Our approach to reading & phonics

English is taught daily in every class and is differentiated to match all abilities. We aim to teach the children in our school to have a love of literature and language and the confidence to continue reading and writing throughout their lives.

We want our children to be able to:

  • speak clearly and confidently in any situation.
  • listen actively and respond appropriately, developing knowledge and opinion.
  • read fluently for both pleasure and information.
  • write clearly and with confidence in any given genre.
  • use spelling rules, phonics and grammar accurately.
  • be able to proof read their own work and make amendments and improvements.

Our approach to reading schemes

At St James’ CE Academy, children are encouraged to read at home every day.

In the Foundation Stage, children begin by taking home discussion books, which are used to form the basis of a conversation between the child and an adult about the book.

This gives children the opportunity to learn the skills of holding books, reading left to right and other vital skills, such as using picture clues.

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 using phonics.

Our 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 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.

From Year 2 onwards, children read books which use both phonics and words which are less common, to increase their reading vocabulary. Children will read at the level they are reading at home and read a more challenging text in Guided Reading sessions.

The main reading schemes used at St James’ CE Academy are Oxford Reading Tree, Collins Big Cats and Rigby. The phonics books are Floppy’s Phonics and Rigby.

What is phonics?

Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way, starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex, it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for 3 to 7 year old children.

Phonics is recommended as the main strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read. It helps children develop vital reading skills which they will need throughout their lives.

At St James’ CE Academy, we follow the Letters and Sounds programme.

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

In Foundation Stage, children are introduced to phonemes (sounds) linked to the letters of the alphabet, as well as one way of spelling each of the other 16  phonemes used in the English language, such as ‘igh’ and ‘ch’.

Children are taught to blend or sound out phonics to read a variety of words and segment or break down the sounds into simple words for spelling. In Foundation Stage, children also learn actions to help them remember the phonemes.

In Year 1, children learn more about the variety of ways in which each phoneme can be spelt and they also learn about the different pronunciations made by different letters or groups of letters, such as ‘a’ in ‘ant’ and ‘was’.

At the end of Year 1, children will be tested on their phonics knowledge using a national test featuring 20 real words and 20 nonsense words.

From Year 2 onwards, children consolidate their phonics knowledge, learning when to apply different spelling rules as well as how to spell plurals and different verb tenses.

Children are taught to blend sounds together by merging the individual sounds together until they can hear what the word is. This is how children learn to read.

Segmenting is the opposite of blending! Children are able to say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up. This is how children learn to spell.

I particularly enjoy RE as I like learning more about God and Jesus, there is more and more to learn every day.

Matilda, Year 6

My favourite subject is maths because it is fun as well as challenging!

Lily-Grace, Year 6

I love the exciting trips that we go on, they make me think about the future and my future career.

Olivia, Year 6

I learn something new every day, then I like to go home and do more research, particularly about out topic.

Cailen, Year 5

The books we read in school have inspired me to read more at home; I really enjoy reading every day.

Jack, Year 5

St James is like one big family, we look after each other and I feel safe here.

Millie, Year 5