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Covingham Park Primary School

Caring for Pupils, Promoting Success

Phonics and Early Reading


Reading curriculum intent


At Covingham Park, reading is promoted as an intrinsic part of teaching and learning. It forms a pivotal part of our curriculum. We recognise that the skill of reading provides children with access to the world around them and a wealth of knowledge which will support their learning and development in all other areas. However, we also believe that reading brings joy and experiences that cannot be achieved in any other way; discovering new worlds, reflecting on the past and exploring emotions from the viewpoints of others who are similar and very different.


Reading curriculum implementation


Early Reading 


Children have opportunities to apply their developing phonic knowledge and skills in the context of shared reading and writing across all subjects.  For one to one reading, both in class and at home, children have fully decodable books that are closely matched to their developing phonic level. We mainly draw upon Collins Big Cat texts which are supplemented with phonically decodable books from different schemes. These reading books are closely matched to our progression document and are grouped accordingly.


In Key Stage 1, children continue to read books closely matched to their phonics knowledge. Teacher-led guided reading sessions take place weekly in small groups. Children read a carefully selected engaging text over two sessions. The focus of the first session is on reading fluency; accuracy, automaticity (rapid recall of whole known words) and prosody (reading with expression), as well as vocabulary choices and word meaning. The second session returns to the text and challenges the children to explore the content of the book; for example; looking at and retrieving key information and developing comprehension and understanding around what they are reading. Once children become fluent readers, a range of books is provided to allow children to engage in more lengthy discussions about the content of the book to deepen their understanding and broaden their vocabulary.


Developing a love of reading


Children in Foundation Stage start with Lilac wordless books. We have created activities to go with each of these including cooking, crafts and story-telling to encourage an engagement with and a love for books straightaway. We also give children the best start we can by teaching them to read as soon as possible so that we can provide them with the skills they need for the future.


At Key Stage one and two, children access a range of high-quality engaging texts across a range of genres. These are linked across subjects and areas of learning with teachers sharing them and modelling a range of reading strategies.


Reading at home


Research shows that children who read daily develop reading fluency at a more rapid rate and become more confident, eloquent writers. We aspire to this for all our children and believe that the most important thing that parents can do at home to help their children achieve at school is to share books with them.


We encourage children to read daily at home with their adults and try to ensure that those who do not get a daily read at home have one in school. Within Lower School, children with 5 reads are celebrated individually with prizes. In Upper School, children take part in a reading planets competition to visit each planet when a set number of reads is achieved.


We provide reading workshops for early reading skills every year to support parents in how they can help the development of reading at home.  We have also made activities and question prompts for every reading book in Foundation Stage to support parents reading with their child.



Synthetic phonics is a way of teaching children to read skilfully.  At Covingham Park we follow a systematic approach using our carefully planned pace and progression document. We ensure that all phonics sessions are interactive and engaging. We also ensure that all resources, vocabulary and mantras used are consistent across all phonics groups and year groups.  Children in Lower School have 20 minutes of daily phonics teaching. Reception and Year 1 also have additional afternoon sessions.


Phonological awareness and phonic knowledge is developed as soon as children start school. The initial focus is on pupils’ ability to discriminate between sounds in the environment and through rhyme, rhythm and alliteration.


The teaching of phonics begins in Foundation Stage. Each phoneme (sound) and corresponding grapheme (letter) is introduced clearly; a focus is placed on recognising these so they can then start to read words by blending (synthesising) the sounds together and segmenting to spell. In addition, they learn to read by sight a range of high frequency and common exception word. This focus provides children with the skills they need to begin to read and write words, captions and whole sentences as soon as possible. They then progress on to learning combinations of letters as digraphs (two letters to make one sound) e.g. ‘ck’ ‘oo’, ‘sh’ and trigraphs (three letters to make one sound) e.g. 'igh' and ‘air’. 


Discrete daily phonics teaching in differentiated groups continues into KS1 as the children become more confident at applying their phonics to reading and writing. They continue to learn new graphemes for phonemes they already know  e.g. 'a' as ai/ay/a/a_e, as well as alternative pronunciations for the graphemes they already know e.g. cow/ snow.  They are also taught the Common Exception Words for Year 1 and 2 set out in the National Curriculum. From Year 2 onwards, children consolidate their knowledge and learn different spelling rules and when to apply them. Their grammar work also focusses on plurals and verb tenses. 


Great importance is given to staff, children and parents to pronounce these phonemes correctly in order for children to accurately blend and segment. Watch the video below for correct pronunciation of each phoneme...

How to pronounce pure sounds.mp4

Still image for this video

Phonics screening check


By the end of Year 1, the children are ready to take their Phonics Screening Check. This consists of 20 real and 20 pseudo (nonsense) words. Children use their decoding skills to read these. Children who do not meet the required standard in Year 1 will re-take this again in Year 2. Please see below for more information...