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The teaching of phonics and reading at Greystones Primary School

In addition to reading the information that is detailed below, you may like to follow these links for more details about what is taught and expectations at Greystones (just click on the words):

1. Phonics expectations

2. Foundation phonics overview

3. Foundation Lilac Books

3. Year 1 phonics overview

4. Year 2 phonics overview

5. Phonics in KS2

6. Book Study expectations - how we approach teaching book study/comprehension

7. Key Stage 2 - approaches to teaching reading

8. Reading progression at Greystones

9. Parent information for Foundation and Key Stage 1

10. Parent information for Key Stage 2

11. Phonics Pure Sounds Teaching Video




Learning to Read at Greystones 

To teach phonics and early reading we use the accredited Pearson Phonics Bug as the basis of our work.

Reading in our school is a priority.  

Phonics should be the primary strategy that children use to learn to read and write even after KS1. 

Teaching Reading Skills 
The National Curriculum defines reading as a combination of word-reading skills and comprehension. At Greystones we teach these skills explicitly in a number of ways: 

  • Guided Reading sessions (all year groups)  

  • Book Study lessons (whole-class reading lessons in Y2 – Y6) 

  • Discrete daily synthetic phonics lessons (FS2, KS1 and also, where necessary, in KS2) 

  • 1:1 reading teaching with a Teacher or Teaching Assistant (in FS2, KS1) 

  • English lessons 

  • Additional individual and small group reading interventions (for those children whose attainment in any aspect of reading is a cause for concern in all year groups). 

  • Children also apply their reading skills in all areas of the curriculum. They use independent and supported reading to further their learning.  

Reading For Pleasure 

  • As teachers we understand how important it is that children have positive reading experiences they enjoy and learn from so they are motivated to read independently.   

  • Children in each class have opportunities every day to choose and read from a wide selection of texts (stories, picture books, information texts, reference books, comics, poetry, joke books, song lyrics etc).  

  • Children in all classes are regularly read to e.g. during story-time at the end of the day and they take part in frequent discussions about stories, poetry and information texts.  

  • Across school, Guided Reading and Book Study texts have been carefully selected so children participate with interest and enthusiasm. All children have opportunities to visit our school local library once a week and can choose to take home a book to read for pleasure. 

  • We facilitate whole school events and take part in national book awards to promote a love of reading: World Book Day, Sheffield Children’s Books Awards and UKLA Book Awards. 

  • We use school reading awards to motivate and celebrate children’s reading.  


Guided Reading and Book Study: 
Guided Reading involves a group of children with similar reading attainment reading with their class teacher for 20 – 30 minutes. Meanwhile the other children in the class participate in independent, reading-focussed activities. This lesson is repeated daily. Word-reading and comprehension skills are taught during Guided Reading.  
Book Study focuses on teaching comprehension skills and involves the whole class reading the same text. The teacher reads aloud while the children follow in their own texts. Each lesson has a specific learning objective and the children are taught to discuss and answer focussed questions about the text.  In Year 2 to Year 6 we have combined book study and guided reading into one reading approach so the children are being taught specific skills for reading throughout the year.   


Reading Interventions:  

Improving the reading skills of children who are attaining below their year group expectations is every teacher’s highest priority. Teachers work to provide quality first teaching for all children in their class. Children whose word-reading or comprehension skills are giving cause for concern (i.e. they are unlikely to meet the national expectations for their year group by the end of the year) are given regular 1:1 and small group reading support within their class. In addition to this, their learning is supported in the following ways: 
Fischer Family Trust (1:1 reading support with a specially trained teaching assistant, tailored to child’s specific gaps in reading skills. Three times per week for half an hour).  
1:1 Reading (In Year 1 and Year 2, each Teaching Assistant is assigned 2 children for each term. The TA reads for 10 minutes three times a week with each child, tailoring the reading instruction to that child’s reading needs).                                           


Partnership with Home: 

We encourage parents to read regularly to their children so children enjoy books and are motivated to read independently. We also run reading workshops to explain how we teach reading at school so parents feel confident about supporting their child’s reading at home. Parents of children in FS2 and KS1 are strongly encouraged to practise reading at home at least three times each week and we support parents with ideas of how to go about this.  All children have a reading diary, which explains our school approach to teaching phonics and reading and encourages children to read at home.  Children are rewarded for reading at home.   


