The Teaching of Phonics and Reading

Phonics teaches children the link between the written letter and the sound that the written letter/s makes. Children can use this knowledge to spell and read words.

We teach Phonics in school through a systematic teaching programme called ‘Letters and Sounds.’ Phonics is taught daily and the sounds are taught in a particular order.

There are 6 phases of phonics starting in nursery and working through year 2.

Nursery = Phase 1

Provides the foundations for phase 2, 3 and 4 in reception

Is very much based on speaking and listening

Reception = Phase 2, 3, 4 (with phase 1 running alongside)

This is the stage where children begin to learn the letters names, the sound the letters make and how to write the letters.

  • Children learn to segment (break up a word into sounds) and blend (blend the sounds back together) using the sounds they have learnt
  • Children begin to learn sounds that are represented by two letters – digraphs (sh, th, ee) and three letter tri-graphs (igh, ear)
  • Children continue to practise blending and segmenting words which also include the phase 3 sounds.

Year 1 = Phase 5

  • Children will be taught new graphemes and alternative pronunciations for these graphemes and graphemes they already know
  • They will begin to learn to choose the appropriate grapheme when spelling
  • The children will be automatically decoding a large number of words for reading by this point
  • By this phase children should be reading words fluently and no longer be blending and segmenting familiar words
  • The real focus throughout the phase is to not only learn the new graphemes for reading but also to learn to read words with alternative pronunciations
  • Children also will need to learn alternative spellings for each phoneme.

Year 2 = Phase 6

  • In phase 6 children will be reading longer and less familiar texts independently and fluently
  • It is crucial that at this point children are now reading to learn and reading for pleasure
  • In spelling children are introduced to the adding of suffixes and how to spell longer words
  • Throughout the phase children are encouraged to develop strategies for learning More information about the approach can be found at

Key Objectives for Reading:

Year 1

  1. Speedily read all basic phoneme/graphemes
  2. Read accurately by blending known GPCs
  3. Read common exception words
  4. Read common suffixes
  5. Read multi-syllable words containing known GPCs
  6. Read contractions and understand use of apostrophe
  7. Retell familiar stories and traditional tales
  8. Recognise and join in with predictable phrases
  9. Understand texts based on prior knowledge or provided information
  10. Correct inaccurate reading by check for sense
  11. Discuss the significance of title and events
  12. Make inferences on the basis of what is said and done
  13. Make predictions based on reading so far
  14. Explain clearly understanding of what is read to them

Year 2

  1. Read fluently using decoding skill
  2. Read accurately by blending, including alternative sounds for graphemes
  3. Read multi-syllable words containing known graphemes
  4. Read common suffixes
  5. Read exception words
  6. Read most words quickly and accurately without overt sounding and blending
  7. Discuss and express views on a wide range of poetry, stories and non-fiction
  8. Recognise simple recurring literary language in stories and poetry
  9. Discuss and clarify the meanings of words
  10. Discuss the sequence of events in books
  11. Make inferences on the basis of what is being said and done
  12. Ask and answer questions about a text
  13. Predict what might happen based on reading so far
  14. Explain and discuss understanding of a range of reading

Key Objectives for Reading in Y3/4:

Core Objectives:

  1. Read aloud and understand words based on knowledge of root words, prefixes and suffixes
  2. Identify themes and conventions in a range of books
  3. Use dictionaries to check the meaning of words
  4. Check that a text makes sense, including explaining the meaning of words in context
  5. Draw inferences about feelings, thoughts and motives
  6. Use evidence to justify inferences
  7. Discuss words and phrases which capture the reader’s interest
  8. Identify how language contributes to meaning
  9. Identify how structure and presentation contribute to meaning
  10. Retrieve and record information from non-fiction texts

Additional Content:

  1. Read further exception words, including those with unusual spelling/sound links
  2. Retell some fairy tales or traditional tales orally
  3. Perform plays and poetry aloud using intonation, tone, volume and action
  4. Recognise some different forms of poetry
  5. Identify and summarise the main ideas drawn from more than one paragraph

Key Objectives for Reading in Y5/6:

Core Objectives:

  1. Use knowledge of morphology and etymology to read aloud and understand new words
  2. Make comparisons within and across books
  3. Identify and discuss themes and conventions across a wide range of writing
  4. Summarise ideas drawn from more than one paragraphs, identifying key details
  5. Predict future events from details stated and implied
  6. Identify how language, structure and presentation contribute to meaning
  7. Discuss how authors use language, including figurative language, to affect the reader
  8. Provide reasoned justifications for views

Additional Content:

Read a range of modern fiction, fiction from literary heritage and books from other cultures and traditions

  1. Discuss understanding of texts, including exploring meaning of words in context
  2. Ask questions to improve understanding of texts
  3. Make book recommendations, giving reasons for choices
  4. Participate in discussions about books, building on and challenging ideas
  5. Explain and discuss understanding of reading
  6. Participate in formal presentations and debates about reading



Oxford Reading Tree is primarily used in Reception and throughout Key Stage One and lower Key Stage 2 to deliver the key aims of the new National Curriculum 2014.

The scheme provides:

  • A structured and engaging synthetic phonics programme matched to Letters and Sounds which enables the high-quality teaching of phonics
  • Access to motivating and humorous decodable texts, to engage children in reading and to develop their fluency
  • Fully decodable retellings of best-loved traditional stories from around the world which gives children a new dimension to phonics reading
  • A rich range of beautifully written decodable stories by a best-selling authors
  • Stories which help move children on from phonics to become fluent, confident readers, and offer a wealth of opportunities for deeper comprehension and discussion across a wide spectrum of different text genres
  • Best-loved characters, exciting and humorous storylines and interesting topics which hook children into
  • Careful levelling and huge variety which ensures there is something to motivate and engage every child
  • Beautifully illustrated, fully decodable versions of enchanting and moral tales from around the world, perfect for introducing children to cultural traditions and typical story themes like good and evil, greed and power
  • Language-rich stories with exciting plots provide a springboard for writing, talk and drama
  • Teaching notes and inside cover notes for every title support teachers and parents, providing tips for checking children’s comprehension and ideas for discussion

Oxford Reading Tree is supplemented by a variety of other reading schemes which include ; Jolly Phonics; Literacy Links; Osbourne First Reading; Story Worlds; Sunshine Spirals and Ginn.

In KS2, pupils have access to additional schemes such as: Wellington Square; Oxford Literacy Webb; Oxford project X; Oxford Wolf Hill; Longman Pelican; Collins Pathways and Scholastic Literacy time.

In addition to reading schemes, children have access to a wide range of popular fiction and non- fiction ( ability banded within each classroom) and through access to the school library.

Each class has sets of texts to enable delivery of the National Curriculum aims for reading through text based units of work, outlined below.

* Some titles are suggestions only