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Reading and Phonics at Wolsey House

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Phonics and Reading at Wolsey House 




Children in Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 have a daily phonics lesson. We use Read Write Inc., a synthetic phonics scheme that prepares children for learning to read by developing phonic knowledge and skills in a systematic programme. The aim of the scheme is to make children fluent readers by the age of seven.


  Foundation Stage


The children work on learning Speed Sounds Set 1. Where they learn the phonemes (the sounds) that 31 graphemes (letter or letters) make. They then learn to read words by blending the sounds (Green words are words that can be phonetically decoded). They also learn how to write these sounds and to spell these words.


When their blending skills are at an appropriate level they begin to read simple sentences in Ditty Books and then progress on to reading the Storybooks.

The children are also taught to read Red words – words that cannot be sounded out, such as the, my, said. The children have to read these words by sight remembering the word just by looking at it. Set 2 Speed sounds are also taught in Foundation stage 2 – these are the long vowel sounds.



   Key Stage 1


The teaching of phonics builds on the children’s phonic knowledge and skills through the teaching of Set 2 and Set 3 speed sounds so that by the end of the Read Write Inc. scheme the children know the 44 speech sounds in the English language and the GPC (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence) for these sounds i.e. how to read and write them.

The complex speed sounds chart shows all the sounds and ways they can be written that the children will learn by the end of Key Stage 1.


Complex speed sound chart


By Year 2 the children should know all of the GPCs and should be able to read hundreds of words, doing so in three ways:

  • Reading words automatically if they are very familiar
  • Decoding them quickly and silently because their sounding and blending routine is well established and secure
  • Decoding them aloud


The children will now be reading longer books in literacy lessons but will still be encouraged to use their phonic knowledge and skills to tackle difficult and unfamiliar words. Learning the key words (common exception words) by sight becomes more of a priority within Key Stage 1 to aid children’s fluency when reading longer texts.


   Key Stage 2


In Key Stage 2 we build on the children’s phonic knowledge and focus more on the spelling patterns and rules to aid decoding of new and unfamiliar words. For children who are still finding reading a challenge we will continue to use phonics as the prime strategy for ensuring that children learn to read.


   Phonics Screening Check


In June all children in Year 1 take part in a national phonics screening check. This is a statutory check for all pupils to ensure that high quality phonics teaching is taking place in schools across the country. The check consists of reading 40 words – 20 real words and 20 nonsense words.


Pupils who do not meet the expected score at the end of Year 1 will receive extra phonic support and will retake the phonic screen at the end of Year 2. Their progress is tracked carefully and continuously.


   Phonic Assessments


In the Foundation Stage and Years 1 and 2 individual phonic assessments are regularly carried out to track progress and attainment so that teaching can be matched to needs and targeted support can be put in place to ensure that children master this fundamental skill to ensure they develop as readers.


   Phonics and Reading the Bigger Picture


Phonics is the prime method for teaching children to decode but it is not the only way to teach children to read. Phonics will only work in an environment where speaking and listening skills are promoted and developed as well. Children also need to be regularly exposed to a wide range of quality texts therefore we ensure that the children are read aloud to by adults within the school day and given the opportunity to question and discuss texts that they themselves would not be able to read.

The children also take part in Shared Reading sessions within literacy lessons where specific reading skills are taught. In Guided Reading sessions the children develop their reading skills with the support of an adult. The children also have Individual Reading books appropriate to their ability to read at home and to adults within school.



Learning to read is an incredibly complex skill to master and children develop at different rates. Using phonics to teach reading provides children with the essential knowledge and skills to succeed at this most vital skill for life.




Guided Reading - Information for Parents


During guided reading, the children work in groups on various activities. There are four or five groups in a class, each group at around the same level in their reading. The teacher works on guided reading with each group once a week on a rota basis. This is an opportunity for the teacher to give individual help and to assess each child’s progress and needs. This assessment affects planning for future teaching. There is a mix of reading aloud and discussing part of the book that has been read previously in preparation for the session. While the teacher is working with one group, the other groups are undertaking focused literacy activities independently, or working with a teaching assistant.


