Early Reading and Phonics

At Holy Family we are ‘determined that every pupil will learn to read, regardless of their background, needs or abilities.’ (Schools Inspection Handbook May 2019 p87:293

In order to do this, in partnership with Learner’s First English Hub we aim to:

  1. To ensure all pupils make speedy progress in phonics and reading

Pupils’ progress in reading is dependent upon both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. – We do this through our daily teaching of phonics in discreet phonics lessons and the intervention groups for children who are falling behind the expected standard.

  1. To develop pupils’ understanding and use of spoken language

Pupils’ vocabulary, grammar, understanding of the world, and their ability to communicate effectively depend upon the quality and variety of language they hear and the opportunities they have to speak and interact, in particular with adults. The frequency, depth and quality of these exchanges are fundamental to this progress. Good reading comprehension draws upon this linguistic knowledge. – We do this through our interaction with the children in Early Years and through reciprocal reading lessons.

  1. To develop pupils’ love of reading

Reading widely and sharing books feeds pupils’ imagination, their vocabulary and knowledge of the world.  Pupils’ progress at school is dependent on the breadth and frequency of the books they have read to them and the books they read for themselves: the more they read and have opportunities to talk about what they read, the more words, people and worlds they encounter and understand. – We do this through the daily stories that we share with the children, the range of texts that we select for the reading areas and how we encourage children to use these areas and schemes and initiatives that we have in school to increase the profile of reading such as the ‘100 books’ and teachers ‘I am reading’ displays.

Have a look at this powerful video about the science of story telling:


Programme of Study

We teach with fidelity to the Letters and Sounds Programme of study.

We follow the Letters and Sounds order for introducing the phonemes, graphemes and tricky words and our lessons follow the structure set out in the programme.

Progression in phonics

The progression of phonics from Early Years to KS1 is set out in the following document.

Phonics Teaching Progression EYFS and KS1


Children are assessed informally during daily phonics lessons and are assessed formally every half term. Children’s assessments are recorded in their ‘Learning Records’ (and collated on a teacher overview for each class). The assessments take in to account reading, recall and spellings and include tricky words, decodable high frequency words, sentences to read and sentences to record from dictation as well as letter formation.

These Learning Records follow children through the school until they can fully access the phonics code and are fluent readers.


To ensure consistency across school, all staff use the same terminology related to phonics and early reading.

phoneme                                often referred to as ‘a sound’. The smallest unit of sound in a word.

grapheme–phoneme             The match between a phoneme and a grapheme.
correspondence (GPC)

grapheme                              ‘a phoneme written down’. A letter (or sequence of letters_ that                                                                                  represent(s) a phoneme.

blend                                       putting the phonemes together to make larger units such as syllables or                                                                   words e.g. c-a-t makes “cat”.

sound                                      saying the phonemes that each grapheme represents in order to blend                                                                       them.

segment                                  breaking words (or parts of words) apart. Breaking them in to                                                                                      component sounds (phonemes) e.g. “cat” is c-a-t.

recognition                           saying the phoneme when shown the grapheme.

graph                                       a phoneme that is represented by one letter.

digraph                                   a phoneme that is represented by two letters.

trigraph                                  a phoneme that is represented by three letters.

recall                                        finding or writing the grapheme that represents a particular phoneme.

polysyllabic word              a word containing more than one syllable.

split digraph                         ‘special friends’. A digraph which is separated within a word.

adjacent consonant           two or more consonants next to each other at the beginning or end of                                                                        word or syllable.


This example of vocabulary is taken from our schools’ standard operating procedure (SOP) which outlines the non-negotiables for teaching phonics. This document includes the resources that we use, the consistency in delivery, assessment, intervention and communication with parents.

SOP Guide_Phonics_V1.0

Decodable Reading Books

The school has invested in fully decodable reading books which are closely matched to the Letters and Sounds programme of study. The books are sorted and labelled according to the phases and teachers are responsible for selecting the appropriate books for each child in their class.

Guide to coding system: Phonics Library Books Colour Coding System

Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension develops both pupils understanding and use of spoken language as well as develop their love of reading.

Reading comprehension is taught separately from decoding to reduce cognitive load. When teaching comprehension we follow the structure of reciprocal reading (which you can find out more about in the reading section of this website). During reciprocal reading sessions, children are taught and reminded of tier 2 vocabulary.

Reading at home

Reading books matched to your child’s phonics level will go home every week. These books are fully decodable and your child will have been taught how to read the book in school. Children need to work on developing fluency when reading these books and should read them repeatedly so that they are regularly recognising and using taught phonemes and are blending sounds more efficiently.

We also want to encourage a love of reading, therefore, in addition to the decodable books, children will take home a reading book which can be shared with them at home (read to them by an adult).

Please note that there is a difference between being read to and reading fully decodable books and both of these types of reading are of great importance.

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Fun Fridays

April 29th, 2022|0 Comments

Fun Fridays began today with a Wheelathon. We could not have asked for a better day with the sun shinning and so many happy children. Looking forward to next weeks activity already.