Reading & Phonics

The Teaching of Reading and Phonics

Reading and Phonics at Our Lady of Ransom


At Our Lady of Ransom Catholic Primary School we believe that the teaching of high quality phonics is vital in order for children to secure the crucial skills of word recognition that, once mastered, enables them to read fluently and automatically. Once children are fluent readers, they are able to concentrate on the meaning of the text.

Phonics in the Early Years Foundation Stage

All phonics is taught following the 'Letters and Sounds' programme during a daily phonics session. Each day, the previous phonemes are reviewed and a new phoneme is introduced. The children then have time to practise and apply. The actions from Jolly Phonics are taught to increase the children’s confidence, to prompt recall and to embed learning through a multi-sensory approach. The children are initially taught as a whole class, then work in smaller groups according to their needs. Children begin to use interactive ICT resources to practise phonics skills such as 'Letters and Sounds', 'Phonics Play' etc (further recommended resources can be found in the 'Reading Resources' section of the website') .

Phonics in Key Stage 1

In Years 1 and 2, children continue to follow the Letters and sounds programme, through daily phonic lessons. There are intervention groups to support children who are still working at the lower phases. Children continue to use the Jolly Phonics actions when needed, with additional actions being introduced for alternative grapheme-phoneme correspondences if necessary. This is enriched by phonics play and LCP Phonics.

Phonics in Key Stage 2

At the start of Year 3, if at least 70% of the cohort has not completed the 'Letters and Sounds' programme of study, it will be continued to be taught daily for 20 minutes. If only a small proportion of children have not completed the programme, an intervention group will be set up to support these pupils.

Planning and Delivery

In accordance with 'Letters and Sounds', class teachers plan their phonics teaching using a five part structure:

1. Revisit previous learning;

2. Teach the new phoneme/rule for that day;

3. Practise using this;

4. Apply when playing a game, in writing, speaking etc.;

5. Assess children’s knowledge of the day’s learning.

Teaching is multi-sensory, encompassing simultaneous visual, auditory and kinaesthetic activities to enliven core learning. Phonics is taught in short, briskly paced sessions and then applied to reading and writing in a meaningful context. All activities are closely matched to the children’s abilities and interests, and all classroom environments have an age-appropriate display concentrating on the relevant sounds and key words.


At Our Lady of Ransom, reading has a high profile as it is a skill which applies to all curriculum areas. Our reading scheme encompasses carefully selected books from a range of publishers such as Collins Big Cat, Oxford Reading Tree and Bug Club. These are graded by reading levels known as book bands. This means that when we know a child’s book band, they will be able to select books from different reading schemes with confidence, knowing that they are the right level. Lower bands are specifically matched to each stage of our phonics teaching so children can apply their learning straight away. We also have a large selection of ‘free readers’ available in the main library and class libraries for those children who have reached the end of the banded reading schemes. Please note: we recommend that children who have reached the end of the scheme continue to read to their parents two to three times a week. Questioning your child as you go along will help to further develop their reading comprehension skills. For ideas and inspiration about how to keep your child motivated to read for pleasure, please refer to the 'Reading Resources' section of the website.

Children will receive daily support with their reading in school through a variety of approaches:

  • Shared Reading – Each day classes or groups will share a text, e.g. a big book, report on the IWB and read aloud words, phrases or sentences. Individual children may also be asked to read these or parts of the text. This shared reading will have a focus, e.g. key words, punctuation, spelling etc. that links with the day’s learning.

  • Guided Reading – Readers of a similar ability are grouped and share a text once a week, led by class teachers or Learning Support Assistants. Readers take turns to read and discuss the text, concentrating on the assessment focus for that session.

  • Individual Reading – In Reception, individual reading with an adult occurs for each child weekly. This progresses to fortnightly in Key Stage 1. Readers needing more support will read more frequently. How often this occurs will be determined by the class teacher and is supported by the child reading to Learning Support Assistants. Each time a child is read with individually, it is highlighted in their reading record with a comment or a stamp.

At every occasion when a child reads in school there will be an emphasis on their understanding of what they have read, as well as fluency. It is important that this is encouraged at home through regular questioning as books are shared together.

Key Reading comprehension skills are introduced and built upon as folllows:

Step 1 - Literal questions:

Identifying the key words in a question.

Skimming and scanning the text to locate the key word/words

Using these to help answer simple information retrieval questions (literal questions)

Step 2 - inference questions:

Identifying the key words in a question

Finding synonyms of these words in the text if the key words do not appear directly (eg if the question mentions bad weather, children might look for words such as storm or rain or if it mentions a mode of transport they might identify 'Number 27' as referring to a bus)

Using these synonyms to answer the question, giving evidence/reasons from the text

Step 3 - evaluation questions:

For these type of questions, children must first use personal experience to generate reasons why characters act, think or feel in a particular way, then refer back to the text to decide on the most sensible answer, based on evidence. For example, if a character is bowing their head they could have been caught in the rain. The children will need to explain why the character is doing this - perhaps to keep the rain and snow out of their eyes or to huddle deeper into a hood or stay under an umbrella.

Children are also encouraged to use clues from the text to make predictions about what might happen to the characters in the future.

All teachers are required to ensure that they provide a rich reading environment; enabling the children access to a variety of texts. This includes using high quality texts within their teaching across the curriculum and is enhanced by the school’s investment in a large library of e-books, accessible to pupils both at home and at school, through Oxford Owl and Fiction Express.

Teachers read to the class, sharing whole texts together within an atmosphere which enables children to listen and respond to the text together. All year groups build in ‘quiet reading time’ into the school day, providing a time when children can read to themselves.

Assessment of reading happens continuously throughout the school year and is informed through all the approaches to reading that happen daily in school. Class teachers will use this information to support children with their reading and to decide when they are ready to move onto the next stage. This could happen at any time in the school year. Children will not be expected to read a set number of books or spend a set amount of time within a band before they progress. Benchmarking may be used by the class teacher to support their assessment of readers that need greater support.