Reading and Phonics

At Thornaby C of E Primary School, we intend:
• For children to become enthusiastic and motivated readers
• To develop children’s confidence in reading a wide variety of genres and text types
• For children to have the skills to decode words in order to be able to read fluently with understanding of what they have read.
• To encourage a love of literature and an enjoyment of reading for pleasure
• To use reading to provoke thought within children.

At Thornaby Church of England Primary School, we value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. We believe that phonics provides the foundations of learning to read and acknowledge that children need to be taught the key skills in segmenting and blending to be equipped with the knowledge to be able to decode words and read fluently. We also value and encourage the children to read for enjoyment and recognise that this starts with the foundations of acquiring letter sounds, segmenting and blending skills. We believe reading is key for academic success but also appreciate and promote a love for reading.


Our whole curriculum is shaped by our school vision which aims to enable all children, regardless of background, ability, additional needs, to flourish to become the very best version of themselves they can possibly be. For the structured teaching of phonics we use the DFE approved document ‘Letters and Sounds’, however we start our very young learners (EY) with Jolly Phonics actions which allows the children to embed the initial sounds using actions as a prompt. This allows our phonics teaching and learning to be progressive from Nursery to Year 2. For children who have not gained a firm knowledge and understanding of all the phases of Letters and Sounds by the end of Y2, phonics work continues into Year 3. Nursery teach Letters and Sounds phase 1 phonics, which concentrates on developing their speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for the structured phonic work of individual phonemes which starts in phase 2. As children move into Reception, they continue to build on their listening skills and are introduced to Letters and Sounds phase 2 which marks the start of systematic phonics work. They have discreet daily phonic sessions where they revise previous learning, are taught new grapheme/phonemes, practise together and apply what they have learnt. Through Letters and Sounds, the children are taught the 44+ phonemes that make up all the sounds required for reading and spelling. These phonemes include those made by just 1 letter and those that are made by 2 or more. Children work through the different phases and as they grow in confidence and experience, they are introduced to alternative ways of representing the same sound. This ensures that skills and knowledge are built on year by year and sequenced appropriately to maximise learning for all children.

From their very first day at Thornaby Church of England Primary, children are provided with every opportunity to engage with books that fire their imagination and interest, motivating and exciting them to learn Phonics and become competent readers. We encourage reading for pleasure by providing children with a choice of challenging and enriching texts as well as building in time for children to read independently and as part of a whole class. All children have daily opportunities to read a variety of material in school, including regularly with an adult. Our children are given reading books matched to their phonic knowledge to take home daily. We have an extensive range of other reading books to supplement and enhance our phonic reading scheme; which our children can take home and read either alongside their phonic book or using a range of other reading strategies, such as context and picture cues or gained sight vocabulary.


Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of KS1. Children can then focus on developing fluency and comprehension throughout school. Attainment in reading is measured using the statutory assessments at the end of KS1 and KS2. These results are measured against the reading attainment against children nationally. Attainment in phonics is assessed regularly and interventions put in place to support children. However, attainment is ultimately measured by the phonic screening test at the end of year 1. Although, we firmly believe reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments. We give all children the opportunity to enter the wonderful worlds that books open up to them. We promote reading for pleasure as part of our reading curriculum. Children are encouraged to develop their own love of genres and authors. This enhances a deep love of literature across a range of styles, genres and cultures.



Reading Scheme information

Children in Foundation and Key Stage One mainly follow the Oxford Reading Tree scheme which has been carefully aligned to support and compliment the Letters and Sounds phonic phases, instead of following the scheme per say. For example, stage 1 Oxford Reading Tree which is phonics based, uses knowledge of Letters and Sounds phase 2; and stage 2 Oxford Reading Tree, utilises Letters and Sounds phase 3: diagraphs.

These books provide a variety of Fiction, Non-Fiction and Poetry texts for the children to enjoy. They begin with wordless books which develop the skill of storytelling, progressing to books which encourage children to read using phonetic skills and then to the development of sight vocabulary to develop fluency. Children in Reception are given reading books from the start of the school year to develop these skills and a love of books.

When the children have gained a bank of phonetic knowledge, sight vocabulary, together with reading confidence and fluency, they have greater freedom and independence to choose their own books from our banded/levelled library. At this stage greater emphasis is placed on expression and diction together with comprehension skills, such as inference, prediction, deduction and information retrieval.

Additional reading elements include Reading Plus is an individualised on-line reading programme accessed by Year 5/6 students and some children in Year 3/4. The programme is designed to simultaneously develop all three domains of reading- physical, cognitive and emotional. Lexia is also used to support children’s reading knowledge on an individualised basis.

Across all stages, pupils’ vocabulary, awareness of grammar and enjoyment, are developed through an extensive experience of listening to, sharing and discussing a wide range of high-quality texts with the teacher, other adults and each other. These reading concepts and skills are taught daily by adults reading to children; children reading to adults; guided reading; and independent reading.



For information about our phonics scheme: Letters and Sounds 

The Phonics Test

Phonics screening tests take place when the children are in Year 1. This usually happens at the beginning of June and consists of 40 words that children have to blend and read. However, if your child is unsuccessful at passing the phonics screening test, they have another opportunity to take the test again in Year 2.