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Reading & Phonics


Information & Resource Pack for Parents


What is Phonics?


Phonics is one strategy for helping teach children to read.  Through Phonics, children learn to decode (reading) and encode (spelling).  This helps them to develop skills to comprehend (read / understand) and compose (write).


Phonics helps children because it teaches them the matching sounds and symbols in the English language.  This is called the Grapheme-Phoneme-Correspondence.  (A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in a word and a grapheme is the letter representing a phoneme.)  There are 26 letters in the English alphabet but 44 phonemes. 


At Barton Clough we teach Phonics using a, Government recommended, programme called Letters and Sounds.  This is daily, time limited (20 minutes) sessions of systematic, synthetic phonics.  Our sessions are taught in focused groups with the aim of all children being able to work at an age appropriate level.  All children learn by hearing, saying, seeing and writing the sounds.  This develops into how to blend for reading and segment for spelling.


We make our Phonics sessions fun, fast paced and full of games so that we can learn and practice new sounds (or skills) in exciting ways before applying our learning in real life contexts (both reading and writing).


Overview of when Phonics is taught at Barton Clough:

Phase 1 – Nursery

Phase 2 – Reception

Phase 3 – Reception

Phase 4 – Reception

Phase 5 – Year 1

Phase 6 – Year 2


Children from Year 2 onwards, then progress to Support for Spelling and SPAG (Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar). 


There is a statutory Year 1 Phonics Screening Check for all children in Year 1, and for some children again in Year 2.


Reading at Barton Clough


In addition to daily Phonics sessions all children will take part in daily reading sessions too.  These include a rotation of activities that help the children learn, practice and apply a range of reading strategies and skills.  At least once a week, this will include a Guided Reading session with their teacher.  When this happens, their teacher will make a note in their Reading Record.


Our aim with reading is to ensure that all children become proficient in both ‘Word Recognition’ and ‘Language Comprehension’.  This means that they can read text and understand it.  Children will develop at different rates, in each area, and so can sometimes read a higher level of text than they can understand.


During Guided Reading sessions your child will read, as part of a group, and the teacher will select texts (and books) that are at an ‘Instructional Level’.  This means your child can read it with 90% - 95% accuracy; it is challenging for them and would be too hard for them to read on their own, but is manageable with support.  These texts will include fiction, non-fiction, poetry and phonics based books covering a range of topics and interests. 


Your child will be taught to:

  • enjoy reading
  • read to learn
  • read to understand
  • monitor their own reading to check it makes sense
  • read with fluency and expression
  • talk about what they have read
  • answer comprehension questions about what they have read (orally and in writing)
  • answer literal questions (where the answer is in the text) and inference questions (where they have to read between the lines and use clues in the text)


We have a newly developed Library which the children can take books out of to bring home and enjoy, in addition to their ‘Home Reading’ Book.


Reading with your child at home


It is essential that your child is reading at home, in addition to their reading at school.  Ideally this should be at least 10 – 15 minutes every night.  You might like to make this part of their daily routine, for example at bed time.


Reading at home should include:

  • Your child reading independently (on their own / by themselves)
  • Your child reading to an adult (either yourself, or an older sibling)
  • Reading with your child (where you read a book together)
  • Your child listening to an adult read (this may be a story that they could have read themselves, which they enjoy you reading, or a book that is too hard for them to read on their own, so they learn new vocabulary)


It is important that you write in your child’s Reading Record, whenever you have read with them at home.  This is so we can provide support where needed and demonstrate evidence of your child’s reading experience, in different contexts.


Your child will be given a ‘Home Reader’, from school, to read at home with you.  The purpose of bringing these books home is so that your child can practice the skills they are learning with their teacher.  This means the book they have will be easier than their Guided Reading books.  It should be easy for them to read it fluently.  You can then help them learn to:

  • Read for pleasure and enjoyment
  • Practice new vocabulary
  • Develop their expression; use of different voices, using punctuation for fluency
  • Practice reading with meaning; understanding what they read, as they read it
  • Develop their understanding and comprehension skills (You can help this by talking about a book with your child, when they are reading it or after they have finished.  Ask them questions about the book and what they have read.)


In addition to your child’s ‘Home Reader’ they can be reading lots of other books (from your local library, school library or books at home) to keep it interesting for them.  These books can be written in their Reading Record too.



Sound and Word Mats


These are the sounds, and words, that your child will be taught during each of the phases of Letters and Sounds Phonics.  You might want to practice some of these at home with them; playing games where they have to say, read, write and spell the words.


If you have any questions about your child’s phonics, reading, writing or spelling, please speak to their class teacher, who will be happy to help.