Reading and Phonics

Phonic and Reading Schemes used in Key Stage 1

  • Letters and Sounds
  • Pearson Phonic Bug
  • Pearson Reading Bug Club
  • Oxford Reading Tree

How will your child learn to read at Berry Hill Primary School ?

We believe that learning to read is probably the most important thing your son, or daughter will learn to do at Berry Hill School. It is an essential skill that they need to develop in order for them to access other areas of the curriculum now and in the future. However, enjoyment is central to reading whether it is reading a book, magazine, online, reading alone or being read to.

When we first start to teach the children to read, we use a Systematic Synthetic “Phonics” Approach. This means that the children learn through hearing the sounds of letters, then blending and segmenting them to read and spell words. Words are broken down into the sounds they're made up from and then these sounds are 'blended' together to make the word. So, for example, with 'cat', children learn the sounds the letters c, a and t make separately and then how they blend to say 'cat'.

Many of today's parents and grandparents previously learned to read whole words using the 'look and say' method.  Therefore, we have tried to explain how we teach reading today. 

How will phonics be taught in our school?

We follow the guidance set out in the Department of Education's own Letters and Sounds Teaching and Learning Resources.

Initially in Reception, we will start off with simpler single letter sounds (typically s,a,t,p,i,n) and then move to those which involve two letters such as 'oi', 'ou' and 'ai', or more e.g. 'igh', 'ough' or 'eigh'. Again, how quickly they progress through the sounds will vary. Sometimes we may set the children in similar ability groups from within the class, or across the Key Stage to meet their needs and teach a particular phase.

Phonics in KS 1 is carried out four times a week. Usually the children are set in similar ability groups for this. In KS 1, your child may bring home sounds to learn and practise. In KS 2 children continue to be taught phonics if necessary.

What about words which can't be decoded with phonics?

Along with learning phonics and blending words the children will start to read “Tricky Words”. These are words that are not able to be phonetically sounded out. As the children become more competent readers, they will not need to sound out all words they read and will be able to recognise some words instantly from sight memory.

If children find some words harder to read the pupils are encouraged to use other strategies. For example:  looking at the context, sounding out some of the word if part of it is regular and using that to try and work out the rest of it, and thinking of other words that look the same and using this knowledge to try and read the word. Your son or daughter may bring home lists of 'tricky words' to learn from school. These “Tricky Words” are also taught in phonics sessions.

When might my child get books to read from school?

Home reading books will be given to Reception children in the first term. Some of these books maybe picture books and then gradually words will be introduced. The children will, over the course of the year, bring home three different types of books: a Phonic Book, matched to their ability, which will have words that the children can sound out and may include some “Tricky Words”. A Core Reading Book, which will be from the Oxford Reading Tree Scheme and a Super Reader. The Super Readers books are a range of books to help children have the experience of reading different types of books from different schemes.

As the children become competent at reading and move up through the school, they may no longer need phonic books and core readers and will begin to take one longer more complex text.

The books are coloured coded into levels and these colours are progressive. Please ask your child’s class teacher if you would like to know more about the levels and colours your child is on. If your child has progressed through the reading levels and has excellent comprehension and is a proficient reader, they will take home ”Free Reader” books and will be encouraged to read books from home and other books of interest.

The children will have a reading diary that they bring home. The diary is or parents, pupils and staff to write in and keep a record of the books read and to write any comments about the child’s reading or progress. If you're unsure about how the reading diary works, please ask your child’s class teacher.

The children will also have a library book and will attend weekly Library sessions with our school Librarian.

How often will they be reading to an adult in school?

Guided Reading

The children will take part in Guided Reading sessions. This is usually once a week in a small group with an adult. The purpose of this is to help the children to learn to read and develop their reading comprehension. Once the children are able to read and decode words, they need to develop their understanding of texts read. Guided Reading is an ideal opportunity for the children to do this. They also complete “Follow Up” activities, which help to develop this.

Individual Reading

We endeavour to hear the children read to adult in school at least twice a week. However, the children will be reading some form of text within school on a daily basis. This type of reading may be linked to topic work.

How can I help ensure my child actually understands what they're reading?

Comprehension skills are essential and it is important that children understand what they are reading. Some pupils may be able to read accurately and fluently but struggle to comprehend what they are reading. Therefore, it is vital that children understand what they are reading and are able to answer questions about the texts read. Your child’s class teacher will be able to advise you on the types of questions to ask. Please remember, even if your child can 'decode' the words and read them out loud, it doesn't mean they'll truly understand, or are following the story or understanding the information.

How do I know if a book is too easy or too difficult?

We hope that your child will be able to read their individual reading book with an accuracy of 90%. If your child is really struggling, the text could be too challenging. Or if your child is unable to answer questions they may need a book that is slightly easier or may need help to locate the answers in the text.

You can always support your child by helping them read several words or read parts of the text to them. If your child is really struggling, praise them for their efforts and try to make it enjoyable. If your child is too tired, you could always read it to them.

What do we do at Berry Hill Primary School to promote Reading?

We celebrate reading within our school. We plan a variety of different events to promote the importance and raise the profile of reading throughout the school. The majority of the classes have a reading challenge each term. This is a reward for reading at home. We have special days to celebrate events such as “World Book Day”. We also have author weeks such as Roald Dahl week and dressing up days linked to book characters.

We strongly believe, at Berry Hill Primary School, that books are the key to every child’s future. We do our best to encourage regular reading, a range of opportunities and most importantly a love of reading.

Please contact your child’s class teacher if you any questions regarding Reading.