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Berewood Primary School

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Phonics and Reading

1. Phonics

We use the Phonics Play interactive teaching programme to teach phonics in school.  Phonics Play is based on the Letters and Sounds scheme.  In addition, we use a programme called Jolly Phonics to introduce the 42 individual letter sounds.  Jolly Phonics uses a multi-sensory method which is very motivating for children.  The sounds are taught in a specific order (not alphabetically) and are in groups called ‘phases. This enables children to begin building words as early as possible. 

At Berewood phonics is taught daily in school for at least 30 minutes from reception to year 2.  We use a systematic, synthetic phonics programme because we know this will help all children to keep up by developing the skills they need to "crack the reading code".  Children are often taught in whole class sessions so that all pupils can benefit from hearing the groups of sounds being taught and learn from each other.  Pre and post assessments are carried out before the new set out sounds are introduced as this helps inform planning for teaching.

The systematic approach to teaching phonics means children are given the tools that they need to independently write what they want clearly and with expression.  As children become ready for the next phase, they consolidate learning and are then encouraged to move on.  If they need more time to learn the new sounds, they are supported to learn the current phase of sounds through mastery folders*, precision teaching* and/or an extra reads programme.

As children become more confident the approach we use continues to revise and extend children’s phonic knowledge by complementing the earlier phonics teaching with further spelling, grammar and punctuation concepts.

Phonics teaching for pupils who find learning the sounds particularly tricky

However, phonics does not work well for all children. It is a "bottom up" approach. It starts with the letters that are the building blocks of words and shows learners different ways to put these building blocks together. Another approach is the look and say or whole language method, a "top down" approach which teaches children to recognise and memorise whole words by sight.  Children have different learning styles. If phonics does not seem to be working for a pupil, we will think about how they learn best – are they an auditory learner who likes listening to songs and stories and easily remembers what they hear? Are they a visual learner who likes looking at pictures and easily remember what they see? Or are they a kinaesthetic (physical) learner who likes to be physically active and who learns best by doing?


2. Reading scheme

We believe that reading is a skill for life, and we aim to promote a love of reading for pupils for school and for life.  

At Berewood we use Book Bands* to help teach reading as they are a proven approach to developing successful readers. We use a book bands system because it helps us to carefully grade the reading books by difficulty level and they provide a clear structure for us to help follow each child’s reading development. 

Books include a range of fiction and non-fiction books which helps greatly to interest children in reading. Most reading scheme books are given a book band colour by their publisher, which will be based on the book’s level of difficulty. 

Book banded books are also colour coded and are combined from a number of recognised schemes including Oxford Reading Tree, Bug Club, Big Cat Collins and other branded book collections.

Types of reading

Reading for phonics - Explicit mention and use of reading books that link to phonics sounds are shared with pupils and online with families too and are referenced when they appear elsewhere across the curriculum.

Reading for comprehension and accuracy - Children pick from the book banded books in the library and outside Year 1 classrooms.  Children are also introduced to new and engaging texts through topics across the school and more formally through separately taught guided reading* sessions in school from years 3 to 6.

Reading for pleasure - In addition, we encourage pupils to choose books from the school library or from classroom libraries that they enjoy and want to read (sometimes again and again if it’s a favourite).  Children are also read to daily in lessons and at other times too.


*Glossary (explanation of terms)

Book Banding is a national scheme which grades children's reading books according to the difficulty of the text. The system is designed to help schools grade their reading books across schemes and 'real books'.

Guided reading - Guided reading is a teaching method that involves a teacher working with a small group of pupils (but can also be taught whole class) who can read similar levels of texts. The text is easy enough for pupils to read with support from the teacher; it offers challenges and opportunities for problem-solving but is easy enough for most pupils to read with some fluency. You choose selections that help students expand their strategies.  Guided reading gives pupils the chance to apply the strategies they already know to new text, with the ultimate goal is independent reading.

Mastery folder – a mastery folder is ready-made folder that uses teacher assessments to provide individualised learning content in the form of flashcards.  At Berewood we mostly use it to support teaching of phonics sounds or words that children should know by sight. content or tasks. The flashcards circulate through the folder pockets, moving forward and eventually out of the folder when correct or back when needing further consolidation.  Teachers can track an individual pupil’s progress, gaining an accurate record of which sounds, and words have been mastered and which ones need a bit more work.

Precision teaching - is a method of planning a teaching programme to meet the needs of an individual child who is experiencing difficulty with acquiring or maintaining some skills. It has an inbuilt monitoring function and is basically a means of evaluating the effectiveness of what is being taught.