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Holy Family

Catholic Primary School

Living, Loving, Learning Together

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Phonics and Reading

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Year 6 (2).MOV

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Book reviews

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How we approach reading at Holy Family

From the moment of induction when every new children is given a present of a book, they are immersed in stories and books.  Every classroom has its own book corner, and a central library is maintained too.  All classes have their own reading area.  The books in the classrooms form the 'Reading Journey' inspired by Just Imagine (see more information below).  We aim for the children to read from a wide range of genre/themes.  Reading books that they might not even have considered previously.  We hope that reading through such a range will inspire them, and develop their understanding, vocabulary, imagination and general love of books.


Reading together as a class, via class book sets, reading in small groups and reading individually are all weekly occurrences.  Staff model reading and give advice on good books to read. They encourage parents to read with their children regularly, and also discuss the book with older children. We participate in book weeks and library visits every year.  A love of reading is fostered continuously.


The Reading Journey

We work with Just Imagine using their 'Reading Journey' book resource. This is

a curated collection of high quality books to support reading for pleasure. And an exciting app with an inbuilt reading journal and challenges to engage readers.  We have developed our own KS1 version filled with books that we believe children should be reading and enjoying.


Reading Journey Aims


  • engage readers with exciting, high quality and appealing book choices.
  • develop adventurous reading choices.
  • maintain reading areas and school libraries.
  • keep book corners stocked with up-to-date books
  • provide support for a reading for pleasure pedagogy.


Curated Book Selections

  • The journey focuses on 20 different locations (eg: Magical Mansion, International Port, Funny Forest, Lake of Long Ago)
  • Each location is based on an idea or theme (not strictly genre as this approach is designed to encourage some adventurous choices).
  • Each location has at least 10 recommended books suitable for the age range.
  • Every location has at least one challenging choice and at least one accessible choice. The selections have been put together so that every child can participate.
  • Inclusivity is a selection criterion and efforts have been made to reflect realities (with acknowledgement to CLPE) in the selection.
  • Books selected by  a panel of reading experts and class teachers, convened by Just Imagine Director, Nikki Gamble, author of Exploring Children’s Literature and co-author of Guiding Readers: layers of meaning.



The Reading Journey is organised by phase: Lower Key Stage 2 and Upper Key Stage 2. Each phase has a recommended 200 great reads.  Over the years we have also added our own titles to the range of genre as great new books are published.  The children are also involved in suggesting new titles to be included.


Accelerated Reader

Holy Family Catholic Primary School uses AR (Accelerated Reader) . Pupils take a STAR reading test at the beginning of autumn term, and then at the end of each term so that we can track progress.  They are given an AR level of books to read and quiz independently.  This level changes as their reading progresses so that they can take on the challenge of books with a higher reading age.  Books within the library and the classroom mostly have AR quizzes attached to the.  Where they don't, for instance a brand new title, the children complete a short book review.  Each class celebrates reading success and children aim for 90% success rate on their quizzes.


Accelerated Reader is a computer based system that tracks pupils’ reading comprehension and progress, initially through a Star Reading Test and then through regular book quizzes completed in school.


Accelerated Reader combines the elements of personalised and assessment reading to promote reading for pleasure and to motivate pupils to use reading for learning.  Studies have shown that the AR Reading Scheme motivates pupils of all ages and abilities to read more and consequently raise literacy standards.

Pupils are achieving their individual targets and completing their quizzes with impressive levels, demonstrating their understanding of the texts.


Once a pupil has read a book they will complete an online reading quiz at school to assess their understanding of the book.  Each pupil’s reading progress can then be continually accessed via the AR Scheme.  Teachers and Classroom Assistants continue to listen to children read regularly.


As always parents remain encouraged to hear their child/children read at home and to share the content of the book by discussing what has been read.



At Holy Family, early reading is taught using synthetic phonics as the main approach to reading. Pupils are systematically taught the phonemes (sounds), how to blend the sounds all through the word for reading, and how to segment the sounds in order to write words. Children are taught to use their phonic skills and knowledge as their first approach to reading, but are also taught how to read high frequency words which do not completely follow the phonic rules.


All of our early reading books are colour banded. Each child is given a colour band to choose their home reading book from which will help to ensure that the book they select is at about the right reading level for them. Every colour band includes books from a range of reading schemes so that they will experience a range of stories, text types and illustrations. Books within the early book bands are all matched to phonological awareness, and can be decoded using phonics skills and knowledge. A range of published schemes are used, these include Rigby Star Phonics, Big Cat Phonics, Floppy Phonics, Songbirds and Oxford Reading Tree.


Here is a video explaining how each phoneme (sound) is articulated:

The school follows the government published programme 'Letters and Sounds' to teach phonics.


Phonics is taught from Foundation and is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning.


Children have time to practise and rapidly expand their ability to read and spell words. They are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky words’, which are words with spellings that are unusual.


Phase One (Foundation Stage)

The aim of this Phase is to foster children’s speaking and listening skills as preparation for learning to read with phonics. Parents can play a vital role in helping their children develop these skills, by encouraging their children to listen carefully and talk extensively about what they hear, see and do.


Phases Two to Four (Foundation)

Phase Two is when systematic, high quality phonic work begins. During Phases Two to Four, children learn:


  • How to represent each of the forty-two sounds by a letter or sequence of letters
  • How to blend sounds together for reading and how to segment (split) words for spelling
  • The letter names
  • How to read and spell some high frequency ‘tricky’ words containing sounds not yet learned (for example ‘they’, ‘my’, ‘her’ and ‘you’)


The Letters and Sounds Programme we use suggests an order for teaching the letters. We recognise, however, that children’s personal experience of letters varies enormously. Most importantly, we ensure that phonics is taught and practised at a pace that is suitable for individual and groups of children.


Phase Five (Year One)

Children learn new ways of representing the sounds and practise blending for reading and segmenting for spelling.


Phase Six (Year Two)

During this phase, children become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers.


Statutory phonics screening check

At the end of year one, your child will undergo a statutory phonics screening check. This is a statutory assessment.  The test comprises of a mixture of real and nonsense words which children have to decode/read. The phonics screening check is designed to confirm whether or not individual children have learned phonics decoding to the appropriate standard.  


Year 1 children who do not pass the phonics test, or who are not submitted, are identified and targeted in the summer term, before receiving additional support in Year 2. This includes the opportunity to revisit key sounds through targeted sessions across the key stage. In KS2 children identified as having a difficulty with phonics and reading continue to participate in regular additional phonics and reading sessions.



Phonics Policy