English - Phonics and Reading

Phonics and Reading Curriculum

Infant School

Orchard Lea Approach to the teaching of phonics

Phonics is taught daily to all of our children, based on the RWI approach. The children begin their day with applied phonics where our staff target specific areas for development. Alongside this, we have daily-targeted phonics sessions; these are in small groups in which we teach a new sound and teach children to blend to read.

In addition, supported phonics is also taught in a sensory way incorporating a ‘bucket time’ approach, for our less experienced children; this is delivered throughout the week.

We use RWI suggested picture clues to reinforce initial sounds as we teach a new letter sound. In our targeted sessions, we use a wider range of visual clues that reflect our children’s experiences but add some that further aid vocabulary development. For example, hut instead of a house, lighthouse instead of a light.

Key Focus in our direct teaching sessions

There is a separate long-term plan in place that outlines the progression of teaching phonics in EYFS and Key Stage one. This plan details when, how and what will be taught in phonics and reading.


RWI assessments are carried out half-termly to track children’s phonics knowledge and ability to blend green words and read red words. We track progress, and identify any gaps in learning, re-group and plan to re-visit and fill these gaps to ensure children make accelerated progress. At the end of every discrete phonics session, all practitioners should assess whether each pupil has met the learning intention. The parameters for each phonic skill are:

Letter sound identification:

To successfully know a new letter sound, children must be able to:

  • Give the sound (pure sound) when shown a single grapheme

  • Identify the sound on a familiar sound mat

  • Select the correct letter from a mixture of sound cards or magnetic letters

We would expect a child to be able to spot the sound on flashcards, in environmental print including displays and sound mats and in books.


To successfully blend a VC or CVC words, children must be able to:

  • Say all of the sounds in the word in the correct order

  • Blend the sounds into the correct word

We would expect a child to be able to read VC and CVC words during phonics games, from print around the environment and in correctly-levelled decodable books.


To be able to successfully segment a VC or CVC words, children must be able to:

  • Say every sound in the word in the correct order

  • Select the correct graphemes (either physically or by writing) to represent each sound in the word

We would expect a child to be able to say the sounds independently, using actions such as robot arms if needed, identify the graphemes and either make meaningful marks or informed selections from a small bank of letters.

Irregular word reading

To be able to successfully read an irregular word, children must be able to read it on sight (this may involve saying the sounds that they can see, but then self-correcting when they say the final word).

We would expect a child to be able to identify these words on flashcards, on teddy cards and in books.

Developing phonics and reading

Children will begin with a picture book and progress towards early decodable books as their phonics knowledge develops. The focus of these books is in simple CVC blending, that allow children to develop fluency through sets of sounds. Once children have been taught all of the set one sounds and they are able to blend, with confidence, within these letter groups, they will take home one of our RWI book band books. As we progress towards set two sounds, they move through our RWI book band books. Alongside these books, they will have a levelled sticker book as a ‘best fit’ to match to their age and stage. As well as a RWI book, the children may have an additional decodable book; these books are in line with their phonics knowledge and ensure the children have a varied diet in their reading. This allows the children to continue to progress phonetically, but also develop their confidence, self-esteem and success in being a reader. Parents are given specific guidance, through workshops, videos and information sheets as to how they can support reading and phonics at home.

Developing phonics and writing 

In the reception year, as the children are taught new sounds, they are given daily opportunities to practise mark making using these sounds. This enhanced in a range of ways, from giant mark making, to sand formation and smaller letter formation; it varies as the children’s fine motor control develops. We begin by encourage letter shapes were children attach their own meaning. We then progress to modelling hearing and writing initial sounds, building this up to CVC words and then simple sentences.

It is similar to our approach in the teaching of phonics and reading, we provide range of enhancements during our continuous provision that allow children to rehearse and practise the skills of writing. We have weekly opportunities for children to be taught the meta-cognition of writing, we develop this through the ‘Say it, think it, write it’ approach and in conjunction with RWI Fred Talk. Children are taught in weekly ‘we are writers’ sessions to develop the vocabulary and structure of writing, with engaging and relevant texts and hooks.  We have a balance of weekly guided writing into their ‘Busy Books’ and an on-going record of child initiated writing through their play. Parents are given information on early writing development and how to support at home through parent workshops, videos and information leaflets.

This process is developed in Key stage one, with a carefully planned sequence of text drivers that engage and hook children into writing. Writing is taught in daily sessions using quality text drivers, that model excellent use of story structure and vocabulary. We follow the Hampshire Learning Journey approach to the teaching of writing, building the process, whilst adhering to the National Curriculum outcomes for Key Stage one.

Children identified as not on track

We use the language of our learning powers to develop children’s understanding of how they learn and how they are more likely to become successful learners. This helps to develop their growth mind-set and willingness to have a try.

There are opportunities to practise phonics and early literacy in our continuous provision; we have an awareness of these children in our planning to ensure they are be identified as a focus.