In KS1, they could be doing activities such as working with words and sounds, listening and reading with an audio book, reading together, playing word games or making sentences.


In KS2, they could be reading aloud in the group, continuing comprehension activities started the previous day, summarising a passage to the rest of the group, predicting what happens next, completing a character analysis, research reading or working on a focused grammar activity. While the children are reading and discussing, they are also analysing the layout of the book and will use the good points in their own writing. The children read and study many children’s classics and even parts of Shakespeare’s plays. They look at a variety of poems of all kinds from different periods. Other cultures are represented by such texts as the Greek myths or traditional and modern stories from India and Africa. Although the children will usually be reading in groups of five, of similar ability, at other times the teacher might decide to pair children up across groups if the work is the same. Less fluent readers may be paired with more fluent readers to tackle a task together. In this way the less fluent reader gets a helping hand while the more fluent reader is challenged to read in an interesting way, to explain points clearly and to demonstrate a high level of knowledge, understanding and maturity.


Individual Readers at Wolsey House


All children bring home an Individual Reader a book at an appropriate level for their reading development. The Individual Reader books are organised into Stages and 3 tracks within each stage. Children progress at different rates and so this is only a guide as to the stage of text and age of child.



Expected year group to be reading it.

1 - 3

Foundation Stage 2


Year 1


Year 2


Year 3


Year 4


Year 5


Year 6



Within each stage the books are organised into 3 tracks – Fast, Medium and Slow. The children start on the Fast Track in each stage and when they have read the last book in the fast track they are assessed on their reading of the book. Their reading accuracy, reading skills and understanding of the book is assessed. If they pass the assessment they move up a stage. If they do not pass the assessment then they move onto the medium track, staying on the same stage (difficulty of text). There is an assessment at the end of each track allowing them to progress up a stage frequently.


Children will be deemed a free reader when they have passed a stage 16 assessment.


Children in KS1 have access to Bug Club reading materials – an online scheme of e-reading books that can be used at home to increase reading miles.


Remember this key phrase – “Children who read succeed



               Reading Information for Parents


Children are natural learners. They are constantly learning about their environment through interaction, exploration, trial and error, and "having a go" at things.


Children watch what adults do and then act out what they have seen. This role-play of adult behaviour is an intrinsic component of childhood learning. As a child's world of experience expands, so deeper understandings are constructed. New learning is always built upon existing foundations, and existing structures are constantly being adapted to accommodate fresh insights.


From a very early age children can be encouraged to enjoy books by sharing them with adults. The six-month old child who turns the pages of a board book is beginning to behave like a reader.


The adult can build upon this by giving support and encouragement. By demonstrating how books work, talking about the illustrations and indicating how they relate to print, the adult is showing the child the meaning and purposes for reading.


Children need to understand this so that they will be motivated to read. Children can be encouraged to retell stories and by valuing their attempts to make sense of the print, the adult can foster an enthusiasm for and a positive attitude to reading. Children also learn from their environment and their interaction with others. In our literate society, environmental print demonstrates the many purposes for reading and encourages children to develop an understanding to the written word. Children, therefore, become literate in the same way as they learn to speak their home language. By experimenting, taking risks and interacting with more skilled language users, children are reading for real purposes in meaningful context.




It is important to create the correct literate environment for children to develop their reading skills confidently and comfortably.


"Children should be encouraged from the earliest stage to pay attention to the various forms of the printed word and the functions it serves."


Children need to understand that there are many different purposes for reading

e.g. information, pleasure and instruction.


They are surrounded by print from their earliest days, at home, and in the wider community.


Teachers and parents can inspire this interest by taking children on a "print walk" around the neighbourhood; collecting examples of notices, signs, advertisements, and labels etc. including non-written symbols and in some areas printed in different language, scripts and visual texts.


Within the home there are often newspapers, magazines, books, letters, forms, circulars and food packages. Television advertisements, with the spoken and written word and supporting visual images also have a powerful influence and are assimilated easily by children.


Within the community there are many examples of environmental print e.g. street names, large advertisements, hoardings, shop signs, notice boards etc. In the shops and supermarkets children soon learn to recognise foods, sweets, crisps by their distinctive labels.


