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Covingham Park Primary School

Caring for Pupils, Promoting Success

Phonics and Early Reading

Our Approach to Phonics


Phonics is a way of teaching children to read skillfully. We follow ‘Letters and Sounds’ as our progression document for the teaching of synthetic phonics. We incorporate the use of Jolly Phonics songs and actions to make it interactive and engaging for the children and use this as a way to remember each sound. Children in Lower School have 20 minutes of daily phonics teaching. Reception and Year 1 also have additional afternoon sessions.


Initially the children's listening skills are developed through the use of music, environmental sounds and rhymes.


In Foundation Stage, children are introduced to read the phoneme (sound) that each letter of the alphabet makes and then 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’. Children are taught to read words by breaking them down into their phonemes and then blending these together to read the whole word. They also learn to read by sight a range of high frequency and common exception words.


Similarly, children apply these when they segment words to spell them and recognise the grapheme required to write them down.  


In Year 1, children learn alternative ways that each phoneme can be spelled and the alternative pronunciations made by these e.g. 'a' as ai/ay/a/a_e. The children have a statutory Phonics Screening Check in June which 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.


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. 



Our Approach to Reading 


At Covingham Park, children are encouraged to read at home every day. In Foundation Stage, children begin by taking home wordless books, to allow them to spend time talking to a parent about the book, without being constrained by the necessity to read words. We have created activities to go alongside each book. Once children have a good understanding of how books work and have gained some phonics knowledge, they begin to read books containing simple words which can be blended or sounded out.


The reading books are colour banded and, as children become more confident and able readers, they will take home books from different colour bands. The books in the first few colour bands are primarily phonics based, allowing children to apply their phonics knowledge. 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.