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Owston Park Primary Academy


“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go” Dr. Suess



It is crucial children have a good start to their reading journey. At Owston we work together to work on areas of development and strive to improve. 


What is Phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. They are taught how to:

  • Recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
  • Identify the sounds that different combinations of letters (Special friends) make – such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’; and
  • Blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.

Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ (Fred Talk)new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.


Why 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 children aged five to seven.

Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment. Children will also become confident phonetic spellers. This will then lead into teaching the children different spelling rules to help develop more accurate spelling.


Phonics Screening Test

At the end of Year 1 children are assessed using the National Phonics Screening Test and this is repeated for those who did not achieve the appropriate level at the end of Year 2. This assessment gathers information on the children’s ability to blend and segment decodable words to read.

The children sit with the English Lead on a one to one basis in a relaxed environment and read 40 decodable words. If a child reads a word incorrectly, the teacher will just move onto the next word. Some words are real words and some are ‘alien’ words. Below is a sample of 2 test pages. The test is very child friendly and is a great assessment tool for teachers.




In Nursery -The children explore phase 1 of Letters and Sounds. This builds on children’s ability to listen to sounds. We also expose children to letters that are familiar to them i.e. their name. We identify children who are ready to progress onto oral segmenting and blending of words. In Spring term they continue to explore sounds but some move onto Read, Write Inc. for Nursery children where they explore making words with the letters they have learnt. All sessions are short, focused and of course fun! Children are split into groups and parents are informed on their development.


In Reception- Children have a daily phonics session with their class teacher or TA using the Read, Write Inc. programme. Children are grouped according to their reading stage. Again these sessions are fast paced, fun and focused. Parents are invited in to watch phonics being taught and get involved with some games.


In Year 1 –Children continue with the Read, Write Inc. programme. They are assessed regularly and regrouped according to their reading stage. We understand that children move at a different pace so we have carefully planned intervention groups with our excellent TAs. Phonics is taught throughout the curriculum. A meeting is held to explain the Phonics Screening test to parents in Spring term. The phonics screening check is in June of year 1.


In Year 2 – The children may or may not have passed. This information is carried to year 2 where we ensure the children are supported. We identify gaps and provide extra group work to support these children daily. Some children pass but may still need confidence building or help to apply their knowledge to their writing. Children who still require Read, Write Inc. will stay on the programme. The children who did not pass the check will get the chance to take it again in June.


After Year 2- Some children may still need support with their reading, writing and confidence in this area. Teachers communicate the children’s needs and parents are informed on progress. Children are supported differently in class depending on their needs.


At Owston Park we believe parental involvement makes a huge impact on the children’s love for reading. You begin the reading journey by communicating with your children, singing, sharing books and exploring sounds. Reading begins with listening.


Sharing a book with a child is fun - it's a time for closeness, laughing and talking together. It can also give children a flying start in life and help them become lifelong readers. 


Tips for reading with children of any age

  • Set aside some time
    Find somewhere quiet without any distractions - turn off the TV/radio/computer.
  • Ask your child to choose a book
    Sharing books they have chosen shows you care what they think and that their opinion matters. This means they are more likely to engage with the book.
  • Sit close together
    Encourage your child to hold the book themselves and/or turn the pages.
  • Point to the pictures
    If there are illustrations, relate them to something your child knows. Ask them to describe the characters or situation or what will happen next. Encourage them to tell you the story by looking at the pictures.
  • Encourage your child to talk about the book
    Talking about the characters and their dilemmas helps children understand relationships and is an excellent way for you to get to know each other or discuss difficult issues. Give your child plenty of time to respond. Ask them what will happen next, how a character might be feeling or how the book makes them feel.
  • And lastly, above all - make it fun!
    It doesn't matter how you read with a child, as long as you both enjoy the time together. Don't be afraid to use funny voices - children love this!