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Phonics and Reading

What is phonics?


Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully by decoding the text in front of them.

They are taught how to:

  • recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
  • identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make - such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’; and
  • blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.

Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.


Why phonics?


Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through 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.

Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment.

Children who have been taught phonics also tend to read more accurately than those taught using other methods, such as ‘look and say’. This includes children who find learning to read difficult, for example those who have dyslexia.


How Phonics is taught at St Thomas of Canterbury?


At St Thomas of Canterbury, the systematic teaching of Phonics is taught using Letters and Sounds. Throughout EYFS and KS1, Phonics is delivered through 30 minute daily sessions and is differentiated to cater to where the children are in their learning journey of Phonics. Children who also need to continue developing their Phonics skills will do so into KS2.


Assessment of Phonics


Alongside the continued teacher assessments of Phonics that take place daily, the children’s progress is tracked termly by the Phonics co-ordinators. This allows the progress of every child to be monitored, so further support can be offered if needed. At the end of Year 1, the Year 1 Phonics Screening check will take place. This is a national assessment that all Year 1 children take part in. Over the year, the staff involved will prepare the children for this screening check, so they know what to expect. Further information on how to support your child in preparation for the screening check will be offered nearer the time.




'Early Literacy Support' may be offered to develop English skills during Year 1. A highly effective reading intervention called 'Reading Recovery' may be administered if a child is struggling to learn to read using these tradition methods. Your class teacher will discuss this with you.


If you would like to find out more about phonics, visit the phonics section of the Department for Education website.

Parents Guide to Phonics

How we teach reading


Reading is a priority here at St. Thomas of Canterbury, and we pride ourselves on our many achievements! Reading is a core skill that allows children access to all areas of the enriched curriculum, and is in fact an essential and rewarding life skill. Books are placed at the heart of every topic, and reading is integral to everyday school life.



Our amazing library is filled with an abundance of picture books, modern and classic novels, inspirational biographies and exciting non-fiction! Request a book, and our super librarians will try their hardest to find/buy the book for you.

 National book events such as ‘World Book Day’ are also celebrated, alongside visits from authors and poets!



During Guided Reading, the class teacher teaches the children in small (similar ability) groups. Here they learn to apply their phonics, use the pictures, segment and blend words, read around the tricky word, etc. They learn to ask and answer questions about the book to develop their comprehension (understanding) of the text.

Whilst the children are still learning the mechanics of reading, an adult in school will listen to them read. Supporting your child to read at home every night will help your child to make progress.

Our reading scheme


In Nursery, pupils take home a reading book from their Lending Library to share with Parents. From Reception to Year 2, a contextual book and a phonic book are sent home. This encourages the children to practise phonic skills, at their level.

By Key Stage 2, children should ideally be a reader. At this stage, they still continue to read daily at home, working through our scheme of books. (This comprehensive scheme includes: Oxford Reading tree Songbirds, Floppy’s Phonics, and Project X; Pearson’s Bug Club, Tree Tops, Graphic Novels and more!)

By Upper KS2, pupils often complete the scheme books, and become ready to choose their own books from our library. At this point, children are competent readers - operating at the age appropriate level.