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St James Primary School

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EYFS & KS1 Reading & Phonics

Phonics is a method of teaching children to read and write quickly and skilfully.

At St James Primary we follow the Monster Phonics programme. 

We teach discrete phonic lessons which are fun, interactive and follow a set outline of Recap, Teach, Practise, Apply and Assess. 

In EYFS children are taught to recognise the 44 sounds in the English language which we put together to form words. Some are represented by one letter, like 't', and some by two or more, like 'ck' in duck and 'oi’ as in oil. We refer to these as diagraphs. Once they have mastered the initial sounds the children are encouraged to match them to letters, then blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.  Finally, they use their knowledge of the sounds and blending skills to support their spelling.  The children learn to read a list of age appropriate ‘tricky’ words, words which do not follow the rules of standard English and cannot be sounded out using their phonics e.g ‘the’.  

In Key Stage 1 the children revise the 44 sounds and begin to blend 3 sounds (trigraphs) to support ‘decoding’ of words that they hear or see and in turn, learn to spell words phonetically. Towards the end of Key Stage 1 and moving in to Key Stage 2, we teach the children important ‘spelling rules’.  This enables children to make the shift from writing phonetically to spelling words accurately.

Phonics Screening Check

The statutory Year 1 Phonics Screening Check  is a list of 40 words which children will read one -to-one with their class teacher. 

It will assess phonics skills and knowledge learned through Reception and Year 1.

It will check that your child can:

  • Sound out and blend graphemes in order to read simple words e.g. n-igh-t
  • ·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’.


How do we prioritise reading?

  • Each class has a reading corner with a range of stories and non-fiction texts; these are rotated regularly to encourage children to access a range of texts; to match current learning; and to follow children’s interests – books can also be found around the classroom.
  • Each class has a collection of books as a mini library, selected from our reading spine with a range of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.
  • As a school we choose high quality texts to enrich language.
  • To encourage reading at home each child has a reading record which we use to monitor home reading, we can provide extra provision in school if needed.
  • Guided reading sessions take place in each class every week to ensure that every pupil is in a group reading session; activities include: reading comprehension.
  • In EYFS and KS1 children are heard individually to read at least once a week. KS2 pupils who are not reading frequently at home are also heard individually to read at school.
  • Reading is celebrated throughout the year, including World Book Day.
  • Monster Phonics is followed to teach phonics in EYFS and KS1; it is taught five days a week.
  • Pupils who are learning phonics take home three-types of books a week: a Monster Phonics fully decodable book; a book taken from a range of books, including, Collins’ Big Cat and Oxford Reading Tree to read and share with an adult – linked to phonics phases; and a library book taken from our 100-reading spine as a book to share for pleasure as part of their reading books.
  • Pupils on the reading scheme and those who have progressed to ‘free’ reading continue to be given support in what books to choose as their individual reading book. 

How do we promote a love of reading?

  • All staff share their favourite books with the school community.
  • Daily story and poetry time promotes a love and enjoyment of a range of stories.
  • Our learning opportunities incorporate a range of fiction and non-fiction to expose pupils to different texts they may enjoy.
  • Guided reading sessions allow time for pupils to discuss their reading, helping them to make sense of what they have read.
  • Children are encouraged to share their love of reading; inviting them to recommend great reads to their peers.
  • Our reading spine books for EYFS & KS1; and KS2 are promoted within our library and across the school, including our website.
  • Parents in EYFS are invited to come in each week and share a story they love with the class.
  • In EYFS recommended books to support learning is shared with parents each half-term. 

How do we make sure pupils make progress?

  • Phonics is taught following the Monster Phonics (SSP) progression of sounds and HFWs. Sessions follow the same sequence of review, teach, practise, revise.
  • Assessment takes place regularly to identify gaps in learning – this informs future planning and intervention.
  • The school supports pupils to be expert readers by developing the key skills of clarifying, questioning, explaining, retrieval, summarising and predicting.

Clarifying: understanding and explaining what we have read including new vocabulary.

Questioning: ensuring we understand and checking others do too.

Explaining: developing an understanding of inference and deduction.

Retrieval: using and finding evidence in the text.

Summarising and sequencing: identifying the main points of the text by recapping prior reading, scanning, and using key words.

Predicting: Using the knowledge of what we have read to make predictions about forthcoming events or actions in a story.

  • Creating opportunities for children to read and re-read books that match the phonics stage taught.
  • There is a clear progression of reading skills from Reception to Year 6 against which children’s’ progress is measured, and gaps are noted and acted on.
  • Children who require further opportunity to practise reading because they do not read at home, are given priority to read to an adult in school.
  • We assist parents with supporting reading at home by videos on the school website (September 2022) hosting a reading and phonics information meeting, information is also available on the school’s website.
  • Monster Phonics also provide video support for parents which we direct them to during our information meetings: 

How do we match the pupils’ reading books to their phonics ability?

  • Children learning phonics in EYFS and KS1 follow a sequential order of books from our phonics scheme Monster Phonics; assessment informs which books match the pupil’s phonic ability. 
  • Once children reach the end of Monster Phonics Stage 10 they will move to two books: a banded book and a library book. 
  • Supplementing the Monster Phonic books children also take home a range of books from our previous Oxford Reading Tree scheme, these are banded to sit alongside the stages of phonics -Phase 2; Phase 3; Phase 4 and Phase 5; we monitor progress in reading and then match their ability to the stage of reading on the scheme, these are known as sharing books. 
  • Once children reach the end of Phase 5 they revert to colour banded books (Turquoise-Lime). 
  • When pupils are confident readers, they become ‘free’ readers; staff monitor the books chosen by ‘free readers’ to check the books are suitably challenging for them. 
  • Staff in EYFS and KS1 are responsible for changing and or checking the pupil’s reading books. 
  • Guided reading books are also selected carefully to challenge the reading of different groups of pupils in school.How do we teach phonics from the start? 
  • Phonics teaching begins when children start school, commencing with Phase 1 and the pre-skills required to ensure a smooth transition to learning letter sounds. 
  • Within the first half-term of starting school children complete baseline assessments in communication, language, and literacy to support and identify speech, language, and communication needs. 
  • Children begin learning letter sounds within Reception’s first half-term. Following the Monster Phonics system children are immersed in a directed teaching approach which embeds systematic phonics skills as the core skills for reading. Sounds are taught in a specific order, and regular assessment informs future planning and interventions. 
  • To support the learning in school, pupils take home phonics sheets that match the sounds they have learnt each week. Children also take-home flashcards of the HFWs taught that week. 

How do we support pupils to catch up?

  • Summative assessment data is submitted once a term and pupil progress analysis is taken from this. The lowest 20% of pupils are identified and targeted support/intervention is given. 
  • Formative data informs day-to-day planning and teachers adapt and change this according to the pupil needs. 
  • Pupils who did not achieve their phonics check receive interventions (daily reader/extra phonics support). 
  • Where progress becomes a concern, our SENCO is approached for advice and parents contacted.

How do we train staff to be reading experts?

  • All teaching staff receive phonics and decodable-reading training.