Children's awareness of print must be acknowledged and valued. Building on their knowledge and experience, adults and children can work together to create a print rich environment. In this process, opportunities will arise for adults to model, read and share the meaning of the written word.


Pupils should encounter an environment in which they are surrounded by books and other reading material presented in an inviting and attractive way. The reading material should include material which relates to the real world, such as labels, captions, notices, children's newspapers, books of instruction, plans and maps, diagrams, computer print outs and visual display." English in the National Curriculum





We believe that parents play a vital role in helping their child learn to read. After all they taught the child to talk. School and home working in partnership together create the perfect setting for encouraging a love of reading. We appreciate the commitment Parents give in helping their children to become confident readers. In terms of supporting their reading at home, the children need to be encouraged to read stories, poetry, plays and all kinds of information texts. They also need to be able to choose the kinds of books that they enjoy. They may already be hooked onto a particular writer or type of book, or some may be more tuned into magazines or information texts.


We believe that children should:                            

  • Behave like readers
  • Be confident
  • Enjoy books
  • Talk about the books they have read
  • Acquire a skill, which they will use throughout life





Take every opportunity to read with your child. A wide variety of books/texts are available from:

• The local library

  • Shops in town
  • The Internet



Print is all around us. Even when time is scarce, you can read with your child e.g. signs in the street, labels in the supermarket, the TV page in the newspaper.





We encourage you to read often with your child at home. Every time you read with your child please sign their reading card so that they can earn house points.


Here are a few things to remember when reading at home with your child.


  • Make it enjoyable not a chore
  • Little and often rather than one long session once a week
  • Turn off distractions – e.g. the TV
  • Give them your undivided attention
  • Don’t pick up every fault or make them correct everything – this could have a negative effect and discourage them
  • Praise, praise, praise so they want to do it again!


As your child progresses through the stages it becomes more important not just to check if they can read the words but to talk about what is happening in the story, why things happen, what the characters are like and what words mean. This will help develop your child’s comprehension skills – their ability to understand what they are reading.



Bed Time Stories


Reading to your child is vital for a child of any age. It helps develop their understanding of vocabulary, stories and helps to build a love of books and a sense of mental wellbeing as they share a special moment with a parent/carer.


SUPPORTING READING - In terms of supporting their reading at home, your children need to be encouraged to read stories, poetry, plays and all kinds of information texts. They also need to be able to choose the kinds of books that they enjoy. They may already be hooked onto a particular writer or type of book, or some may be more tuned into magazines or information texts.  


READING ALOUD – As your children progress through the school, they may begin to feel that they do not need to read aloud. All children, regardless of ability, will benefit from reading to someone. It gives them the chance to read fluently with expression in order to keep the listener’s attention. Many really enjoy having an opportunity to share their book with a family member or friend. Check your child really understands the book by asking them to relate the story to you.




What can I do to help my child at Reception, Year 1 and 2?


  • Try to set aside a regular time as often as you can to read and enjoy books.


  • Let your child hold the book


  • Point to the words as you read them


  • Use the pictures as well; there is often an additional story in them


  • Allow plenty of time for discussion before you turn over a page. A valuable question is: "What do you think will happen next?"


  • Let your child read the story to you afterwards, even if this is reciting by heart, or making the story up from the pictures. This is a very important stage.


  • Memorising is not cheating. Make reading fun!


  • Children learn to behave like readers by these activities. Praise all their attempts


  • If your child is too tired or reluctant to join in, just make it an opportunity for you to read in a relaxed and enjoyable way.


  • As well as reading aloud to someone who is listening carefully and giving help where needed, children need to talk about the book and be read to themselves.


  • You could read a book to your child and get him/ her to join in when he/ she can. Children can do this best with rhymes and repeating patterns of words and at the end of sentences.


   Re-read books that are familiar to your child:


  • they enjoy and get satisfaction from re-reading good books.   This helps to turn them on to reading and gives them   confidence.
  • when they know most of the words, they can then turn their   attention to reading fluently and with expression
  • children can read on their own without having to wait for someone to help them. This means they can do more reading which helps them to become better readers.
  • when children know most of the words, they can learn about common letter strings, about forming new words from the ones they already know and about similarities and differences between words.
  • recorded books are excellent, as they can let your child experience books that he/she couldn’t manage on his/her own.
  • check your child really understands the book by asking them to relate the story to you.



