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St. Oswald's RC

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Reading and Phonics

Phonics at St Oswald's RC Primary School

Phonics lessons at St Oswald's are taught daily. The sessions are short, engaging and memorable with an emphasis placed on revising a previously learned letter-sound correspondence, learning a new one, practicing this, and applying it to sentence level work. We follow the Red Rose Letters and Sounds systematic, synthetic phonics planning programme which uses the Letters and Sounds approach. Red Rose Letters and Sounds is the only phonics programme used here at St. Oswald’s school.

What is Phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write by developing their phonetic awareness—the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate different sounds used in the English language. Children learn the correspondence between these sounds and the spelling patterns (graphemes) that represent them. At St. Oswald's, we place a strong emphasis on the teaching of phonics in the early years of reading and writing in order to give all children a solid foundation for learning. 

During phonics sessions, children are taught how to:

  • Recognise the sounds that individual letters make
  • Identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make-such as 'sh' or 'oo'
  • Blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word


Children can then use this knowledge to 'decode' new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.

The children are taught to read words by blending, which means pushing all the sounds together to make a word.  The children are taught to spell words by segmenting, which means sounding out words, using their ‘phoneme fingers’ and writing down the sounds they can hear.


Why phonics?

Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way, starting with the easiest sounds and progressing to the most complex, it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7 years old. Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills that they need to tackle new words. Children can go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and read for enjoyment (The Department for Education).

Phonics: How to pronounce pure sounds | Oxford Owl

Help your child to read by learning how to pronounce all 44 phonics sounds, or phonemes, used in the English language. This helpful guide could really improve reading time at home.

Phonics Phases 


Phase 1

The first phase supports the importance of speaking and listening and develops children’s discrimination of sounds, including letter sounds.


Phase 2

The children learn to pronounce the sounds themselves in response to letters, before blending them. This leads to them being able to read simple words and captions.


Phase 3

This phase completes the teaching of the alphabet and moves on to sounds represented by more than one letter. The children will learn letter names and how to read and spell some tricky words.

Phase 4

The children learn to read and spell words containing adjacent consonants.


Phase 5

The children broaden their knowledge of sounds for use in reading and spelling. They will begin to build word-specific knowledge of the spellings of words.


By the end of Reception children are expected to be secure in Phase 4. By the end of Year One children are expected to be secure in Phase 5. When finishing Key Stage One, most children should be secure in National Curriculum Year 2 Spelling expectations.

Click the document below to take you to further information about progression in phonics

Assessing Phonics


Assessment is ongoing, throughout the year, to ensure we have a strong knowledge of where our children are working at and to ensure they are secure in their phase before moving on.


These ongoing assessments allow staff in school to quickly identify children who may need extra support in this area of learning. Children will have access to small group interventions (using the Lancashire English Fast Track and Bounce Back Programmes) which take place to target specific needs and provide children with the skills they need to read independently.


In Key Stage 2, children who require further support have phonics sessions as an intervention delivered by well-trained teaching assistants and are tracked by the class teacher and English lead. Phonics assessments are regularly undertaken to ensure individual gaps in learning are targeted. As in Key Stage One, children will follow the Fast Track and Bounce Back intervention programmes developed by the Lancashire English team.

The Phonics Screening Check 

The phonics screening check is taken individually by all children in Year 1 in England. It is designed to give teachers and parents information on how children are progressing in phonics as well as to identify children who may need further support in Year 2. 

It is a school-based check carried out by teachers in school. It is not a stressful situation as the teacher will be familiar to the child and well-equipped to listen and understand your child’s level of skills. 

It checks that your child can:

  • Sound out and blend graphemes in order to read simple words.
  • Read phonically decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words, e.g. cat, sand, windmill.
  • Read a selection of nonsense words which are referred to as pseudo words.


Should you have any questions about the check, please speak to your child's teacher. 


Click on the document below to find out more information on the phonics screening check

Practicing Phonics at Home

The best phonics resources are ordinary reading books. Alongside the books your child brings home seek out books that you and your child enjoy reading. Discuss words that present a challenge, breaking them down into their component sounds in order to read them if necessary. Make sure you set aside quiet time for reading and enjoying books together. In addition to books, your child may bring home packs of words that can be decoded using their phonics knowledge. Practice reading and spelling these words. Play fun games with them such as thinking of words that rhyme.


Reading at St. Oswald's 


First and foremost, we want all children at St. Oswald’s to develop a life-long love of reading. English units of work are linked to a class text and reading opportunities will be prevalent across every area of the curriculum, beginning in the Early Years.


Guided Reading

Children in the main school take part in guided reading workshops which focus on the skills of decoding and comprehension. Here children working in small groups with a level of book matched to the ability of the children. The workshops may include time to complete independent pre-read tasks to prepare for guided reading sessions, a focussed guided reading session where specific reading skills are modelled by the teacher and an independent follow up task where pupils have the opportunity to practice taught skills independently.


Shared Reading

Shared reading takes place during the English lesson and involves the whole class working on a text with the teacher. All texts are carefully selected to ensure they are both age appropriate and challenging. During shared reading, teachers model a specific reading skill. Teachers read texts aloud to the class in order and by doing so model the use of expression, appropriate volume and how to take note of punctuation. Children may be asked to choral read using their ‘magic microphones’.


Class Novels 

Teachers read a variety of written material regularly with the children: fiction and non-fiction, stories, reports, diaries and poems. Children have time to listen to a class novel read by their teacher for 10 minutes every day.


Home-School Readers

We have a home-school reading system which requests that children read a book at the appropriate level for them. All of the reading books on offer in EYFS and Key Stage 1 will connect closely to the phonics knowledge children are taught when they are learning to read. In Reception and Key Stage 1, children follow The Oxford Reading Tree, Project X, Collins Big Cat and Dandelion Readers Book schemes, giving them a thorough grounding in the fundamentals. Moving up into Key Stage Two, children move through the Oxford Reading Tree and Collins Big Cat Schemes.


Reading Areas 

Classes have access to their own class ‘Book Corner’ where they can explore texts from a range of authors, related to different curriculum areas of study, recent events or topics of interest. St Oswald’s also has a well-stocked school library, where children can visit once they have read a book and change it for a new one. Pupils can also take a book out for pleasure to read alongside their regular reading book. This may be to read with their teachers, parents or share with each other in independent reading times.


Alongside this, we have visits from authors and poets and a range of special reading related days and events.