Greystones Phonics Expectations. 

With the increased expectation of what our children need to achieve by the end of each year group it is important we are aware of how this has impacted on our expectations for phonics for lower down school. 

Teaching approaches 

  • Whole class teaching with TAs supporting in class and leading interventions where children have gaps. 

  • Teachers are aware of each child’s current phonics knowledge. 

  • Children are allocated a fully decodable book once a week matched closely with their current phonics knowledge to read a home. 

  • Children have access to fully decodable on-line books at home.  Children are given access to the phase they are currently working within. 

  • Children have access to colour book banded reading books to take home.   

  • Children read fully decodable books with the class teacher once a week in small groups.  LA readers are 1:1 daily readers with T or TA. 

  • Teachers follow the letters and Sounds sequence of learning, taught through Phonics Bug.  

  • Phonics intervention groups for LA readers in LKS2.     



  • Takes place every half term using the agreed format (saved in F drive- phonics) 

  • Recorded half termly on the phonics tracker (FS and KS1) 


Phases and end of year outcomes for children working at the expected standard 

  • FS - secure in Phase 2 and 3 in terms of recognising, reading and applying to writing. (90%+) This includes all high frequency and common exception words for FS.  

Greater depth emerging within phase 4 and 5.  

  • Y1 -  secure in Phases 2, 3, 4 and developing in Phase 5 in terms of recognising, reading and applying to writing. (90%+) This includes all high frequency and common exception words for Y1. 

Greater depth to be secure in phase 5 in reading and writing.  

  • Y2 - secure in Phase 2, 3, 4, 5 in terms of recognising, reading and applying to writing (90%+) and developing within phase 6.  This includes all high frequency and common exception words for Y2. 

Greater depth to be secure in phase 6 in reading and consistently using it in writing. 

  • Y3 – whole class embedding/mastering Phase 5 and 6 throughout 1st ½ term (Autumn 1)  

 (Interventions for children with gaps in 5 or lower.) 


  • Y3 - National Curriculum spellings from Autumn 2 but phonics should still be taught and applied throughout English. 

Greystones Primary School’s approaches to teaching phonics and early reading 



All children take part in daily, whole class phonics sessions led by class teachers.  Teachers use intervention groups and teaching strategies to support children with gaps and enable ‘exceeding’ children to progress at a quicker pace.  All intervention groups are monitored closely by teachers and are evaluated at the end of every half term.  



All children are assessed at the beginning of Year 1 and at the end of every half-term, following a unit of work, using the school’s individual phonics assessments and phonics tracker.  Gap analysis of individual assessments informs intervention groups for the following term.   

Children who enter Y1 ‘exceeding’ 

These children are given opportunities to: 

  • Identify and apply alternative phase 5 graphemes to reading and writing (eg. phase 5 alternative spellings phoneme spotter stories) 

  • Practise reading and spelling/writing polysyllabic words 

  • Practise reading and writing phase 5 HFW 

  • Practise writing sentences to improve independent writing (further practise in segmenting and composition)  

  • Read decodable texts with a higher challenge (eg. Rapid Readers) 


From Summer 2, a small group of exceeding children might be taught Phase 6 spelling rules during daily phonics sessions. 


This group would be led by a Y1 teacher.   


Children who are ‘exceeding’ also have opportunities to extend their phonics learning through daily writing and Guided Reading sessions.  For example, a class teacher will direct the ‘exceeding’ children to use their Phase 5 sound and word mats and encourage children to segment polysyllabic words in their writing; in Guided Reading sessions, children will have the opportunity to read more challenging decodable texts (matched closely with their current phonics knowledge) and, when appropriate, high quality texts to develop comprehension skills and a wider love of reading.   


Children with gaps in their prior learning 

Interventions for these children are designed to meet the needs of specific children and take place x 3 weekly for 15 minutes (little and often).   These sessions are led by an experienced TA and take place at separate times to whole class phonics sessions.  For example, the focus of an early phonics phase 2 intervention at the beginning of the Autumn term might be on reading (blending) and writing (segmenting) CVC words. 

Children with gaps in their learning, or who are working below AREs, will also read a phonetically decodable book 1:1 with a teacher or TA every day so that they are given the support to get to AREs as soon as possible.        