When your child reads and gets a word wrong, allow them to complete the sentence before correcting them. Children can often work out the ‘difficult’ word by understanding the rest of the sentence. You can also help your child to break down ‘difficult’ words into parts that they recognise. Do not worry if your child's reading is not word perfect. If they are making sense of the text, this does not matter e.g. "house" instead of "home", "Good dog, Spot" instead of "Good boy, Spot". It would matter, however, if they read: "He got on his house and rode away", as this would have changed the meaning. Always be ready to take over if your child is struggling. With your help they will succeed and will want to read more and more as a result.




  • Which letter phonemes do you recognise? Can you blend them together?
  • Does the word make sense? Read the sentence again to check.
  • Is there another word that would make sense?
  • Is it a word you know?
  • Have you read the word before? Is it on another page?
  • Are there any bits of the word you recognise?
  • Miss out the word, say ‘mmmm’, finish the sentence. Then go back and work out what the word was.
  • In a rhyming book, think of a word that rhymes.
  • Use the first 1 or 2 sounds with another strategy




What can I do to help my child at Years 3 and 4?


  • If your child has not yet joined the local library and you can get to it, now is the time to join. Children need to widen their reading and to use and browse through non-fiction.


  • They need to be encouraged to read stories, poetry, plays and all kinds of information texts. They also need to be able to choose the kinds of books that they enjoy. It is at around this age that children can get hooked on to a particular writer or type of book.


  • There is evidence that by the time they are in Year 4, some boys may be losing interest in reading and not doing as well as girls. Some boys are more tuned into magazines, information texts of all kinds and comics. They need opportunities for this kind of reading at home.


  • Libraries do an excellent job, but there is nothing like owning your own books. Having books of your own that you can go back to, talk about and swap with a friend, collect and treasure is really important. It can make a big difference to reading progress.


  • Your child will be bringing books home from school regularly. He/she may not need to read aloud so that your job in helping him/her will change. Even as adults, we like being read to, so don’t give up on this. Audio books are excellent, as they can let your child experience books that he/she couldn’t manage on his/her own.


  • Your child might benefit from reading to younger children. This gives him/her the chance to read fluently with expression in order to keep the listener’s attention. Other adults who are familiar to the children e.g. grandparents are also good listeners and readers too.


  • Check your child really understands the book by asking them to relate the story to you. Allow your child to reread favourite stories. This will encourage them to recognise patterns in the story and new words.


  • When your child reads and gets a word wrong, allow them to complete the sentence before correcting them.  Sometimes children can “self-correct” and work out the ‘difficult or unfamiliar’ word from interpreting/the rest of the sentence. You can also help your child to break down ‘difficult’ words into parts that they recognise.



What can I do to help my child at Years 5 and 6?


  • Throughout Years 5 and 6 children will still benefit from your help and interest.


  • Carry on helping with learning rules and patterns in spelling. Apart from being a checker and making sure that your child uses the strategy of LOOK, SAY, COVER, THINK, WRITE and CHECK.


  • Word games, crosswords, word searches, Scrabble and other word puzzles are good at this stage. For reading, you might think about an encyclopaedia, book of records etc. Many children of this age like collecting facts and they are improving their reading at the same time. Joke books, verses and poetry books may also be appreciated – they can be dipped into at odd moments.


  • A good dictionary and thesaurus are useful to have to hand for doing homework or for browsing through. You might give your child a subscription to a magazine that reflects his/her interests (e.g. fanzine ones) as a Christmas or birthday present. There are also junior supplements in many newspapers.


  • The other side of reading is getting into and enjoying a good children’s novel. Children’s libraries, book shops and the school can help you with selection, but at this stage it is mainly your child who will choose. Try to guarantee a quiet time and space for regular reading and homework. Take an interest in whatever your child has been set to do and have an agreed time slot for doing it in.


