Phonics and early reading

What is phonics?

Phonics is generally accepted as the most effective way to teach children to read and write. When the children are in Reception and Key Stage 1, they should be taught using a validated systematic synthetic phonics teaching programme:

  • to hear and recognise sounds in words and spell them correctly
  • the correspondence between sounds and the graphemes (spelling patterns) that represent them; and 
  • to recognise, identify, say and read all of the 44 sounds of the English language along with writing and spelling them. 


Children will also be taught other skills, such as whole-word recognition (‘tricky words’), book skills and a love and enjoyment of reading.


Phonics in Key Stage 2

When the children join Year 3 at Bidbury, we assess how secure they are in phonics.  

Any children that are not yet secure will continue to have additional support to develop their reading and writing skills. This might be a period of extra phonics teaching or extra reading practice 1:1 or in a small group with a teacher or learning support assistant. We use a reading intervention programme alongside decodable and accessible reading books.


Our reading intervention programme

At Bidbury, we use a reading intervention programme called Project X CODE. This programme has a two-text approach: Text 1 is 100% decodable to build confidence and develop vocabulary; Text 2 is 80% decodable to challenge children and deepen comprehension. Resources are age-appropriate, matched to the children's increasing knowledge of phonics, and finely levelled to accelerate progress. Different entry and exit points mean that children can start and finish the intervention at a point which is right for them.


Decodable reading scheme books

A reading scheme is a series of books that have been carefully written to help children learn to read. When your child is learning to read, they need to read books at the right level of challenge. If your child’s book is too hard, they will find it frustrating (and so will you) and might be put off reading. If their book is too easy, their reading won’t get any better.


All of our reading scheme books are fully decodable, which means they will only contain phonemes (sounds) and tricky words that your child has learnt. There is a careful progression of colour bands to ensure your child has a book at exactly the right level for them. 


Helping every child to unlock a love of reading

At Bidbury we have invested in hi lo (high interest, low ability) reading books, meaning the content is appropriate to the age of the reader but the text is edited to suit a lower reading age. These books have dyslexia-friendly fonts to make reading easier, accessible layouts and spacing; and short chapters to help build the children's confidence and stamina.


Why might my child be struggling?

Children learn to read in different ways and at different speeds. Some may struggle with it for a long time or may be reluctant to read. Children struggle with reading for all sorts of reasons. They may find it hard to sit still and concentrate; they may have got so anxious about reading that it stops them learning; they may have speech and language difficulties or a history of hearing loss. They may be in the early stages of learning English, because they speak a different language at home. There may be a history of reading or spelling difficulties in the family. If you are worried about your child's progress in reading, please do talk to their class teacher.