Any children not making expected progress, and those children who we know are disadvantaged will have extra literacy practise and interventions sessions built into their week. They will have at least one extra-targeted reading time compared with their peers. They will also have additional sessions in addition to their peers to focus on vocabulary development, story structure and shared writing opportunities. In reception, children will have next steps targeted during our continuous provision, when they are engaged in learning that interests them through play.

Children identified with speech and communication needs (outside of referrals and speech programmes) will take part in specific intervention programmes.

Junior School


Teachers aim to be reading role models in the way that they discuss and promote books as well as modelling reading for pleasure. They make careful selections both in the texts that they choose to use in the teaching of English and in those that they read aloud to pupils. This not only allows children to encounter more demanding texts in a safe environment but also aids their vocabulary growth.

Reading is taught through Book Study (whole class reading) and English lessons. Book Study sessions take place 4 times a week for 30-40 minutes. During these sessions, children are taught both the technical skills of reading (phonic skills, decoding and fluency) and the crucial skills of comprehension. We follow the Hampshire Teaching Reading for Comprehension Toolkit which is a practical resource that supports the teaching of reading strategies, planning key questions, classroom dialogic talk and pupil metacognition. Teachers use question stems to initiate discussions and encourage the effective and purposeful use of reading strategies. Teachers then aim to deepen pupil outcomes by using a set of double-sided reading strategy pupil cards, enabling children to take greater responsibility for their own learning. These cards can be used in a variety of ways, for example to:

  • explicitly focus on teaching individual strategies through the engaging texts

  • use a selection of cards to encourage dialogue about what strategies are needed/have been used for a task or discussion

  • use the cards to identify gaps in children’s understanding and barriers to learning

  • use the list on the back of the strategy cards to deepen children’s application of skills.

In addition, Reading Domain cards are also used. These double-sided cards are designed to support children in comprehension:

  • making explicit how reading strategies are combined

  • scaffolding quality oral answers by using the reading response sentence starters to encourage children to construct extended utterances, not one word answers

  • encouraging children to deepen their thoughts in discussion with others by referring to the dialogic talk stems 

  • ensuring that no child is being held back by their ability to write, i.e. deepening responses orally without the need to write extended answers

The prompts are age appropriate with a clear progression in expectation across the year groups.

Opportunities to practise and consolidate skills through independent reading are also planned for and provided. After lunch every day, the children enjoy their ‘Book Club’ time. Teachers provide every same attainment level child each with a rich text aimed at their level of reading. Children are responsible for the rate they read the text at and agree a point that they need to have reached by the end of the week. At the end of the week, the children enjoy rich discussions around their text. For example, who is their favourite character in the book and why, and if this had changed from the previous weeks discussions and the reason for this. In addition, the children enjoy weekly library time where they are able to change their books, with teacher advice, and the opportunity to read their library books. At the end of the day, children enjoy listening to their class reading book.

Children identified as not on track

We believe that no child should be left behind or become a disenchanted reader so targeted interventions, both group and individual, are deployed appropriately, including ‘Read Write Inc. phonics’ and Fluency Reading into Comprehension.

If a child still requires a phonics intervention in Year 3, then the school follows the RWI programme. Orchard Lea Junior School uses the separate long-term plan that outlines the progression of teaching phonics. This plan details when, how and what will be taught in phonics and reading. For our children in years 4 to 6, if they still require phonics training, we use the RWI Fresh Start programme. Fresh Start is a systematic synthetic phonics programme for older readers who are struggling. It teaches them to read unfamiliar words accurately and therefore read texts fluently and with understanding. In same reading attainment groups, children have afternoon interventions following the separate long-term Fresh Start plan. In addition, in class these children have reading books that are linked to the phonic sounds they are learning which they practise reading with the class teacher and other adults weekly.

RWI assessments are carried out half-termly to track children’s phonics knowledge and ability to blend green words and read red words. We also track progress, and identify any gaps in learning, re-group and plan to re-visit and fill these gaps to ensure children make accelerated progress.

Once a child has learnt to successfully read through our RWI phonics programmes they begin the Hampshire Fluency Reading into Comprehension intervention. This is a twice-weekly, 30 minute intervention for 8 weeks focussing on reading for expression and intonation which supports the children in improving their comprehension skills. In small groups, the children listen to the adult model how to read the text with a great emphasis on expression and intonation. The children mimic back to each other and the adult with instant feedback provided on how to improve. The children meet independently mid-week to practise the same text as well as taking the text home to practise. At the end of the week, the children meet again to ‘perform’ their text reading and discuss why it was successful or how to make the ‘performance’ more successful. YARC assessments are carried out prior to the intervention starting and also at the end of the intervention so that the children’s reading accuracy, reading rate and reading comprehension ages can be measured for progress.

Year 3 & 4 spelling list

Year 5 & 6 spelling list

Grammar Glossary for Parents

22 ways to improve spelling

Handwriting Script - Capital letter

Handwriting Script - printed

Handwriting Script - lower case

Orchard Lea's Spelling Guidelines

Strategies to Support Reading