Application of phonics to reading 

  • All children take part in daily Guided Reading sessions (30 mins). 

  • Children either read aloud in a small group with a teacher or TA, complete a phonics based activity, a reading comprehension activity independently or read a book for pleasure. 

  • All children read 95% decodable books matched closely with their current phonics knowledge.  When appropriate, children read decodable books matched with what has been taught in phonics on that day/ week.   

  • All children take home a 95% decodable book, matched closely with their current phonics knowledge, once a week, to read and re-read independently at home.  (*To practise phonics and word recognition)  Children also have access to on-line decodable books, matched to the phase they are currently working within.   

  • Children also take home a high quality, age appropriate text, once a week, from the home reading baskets, classrooms or the school library, to share with an adult at home. (*To develop language, comprehension and writing skills; to encourage a love of reading) 

  • Reading leaders lead parent workshops at the beginning of the year (September) so that parents know how to support their children at home.  


Book Study 

From Spring 1, as well as continuing to read phonetically decodable books matched closely with their current knowledge of GPCs, children complete a daily book study activity to develop language and comprehension skills and develop a wider knowledge and love of books. 

Book Study activities are taught to: 

  • Develop children’s knowledge of books by introducing children to different genres and authors 

  • Instil a love of reading in children by sharing the best non-fiction books, stories and poems 

  • Develop children’s vocabulary 

  • Give opportunities for children to share their opinions about books and make links with other familiar books  

  • Give opportunities for children to practise their comprehension skills: retrieving information to answer literal questions, making predictions, summarising and ordering a text; using evidence from the text to make inferences.      


Application of phonics to writing 

  • Phonics sessions are taught before writing so that children have the opportunity to apply what they have learnt in their phonics sessions to writing.  This teaching sequence (phonics, then writing) also helps children to understand the purpose of phonics. 

  • Teachers explicitly reference phonics when teaching writing. 

  • Teachers refer to working walls and classroom displays when teaching phonics and writing.   

  • All children have access to sound mats and high frequency word mats at their tables; they are taught how to use these independently.   

  • Teachers teach and model correct letter formation in phonics and writing sessions according to the school’s handwriting policy.  Children also take part in daily handwriting sessions (15 mins) using handwriting books (with coloured lines).          



Following the new school spelling policy, children practise weekly spellings at home linked with a phoneme we have practised at school in phonics that week and a selection of tricky words.  They also have opportunities to practise and share their spelling words at school in phonics, Guided Reading and handwriting sessions.  

The words are differentiated according to the graphemes and length of the words eg. monosyllabic or polysyllabic.  (See Y1 Spellings document for more information)    

To develop vocabulary and encourage parental engagement, the children also collect and practise their own words which contain the ‘sound of the week’.  There is no formal spelling test.   


Instilling a love of reading early on (FS, Y1 and Y2

  • Reading leaders are knowledgeable about quality children’s literature and stay up to date with new book releases.  They share their knowledge with classroom teachers.  All teachers have a selection of quality texts in their classrooms to share with the children. 

  • As well as taking a decodable book home once a week, children also choose a book from a home reading basket to ‘share’ at home.   

  • All classrooms have an area dedicated for reading, where children can enjoy reading for pleasure. 

  • All teachers deliver story time sessions every day, modelling fluent and expressive storytelling and sharing a range of genres by different authors.  

  • In FS and Y1, children are encouraged to bring in their favourite books and stories to share in ‘show and tell’ sessions.  

  • All children visit the library once a week and are encouraged to choose a book to ‘share’ at home.  

  • Teachers use reading displays to promote a love of reading.  eg. Julia Donaldson displays in FS, Top 50 Recommended Books in Year 1; Mystery Readers (teachers sharing their favourite books) in Y2.    

  • High quality book recommendations are shared with parents.   

  • FS and KS1 teachers lead a reading assembly once a week, linked with Global Learning.  

  • Children take part in local and national book award competitions, (Sheffield Children’s Book Wards; UKLA Book Awards) and reading competitions in school (Poetry Slam; World Book Day competitions). 

  • Children look forward to the school book fair, which is held once a year. 

  • World Book Day is celebrated every year.  All children take part in interactive, child led, reading based activities related to a genre or author.       

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