagement across countries p.16-17]


In the Early Years we are in a unique position of fostering this love of reading and supporting children as they learn to read to continue this lifelong relationship with books and reading.


Daily phonics lessons support the children to begin to sound out letters and blend them together to read simple words.  


Once we are sure they are confident with this process, we will begin to send books home that are matched to the child’s phonic knowledge so children can read with parents.  We use a reading record to track children's progress and ask parents to update this record every time they read with their child.   We will read all comments and answer any concerns or questions asked either in person or via the reading record.  We expect the children to read their book at least twice, ideally once at home and at school, before it is changed. 


We see parents as ‘co teachers’ in this process and know that reading at home leads to rapid progress as well as fostering children’s enthusiasm.  The comments made by parents in reading records are vital, enabling us to support children's learning at a personal level.


Children select their own reading books that are matched to their individual phonic attainment.  Research tells us that ‘engagement in reading is strongly correlated with reading performance….’ [OECD 2002, Reading for Change, Performance and Engagement across countries] so it is essential that our children are motivated to read as well as securing reading skills.  We use a variety of reading books to give the children a wide choice of texts; fiction, non-fiction, poetry and later in Key Stage One, plays. 


Towards the end of Year One, our children will take the statutory Phonics Screening Test where their ability to decode a range of words will be assessed.  The test is made up of forty words altogether, twenty of which are genuine words and twenty are nonsense or ‘alien’ words.  Any child that does not reach the required standard will take the test again the following year.


Children are assessed formatively during phonics and reading lessons and when participating in individual and guided reading.  High quality reading records are kept for every child so that teachers can track and plan effective teaching and learning.


Summative assessments are carried out each half-term to inform planning and any interventions that may be necessary to prevent children from falling behind.  Half termly pupil progress meetings where each child’s attainment is discussed ensures that teachers can share successes, talk over any concerns and devise support strategies if appropriate.


Guided reading takes place regularly in KS1 and KS2 and we use the SPIQ system to support children's learning and understanding.  The session is structured into four parts, Summarise, Predict, Infer, Question with the teaching and learning focused on each part in turn.


Children have additional opportunities built in across the curriculum to practise their reading skills so they recognise the importance of reading in accessing the rest of the curriculum and become familiar with Tier 3 vocabulary through topic work.


With a strong start in Reception and Key Stage One, our older children are reading more fluently and can interrogate the texts more deeply, drawing conclusions from the vocabulary and style of writing to develop comprehension skills. 


Many of our KS2 children are ‘free readers’ where they read books that are age appropriate but are not part of a reading scheme.  Our children are encouraged to talk about books they are interested in reading and their opinions are used to source additional books.