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How we teach Phonics and Reading

In many ways, there is no greater skill we can teach a child than how to read fluently and for enjoyment.  At Northside Primary School, we place a high emphasis on quality phonics teaching, using the Letters and Sounds teaching programme.  The programme is enhanced with high quality and stimulating resources from Twinkl, Jolly Phonics and Jelly and Bean.


Guided Reading

Our main reading scheme is ‘Oxford Reading Tree’. We have an extensive and comprehensive range of books from Stage 1 up to Stage 19. Teachers assess each pupil’s reading ability at the beginning of the year and lead guided reading sessions using the texts. , with first readers starting on ‘ditty’ books to learn initial sounds and then progressing up through the book bands until they can accurately blend and segment words with confidence.

Take-Home Books

We combine RWI ditty books with the ‘Big Cat’ reading scheme, which takes pupils on a journey from stage 1 picture books all the way up to stage 18’s novels. Many of our children will remain on the Big Cat Reading Tree scheme right through primary school, however, along the way, we supplement their experience of reading with texts from our banded books, which are housed alongside our reading scheme and are designed to broaden the overall reading experience.

Progression Beyond the Reading Scheme

Pupils who have become fluent readers and have developed a good understanding of a wide range of texts (both fiction and non-fiction) may progress onto ‘Free Readers’ at the discretion of the class teacher. Free readers choose one of the many books from our recently developed library based on their interests.


To ensure the teaching of phonics is consistent throughout the Early Years and KS1, the phonics programme has been devised by the Early Years and KS1 teachers and is regularly updated and revised.

In the EYFS unit, systematic daily phonics is taught using the Letters and Sounds Programme. Jelly and Bean reading books are used to enhance phonological knowledge and promote early reading skills through high quality, fun texts.  These books are used regularly every week during and in addition to phonics sessions.

In Year 1 and Year 2, phonics sessions are taught daily and the pupils are grouped into phases (according to the Letters and Sounds Programme assessments) to ensure all learning needs are met.  These daily sessions are supported by homework and reading activities.

In year 3, children in need of catch-up phonics sessions receive these from a teaching assistant as and where appropriate. The pupils in Years 3 to 6 who are on-track with their phonological development are taught age-appropriate spellings and grammar. The school follows the ‘No-Nonsense’ spelling programme.

Reading in the EYFS

Children in EYFS read to an EYFS team member twice a week. Picture books and library books of interest are sent home weekly. New bookmarks will be sent home this year to give parents support in how to read to or with their child using the books that come home from school.

Reading books from the Big Cat Scheme will not be sent home early in the school year, but as the teachers feel the child is ready to access the books in relation to their phonological knowledge. Key, high frequency words will be sent home throughout the Autumn and Spring terms to be learnt and once your child is confident saying these words on sight, the relevant reading books will be sent home. Please support your child in learning the key, high frequency words, as this is a vital early stage of learning to read.

Reading in Year 1 and Year 2

All children are heard read at least once a week by the class teacher in Guided Reading sessions. Additional reading for pleasure time occurs each week during the Guided Reading session. Targeted reading groups are identified each term to support the development of reading for those children who may be falling behind.

Reading in Year 3 to 6

All children are heard read at least one a week by the class teacher in Guided Reading sessions.

We encourage parents to listen to their child read every day and record what they have read and how they have read in the School Journal.

The School Library

The school library is a magical place and houses all our fiction and non-fiction reading books. We keep the Oxford Reading Tree books near the Early Years classroom. All other books are stored in the library. All classes are encouraged to use the library as regularly as possible to engage children in the wonder of books and the joy of reading.

Encouraging Reading

The school launches a reading challenge each year during National Book Week to motivate children to read. Prizes and awards are on offer.

How parents can find out more

If you would like to know more about helping your child with reading or phonics, please see your child’s class teacher. We hold an annual phonics session for parents and we are always eager to discuss methods you can use to support your child.

Northside News