St Barnabas C of E Primary School

St Barnabas C of E Primary School

Aspire, Believe - Together Achieve

Reading is an essential life skill and as a result we place strong emphasis on children becoming confident, strong readers who enjoy reading for purpose and pleasure.


In our Foundation Stage Class, Year 1 and Year 2, phonics is used as a crucial tool for helping children to become competent readers early in their school life.

What is phonics?

Phonics is a systematic way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. Whilst there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, spoken English uses about 42 sounds (phonemes). These phonemes are represented by a letter or group of letters (graphemes). The teaching of phonics begins by teaching children the letter sounds in isolation and then building up to blending the sounds together to read whole words. In turn children are then able to use their phonic skills to segment words to support with spelling.

How is phonics taught at our school?

Our approach to teaching phonics is through using ‘Letters and Sounds’ which breaks the teaching of phonics down into six phases which are taught throughout the EYFS and Key Stage one. We use the Jolly Phonics program which uses actions and rhymes to help us remember the sounds and Read Write Inc which help us form the letters.

Every child in Reception and Key Stage One receives daily focused phonics sessions. This is also provided for children in Key Stage 2 who require additional support with phonics. We aim for our lessons to be fast paced, engaging and fun. We expect children to use the skills they have acquired through phonics teaching in all reading, writing and spelling activities, therefore we ensure that phonics is embedded in all areas of our curriculum.

Our daily phonics lessons also include the teaching of ‘Tricky words’. These are words that cannot be read phonetically e.g. was, because.

The Year One phonics screening

The phonics screening check is a short, simple assessment to make sure that all pupils have learned phonic decoding to an appropriate standard by the age of 6. The check comprises a list of 40 words and non-words which the child will read one-to-one with a teacher.


What's in a book?  A journey, experiences, laughter, tears, knowledge, curiosity, predictions, ideas!  

At St.Barnabas we love to read; we believe passionately about the development of this skill. It's integral to our curriculum as a tool for research and the acquisition of knowledge, for enjoyment and to improve our experiences to help us empathise and it enables us to access learning across a range of subjects.

We have invested in our reading practices and developed strategies for supporting our learners to excel within this subject, we do this by:

  • Sharing high quality books.
  • Talking lots about how and why authors have chosen particular styles, devices and vocabulary to support the reader to understand the book. We call this strategy 'Writer and Book Talk' and it is used throughout units of English work.
  • Assessing the children's understanding in different ways: Benchmarking, phonic tests, comprehension tests. This information is used to plan lessons to meet the needs of the learners.
  • Our reading lessons are called 'Guided Reading', where teachers read with a small group of learners. During this time they ask the learners a range of skills based questions to elicit their understanding of what they have read.
  • Once our children are assessed, as soon at they start school, they begin their reading journey on the Reading Spine. The Reading Spine is not a scheme - it's a selection of real books from a range of different schemes, authors and book packs which are colour banded together to ensure your child has a wide range of books to choose from.