Reading and Phonics


‘People who cannot understand each other, cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate.  The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity’ – Neil Gaiman

 At Long Mead, we are passionate to inspire readers for life, to ignite in the children an intrinsic value for reading for pleasure that engages them with an understanding of the world around them and provides a spark to their imagination and creativity.  As such, we know that reading is a fundamental, enriching life skill. We aim for all children to be able to read fluently and confidently and have good comprehension skills by the time they leave our school. In order to achieve this, we use a variety of teaching methods and learning opportunities in all subject areas.  Every class focuses on a number of quality texts during the year.

In EYFS and Year 1, the children individually read levelled books, which are chosen by a staff member. In this way, they progress through a levelled book banded scheme, which includes texts from a range of publishers. These are organised into phonic phases in order to link closely with the phonics they are practicing and learning within their groups.

We actively promote the expectation that children read or are read to every night at home. Alongside their phonically decodable book and sound book for certain children, we also encourage children to choose books to take home from an early age to promote enriching reading experiences at home. To support the success of this, we focus on developing the children’s ability to select books that they might be interested in reading, so that they are actively engaged and stimulated by the content.  In addition, through regular communication, we promote to parents the importance of developing comprehension and understanding skills, as well as practising decoding skills, by spending time discussing the book with their child. It is important to us that we provide a range of fiction and non-fiction texts to develop an understanding of a text.  It is essential that children have regular opportunities to talk about texts, answer questions and develop their comprehension skills.

Central to our reading teaching and learning is the choice of high quality texts, which enable the children to practice their reading skills when reading independently, and extend their reading understanding if being taught in a whole class session or in a group.  Guided reading sessions are undertaken in the EYFS and KS1 classes as well as for some children in KS2 who still need this approach to progress their reading understanding. Throughout the school, whole class reading sessions are also used to teach reading strategies and comprehension, link reading and writing together, expose the pupils to a richer vocabulary, as well as exciting curiosity and inspiring questions from the content of the texts used.    In KS2, the structure of the Reciprocal Reading strategy is implemented across the week to teach reading. This enables the teacher to expose the children to a range of different text types, which may or may not reflect the current learning in the classroom. 


Regular independent reading opportunities take place, and in KS2 we continue from the children’s experience in KS1 to support children in the choice of their books. The independent reading opportunities may take a range of forms, eg silent reading, reading for pleasure sessions or group discussions. This is supported through our classroom libraries and access to our recently updated and improved library/computing suite. As with KS1 children, we promote the expectation that children have a reading experience every night at home.

Lastly, we believe it is important to have regular timetabled sessions across the week where the teacher reads a book to the class, promoting the enjoyment of reading, the importance of cultivating and being part of a reading community as well as extending the children’s knowledge of different types of writing.

‘The journey of a lifetime starts with the turning of a page.’ Rachel Anders




What is phonics?

Phonics is all about sounds and is a method of teaching children to read. Phonics works by breaking words down into its individual sounds, there are 44 sounds in the English language, which are put together to form words. Some are represented by one letter – which is known as a phoneme, some by two known as a digraph and 3 sounds which is known as a trigraph. Children are taught the sounds first, then how to match them to letters, and finally how to use the letter sounds for reading and spelling. Not all words are phonetically decode-able however, a select few words you need to learn through the 'sight words' method of learning to read (you, he, she, said etc)

The phonics codebreaker

Phoneme - a sound as it is said

Grapheme - a sound that is written

Digraph- two letters that work together to make the same sound

Trigraph - Three letters that work together to make the same sound

Split digraph - Two letters that work together to make the same sound, separated by another letter

Here are some examples:

Phoneme image 1


Digraph image 2 Trigraph image 3
Spilt - digraph image 4    

What does Phonics look like at Long Mead?

We prioritise the development of children’s listening and attention skills and their auditory and memory skills, teaching and exploring rhythm, rhyme, song and story throughout the Early Years. We use the Phase 1 aspect of Letters and Sounds, alongside Development Matters in the EYFS, to inform our planning. As children begin to tune into and discriminate the individual sounds around them, so they are able to hear the sounds made by the letters of the alphabet.

Daily synthetic phonics lessons begin in Reception through to Year 2 these are taught in small groups based on the children’s needs. We use Letters and sounds with some aspects of ‘Read, Write Inc’ to help support our children as they learn to hear, say, read and write sounds and words, captions and sentences. During these sessions’ children practise speed sounds, oral blending and segmenting, and then have the opportunity to apply these skills in reading and writing. Phonics lessons are fast-paced and repetitive in order to introduce, recall and embed learning.

Phonics Assessment

Children are regularly assessed using termly assessments and are re-grouped according to their next steps so that they always receive targeted teaching. All children sit a Phonics Screening Check at the end of Year 1 (in special circumstances, some children may be exempt). This is a nationally produced check with an ‘expected’ threshold. Children who do not reach the threshold in Year 1 receive extra support in Year 2 and KS2 and will be given the opportunity to resit the screening check at the end of Year 2. Phonics and other support interventions are continued throughout KS2 where needed.