  • Keep up with buying books (and books on CD).


This stage is important for your child as a life-long reader. If he/she is interested now, it is likely that he/she will continue to enjoy reading, with all the benefits that it brings.





It is important that the Reading Record reflects the child's reading patterns.


Regular comments from the parent/carer, linked to the questions below, are also needed to show that the child is extending his/her reading through questioning and interaction with an adult.


The following list is not on exhaustive list but offers suggestions that may be appropriate. It is very important to remember that the enjoyment factor is always worth commenting on. Parents are not expected to comment on each of the following areas after each reading session.


  • How enthusiastic is your child about the choice of book?
  • Can your child remember the story so far?
  • Is your child reading using only the pictures for clues?
  • Does your child use their phonic knowledge to blend?
  • Does your child understand that the words they are reading mean something? 
  • Can your child read words out of context e.g. when you point to a word without reading the whole sentence?
  • Is your child confident to attempt new words?
  • What reading strategies is your child using e.g. phonics, use of the picture, use of the context?
  • Can your child follow the text without using a finger or marker?
  • Is there a pattern to the mistakes your child is making e.g. words ending in "ed" or starting in "sh"?
  • Does your child recognise mistakes and self-correct?
  • Is your child recognising many key words?
  • Is your child aware of punctuation?
  • Is your child reading with expression?
  • How long is your child able to sustain reading?





As your child/ren progress through the school, they may begin to feel that they do not need to read aloud. All children, regardless of ability, will benefit from reading to someone. It gives them the chance to read fluently with expression in order to keep the listener’s attention. Many really enjoy having an opportunity to share their book with a family member or friend. Check your child really understands the book by asking them to relate the story to you together with asking them appropriate questions.


Some confident readers may reach the stage where they no longer wish to read to an adult and want to read silently to themselves. The interaction between the parent and child changes at this stage. To ensure that the child's reading development continues to move forward, we would encourage parents to question the child about what they are reading, at an appropriate time, to extend their reading and share their enjoyment of the book.


The following questions will provide ideas that you can extend to suit individual needs.


Examples of questions to ask:


  • What is the title of the book?
  • What kind of book is it? (Fiction, non-fiction, poetry, short story etc.) Who is the author/illustrator?
  • Have you read any other books by the same author?
  • What made you choose this book? (author, cover, illustration, recommendation etc.) Did you read the blurb before selecting the book?
  • Could you guess what the book might have been about before you started reading it? What were the clues?
  • Have you read this book before? Why have you chosen it again?



Questions to ask before your child begins or resumes their book:


  • What has happened so far?
  • What do you think will happen next?
  • What are the clues that make you think this?
  • How would you like the story to end?
  • Are you involved in the story? Why?
  • Where is the story set? Is there a description?
  • When is the story set? (Past, present, future)
  • Who are the characters in the story? Who do you like/dislike? Why?
  • Do you feel similar to any of the characters? Tell me what is similar?
  • Questions to ask when your child has finished their book...
  • Was the book as you expected?
  • Was there anything you disliked about the story?
  • At what point did you decide you liked/disliked the story?
  • If you have read this book before, did you enjoy it more this time?
  • Did you notice anything special about the way language is used in this book?  (dialect, descriptive writing etc.)
  • If you had written this book, how would you have made it better?
  • Has anything that happens in this book ever happened to you?
  • Can you describe an exciting moment or favourite part of the story?
  • Is the story straightforward? Is there more than one story happening at the same time?
  • Who was telling the story?
  • Was this the most important character in the story?
  • Do we get to know the characters quickly or do they build up slowly through the book?
  • Was the ending as you expected? Did you like the way the story ended?
  • Do you like the illustrations? Do you have a favourite?
  • Would you recommend this book to your friends? Tell me what you would say to a friend?





We would like all of our children to enjoy reading rather than see it as an effort/hard work/something they do not enjoy.


These are some possible strategies to support you if reading does become a challenge:


  • Try to avoid confrontation
  • Offer alternative reading material, e.g. internet access, magazines, non – fiction etc...
  • Encourage reading at different times of the day or week
  • Buy/borrow books on tapes from the local library and then you can listen whilst in the car of before bed
  • Share reading activities and interact with the text together • Share the problem with your child’s teacher, we are here to help!











