Multi-Skills has been cancelled on Wednesday 6th July due to Sports Activities.

Reading & Phonics

Reading and Phonics at Probus School

Phonics is taught under the Letters and Sounds Framework set out by the DfE. From this framework we have devised a programme of daily sessions using the Little Wandle planning tool, relevant to each phase, using a wealth of resources and activities devised to suit the needs of the children. Each session follows a similar format: 

·         Revisit and review -  all GPCs/words learnt so far 

·         Learn – new phoneme/grapheme, words or rule 

·         Practise - explore new learning 

·         Apply - use new learning in writing or reading of a sentence 

Phase 1 - Children explore sounds and words and develop awareness of rhyme, rhythm and alliteration. They learn how to orally blend sounds and distinguish different sounds in words. This can be through conversation, nursery rhymes, stories and games. Phase 1 is mostly taught in pre-school but we have resources and activities in place for those children who need to begin here. 

Phase 2 - Children continue with exploring rhymes and alliteration and are introduced to at least 19 letters and corresponding sounds. This is done using the Jolly Phonics songs linked to flash cards and supported with a variety of activities set up for continuous provision.  They begin to read and spell simple CVC words as well as high frequency words. Children are introduced to the Oxford Reading Tree Early Phonics reading books, as well as daily story telling sessions. 

Phase 3 - Children learn one grapheme for a further 25 phonemes. These include consonant and vowel digraphs (e.g. ch, ng, ai, oa) and trigraphs (e.g. igh, air). They continue to build up their knowledge of high frequency words for reading and spelling. Throughout Phase 3,4 and 5 children will also be using ‘alien’ words (nonsense words), this is good practise for segmenting and blending sounds and will prepare Year 1 children for the phonics screening. 

Phase 4 - Children read and spell words containing consonant clusters. These are two or more consonants together e.g. cl  dr  sk  mp  nd. Words containing these are known as CCVC and CVCC words. e.g. black, strip, chest). Towards the end of Phase 4 they will also begin to work with compound words such as lunchbox, pondweed and handstand. 

Phase 5 - Children entering Phase 5 should already be able to read and spell words with adjacent consonants, such as trap, string and flask. They will also be able to read and spell some polysyllabic words. In Phase 5, children will learn alternative graphemes and phonemes. For example, they already know ai as in rain, but now they will be introduced to ay as in day and a-e as in make. Alternative pronunciations for graphemes will also be introduced, e.g. ea in tea, head and break. For this we use phoneme spotter stories. 

Phase 6 - Children can apply their phonic skills and knowledge to recognise and spell an increasing number of words. They will investigate and learn to add suffixes (eging, ed, erly, ness) to words and to spell words in the past, present and present continuous tense as well as the rules regarding regular and irregular verbs. They also look at superlative adjectives, comparative adjectives contracted words and plurals. 


At Probus School we are passionate about reading and children's access to quality books. We aim to nurture life-long readers, who take pleasure in searching out new books to read, exploring and discovering through literature. Our childrens reading experience is much more than the reading book which comes home from school. Reading is happening all the time in our school. It is taught in specific reading and English lessons, but our children are practising and using their reading constantly across all subjects too. Our childrens reading journey begins with learning to read and moves on into reading to learn. It is almost impossible to overestimate the importance of reading. Without the ability to read, our children cannot access other subjects properly. Reading is empowering and wonderful.

Whole school reading

A reading rich environment is core, in which books are valued and promoted throughout the school - via the environment and daily activities. Latest quality books (and a wide variety of genre) are regularly purchased and pupils can request a book that is of particular interest to them personally. Shared reading across the Key Stages and the buddy reading scheme encourages positive role models and a culture of cross age reciprocal learning. This is very popular with the pupils who love supporting each other in reading development and the pleasure of reading books is strong.

The school has silver level access to the county library service which termly replenishes our beautiful library. The pupils select the books to be changed and are responsible for the library. Each term pupils are encouraged to participate in the reading challenge organised by library and we hold a special assembly. Our school also participates in book events and special reading challenges.

Pupil voice is valued and both Key Stages have offered their opinions on reading at school and home. Reading at home is always actively encouraged and parents are supported with this by suggested prompts and questions to ask their child whilst they enjoy a book together. A copy of this is in their reading record.

 Technical development is through quality phonics teaching, word recognition techniques, the Nessy online programme, a colour banded book reading scheme and the NELI programme. Regular written comprehension, using a wide variety of sources appropriate for age is available when ready. One to one reading time for pupils who do not have regular reading at home or require extra time is provided. The staff at the school are dedicated to quality consistent provision and have all been trained in phonics provision. The research documents on literacy from the EEF underpin our staff development and the interventions emphasised for Literacy. The whole school is considering how the metacognition approach can translate to classroom practise for reading.

