Reading and Phonics

Introduction to the teaching and learning of Phonics and reading

Your child will learn to read at school using our highly successfully multi-sensory, synthetic phonics approach. It is important to note that as well as learning the names of the letters of the alphabet, children need to know the sounds (phonemes) the letters make in words. This is the basis of a phonetic approach. As children move through the scheme they will begin to use two (diagraphs) or more letters to represent one sound. This “Letters and Sounds” scheme outlines an order of learning the letters which is not in alphabetical order. The children start with the letters (graphemes) “s,a,t,i,p,n” as these six letters can be used to make numerous three letter words, thus allowing children to read and spell some simple words very quickly. So please don’t worry if we appear to be jumping around the alphabet!

Here at Slaley we have been using a mixture of ‘Jolly Phonics’ and the recommended “Letters and Sounds” synthetic phonics scheme produced by the Department for Education and Skills since its introduction in 2007. Most children actively engage in the fun activities and multi-sensory way in which we teach it, and quickly realise they blend some letters (phonemes) to read simple words within a few weeks of starting school. Early success gives our children confidence to have a go at reading for themselves and gain pleasure from this new world they are entering for the first time. Daily phonics teaching begins in reception and continues throughout Key Stage One.

The reading scheme we use to support our phonics teaching is the very popular Oxford Reading Tree scheme leading onto Read, Write, Inc (at Key Stage 1), supplemented with a variety of graded books to add interest, challenge and diversity to our children’s reading. Throughout the school our children are encouraged to make the most of opportunities to read independently for personal pleasure.

In addition, we have libraries in our classrooms, which have a range of high level reading books, newspapers (First News) and magazines which older children have specifically chosen thus highlighting how keen we are to develop reading for pleasure.

To further encourage reading for pleasure, the children take ‘share books’ home. These are for parents to read with, and to, the children as we value this as much as the children reading to parents.

Links between home and school are very important and we expect the children to read at least three times a week at home. Much of the focused teaching of reading is done in school through ‘Guided Reading’ which is common practice in most schools.

If you would like to know more about synthetic phonics and guided reading please follow the link: This site, in particular the “Expert Help” section has many useful tips and information about how you can support your child with their reading throughout their time in first school.