Help your child develop reading skills


Questions to ask your child when reading


Progressive questions to be used with fiction books


Where does the story take place?

When did the story take place?

What did the character look like?

Where did the character live?

Who are the key characters in the book?

What happened in the story?

What kinds of people are in the story?

Explain something that happened at a specific point in the story?


If you were going to interview this character / author which questions would you ask?

Which is your favourite part? Why?

Who would you like to meet most in the story? Why?

What do you think would happen next if the story carried on past the end of the book?

Who was the storyteller? How do you know?

Predict what you think is going to happen next. Why do you think this?

Is this a place you could visit? Why / why not?

How is the main character feeling at the start / middle / end of the story? Why do they feel that way? Does this surprise you?


Were you surprised by the ending? Is that what you expected? Why / why not?

What is the main event of the story? Why do you think this?

How has the text been organised?

Why do you think authors use short sentences?

How do you think it would end / should end?

Has the author used an unusual layout in the text? If so, describe it and say why you think they did this?

Has the author used a variety of sentence structures?

Has the author put certain words in bold or italic? Why have they done this?


Why did the author choose this title?

Do you want to read the rest of text? How does the author encourage you to read the rest of the text?

Can you find some examples of effective description? What makes them effective?

Which part of the story best describes the setting?

Can you find examples of powerful adjectives? What do they tell you about a character or setting?

Can you find examples of powerful adverbs? What do they tell you about a character, their actions or the setting?

Find an example of a word you don’t know the meaning of. Using the text around it, what do you think it means?


Can you think of another story that has a similar theme e.g. good over evil, weak over strong, wise over foolish?

Why did the author choose this setting?

What makes this a successful story? What evidence do you have to justify your opinion?

How could the story be improved or changed for the better?

What was the most exciting part of the story? Explain your answer as fully as you can.

What genre is this story? How do you know?

What was the least exciting part of story? Explain your answer as fully as you can.

When the author writes in short sentences, what does this tell you?


Do you know another story, which deals with the same issues e.g. social, cultural, moral issues?

Have you ever been in a similar situation to a character in the book? What happened?

How would you have felt in the same situation?

What would you have done differently to the character in a particular situation from the book?

How would you feel if you were treated in the same way as the main character?

What did the story make you think of?

Have you read any other stories that have similar characters to this one? If so, which story was it and what happened?

Do you think this book is trying to give the reader a message? It so, what is it?



Progressive questions to be used with non-fiction books


What is the text about? What is the title of the text? Who is the author of the text?

What kinds of things would you expect to see in this book?

Can you find examples of different features of this text type?

Find something that interests you from the text. Explain why you chose that particular part.

Where would you look to find out what a technical word means?

What is on the cover of the book? What does this tell you about the content inside?


Which parts of the book could help you find the information you need?

When would you use the contents page in the book?

When would you use the index page in the book?

What sort of person do you think would use this book?

When might someone use this book? Why?

Can you suggest ideas for other sections or chapters to go into the book?

Do you think the author of the book is an ‘expert’ about the topic of the book? Why / why not?


Can you find an example of a page you think has an interesting layout? Why did you choose it?

Why have some of the words been written in italics?

What are the subheadings for?

Why have some of words been written in bold?

How does the layout help the reader?

What is the purpose of the pictures?

Can you find examples of words which tell you the order of something?

What kind of a text is this? How do you know?


Why does this book contain technical vocabulary?

Find an example of a technical word. Read the sentence it’s in. What do you think it means based on and how it’s used in the sentence?

Are there any examples of persuasive language?

Why do we need a glossary in a text?


Why has the writer written this text?

Have you found any of the illustrations, diagrams or pictures useful? Why / why not? Try to explain fully.

Why did the writer try to present the information in the way they did?

How could the information be presented better?

What makes the text successful?

Are there any features it hasn’t got? Why do you think it doesn’t have them?

Can you think of another text that is similar to this one? What are the similarities and differences between them?





Some useful websites for you:—nursery rhymes