Reception / Early Years

 An interest and a love of books is paramount to foster from the beginning. The school is a book and text rich environment with excellent access for quality books in all learning spaces. Daily access is arranged for story and book sharing led by an adult. Observing reading and sharing books ensures pleasure of texts but also helps the child learn the direction of text and understanding of contextual clues and discussion of pictures and narrative to promote good understanding of exciting vocabulary Word recognition, matching and patterning letters are introduced, and the phonics programme begins in week one with daily games and rhymes. Activities are available throughout the day, reflecting the phonic focus and embedding the learning.

 Parents and Volunteers are invited to a virtual workshop to ensure they understand the sounds taught to support learning at home. Pupils take home readers with a phonics focus and these can sometimes be pictorial for discussion. When ready, the pupils begin the book band boxes and enjoy a library book. Daily reading is recorded in the home school reading book. The development of clear speech and comprehension of vocabulary and sentence structure is also seen as a vital element to support reading skills. Pupils follow the NELI programme to ensure language skills are strong. Pupils may also follow a programme organised by the Speech and Language service (SALT) to assist with vocabulary, pronunciation and comprehension.

Role play areas are provided and staff are trained in ways to question to enhance reading and speech skills. ‘A minute of listening’ resource is used to focus pupils listening skills. It has proved to be very enjoyable and a great vehicle to discuss sounds and listening skills.


Key Stage 1

 Shared group reading experiences occur daily and targeted guided reading with adults occurs several times every week. Pupils are exposed to high quality texts to expand their understanding of words and text structures. Access to high level discussion for the age is provided, accompanied by the pre-teaching of vocabulary for those who need extra support. A high quality ‘class reader’ is shared. This can relate to the topic but may be a request from a pupil. Pupils are also heard regularly one to one and if parents are not supporting reading at home the school aims to fill this need and encourage the parents to support.

 Access to the library is weekly and pupils are encouraged to share books at home and be read to for vocabulary development and joys of books. Daily reading is recorded in the home school reading book. The Nessy programme is available to support all pupils who require extra revisiting of phonics skills and it has been developed by the Bristol Dyslexia Association. It is a bright, comprehensive programme that assists with the basic technical development of reading in a very visual way.

 More formal comprehension skills are introduced as the pupils progress, but discussion of story and books is prioritised. The CPG books for Year 2 comprehension provide a framework for practising written responses to questions.

A daily phonics session is provided developed from the Wandle scheme. This is also linked to the spelling patterns explored. Pupils progress through the phases and are regularly screened and assessed. One to one support can be provided if needed.

Guided reading groups, supported by volunteers and teaching staff, give regular access to high quality discussion on texts and ensure those who need support with technical aspects can still access high level vocabulary.

Performance of narrative is regular to explore the structure, rhythm and sound of text. Pupils learn songs, play scripts and poetry to perform in class, assembly and community events. Pupils also have the opportunity to read aloud to peers and the community and are supported to achieve well and build self-esteem. Thus the curriculum emphasises the reading of a wide variety of texts shared with a wide variety of audiences.


Key Stage 2

 Listening skills are developed in music lessons and also with a ‘minute of listening.’ Group reading with the emphasis on high quality discussion of key texts is vital to developing vocabulary and comprehension skills and awareness of text structures. These texts will cover non-fiction, biography, poetry, plays and narrative genres. Some will be key texts linked to the topic, others will be stand alone and are suitable for age grouping.

Pupils have access to a reading buddy; this enables the more advanced reader to embed skills whilst supporting the less advanced reader. Daily personal reading opportunities are provided with time to change books. The class teacher provides discussion and reviewing of home reading weekly to promote whole class culture of reading. Daily reading is recorded in the home school reading book. Pupils are made aware of genre and authorial intent. Disadvantaged pupils or others needing support can access pre-teaching of vocabulary and other intervention programmes.

Comprehension skills are developed through discussion of texts, performance and film such as the BFI resource discs. Various comprehension resources are available for a variety of levels; looking at the development of inference and information retrieval. Challenge for high achieving pupils is provided using stretch CPG resources and access to quality texts offered by the class teacher.

Throughout the year pupils also read to audiences in assembly and community events. Poetry is often performed with dance and drama.

Assessment of reading

Teachers and teaching assistants use the following to make formative and summative assessments:

· The NELI assessments

· Phonic phases testing and participation

 · Book band levels - fluency in reading and comprehension

 · Observation of pupils reading during shared reading sessions, guided reading and performance situations

 · 2 Eskimos diagnostic reading assessments

· Key performance indicators for reading against age expectations using a sample cohort against which the peers are considered

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