St Joseph'sCatholic Primary School


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Subject Leader: Mrs Handford

Link Governor: Mrs Strinati




Phonics & Early Reading

At St Joseph’s, reading and phonics is a key priority for our children the moment they enter our school.  Reading opens the door to learning and to future experience. We recognise that fostering a love of reading is the key to all learning and therefore, as a school, we teach synthetic phonics as the initial, and most important, approach to the teaching of reading. We want all children at St Joseph's to learn to read with confidence, to develop a love of reading and apply their skills competently to their writing. We use a consistent and structured approach to support a smooth transition as children progress and gain skills.


Our pupils learn to read effectively using the FFT Success For All Phonics Programme (SFA)  which is a systematic programme for the teaching of phonics, reading, spelling and writing.


• To ensure a consistent approach, to the teaching of phonics, across the school.
• To ensure that children are given opportunities to use and apply their phonics learning.
• To ensure that all children use phonics, as their first approach, when reading.
• To ensure that all children entering KS2 are secure at decoding unfamiliar texts.

. To ensure that when necessary phonics teaching is adapted and continues into KS2. 





Core principles of our phonics programme


1. Systematic Progression

• Introducing phonics and its application to early reading in a carefully sequenced and progressive way: moving from developing phonological awareness through rhyme, to introducing Grapheme–Phoneme Correspondences (GPCs) in order.

Practising the skills of blending and segmenting as new GPCs are introduced and reinforcing them throughout the programme.

• Developing an increasing bank of accessible words, including Common Exception Words (CEWs).

• Building confident readers through the consistent, systematic and daily teaching of the Success for All Phonics programme with accompanying Shared Readers.


2. Regular Assessment

• Providing frequent and comprehensive formative and summative assessment opportunities to inform teaching and ensure that children’s progress is closely monitored.

• Providing an opportunity for the early identification of children who may be at risk of falling behind.

• Daily phonics lessons are structured into groups so that children learnby ability groups to ensure that children are taught at the most appropriate level for them.


3. Early Intervention

• Ensuring that when children are finding the skills of reading challenging, they also make progress to secure success for all children

• Providing dedicated time for review and consolidation of skills to ensure children needing extra support do not fall behind.

• Providing Tutoring with the Lightning Squad to support catch-up and additional teaching to those children whose reading skills are below age-related expectations. The tutoring programme has an integrated assessment tool so that skills gaps are automatically identified and addressed.

Learning is adapted when necessary to ensure that we meet the needs of all children with high expectations and we provide a clear plan for getting them back on track as soon as possible.


4. A Multisensory Approach

• Providing pacey and active lessons that balance short inputs of direct teaching with immediate whole-class response and engagement. 

Providing multisensory lessons that engage all children in a variety of activities designed to support learning in fun and memorable ways. Activities include: saying the Alphabet Chant with actions; responding to questions either chorally or with their Talk Partner; and/or actively reading with their partner; and writing in the air or on their partner’s back. Linking pictures and mnemonics to support the learning of each GPC and helping children to remember it. 


5. Co-operative Learning

• Underpinning daily lessons with Co-operative Learning techniques in which learning skills are developed by our teachers and Learning Support Assistants explicitly modelling behaviour for learning.

• Using positive feedback to help children to understand when they meet expectations and for motivation.

• Encouraging children to work together in supportive peer partnerships (and teams in Year 1).


6. Application of Skills

• By providing texts – Shared Readers – which are carefully aligned to progression in phonics skills, children are motivated to apply their new learning in a meaningful way. These texts are sent home for parents to continue to support the learning process at home. 

• Developing a separate, but linked, approach to the teaching of reading comprehension during the shared reading lessons.


Ensuring consistency and pace of progress 

  • Every teacher and Learning Support Assistant has been trained to teach using the FFT Success For All Programme maintaining the same expectations of progress. We all use the same language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load. This also ensures consistency as children move through the school. 

  • Weekly content grids map each element of new learning to each day, week and term for the duration of the programme.  

  • Lesson templates, Prompt cards and ‘How to’ videos ensure teachers all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson. These are revisited when necessary. 

  • Our English Lead regularly monitors, observes teaching and teaches children who need additonal support to ensure that any children who need interventions are quickly identidied.


To ensure fluency, children’s accuracy and reading speed is assessed to ensure that they are ready to exit the phonics programme and this is assessed using the FFT Reading Assessment Programme. 


Scope & Sequence of the programme.

Phase 1 (EYFS)

Focuses on developing phonological awareness by teaching children sound discrimination, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, oral blending and segmenting. Six weeks of additional planning is available for Phase 1.

Phase 2 (Reception Term 1)

Children learn short sound GPCs and use these to read CVC words. A limited number of Common Exception Words (CEWs) are introduced in the context of the Shared Readers, and children practise writing new and previously learnt GPCs in upper- and lower-case letters.

Phase 3 (Reception Terms 2–3)

Children learn long vowel digraphs and read CCVC and CVCC words. Children are introduced to two-syllable words. Spelling and sentence writing with known GPCs are introduced. Common alternative spellings / pronunciations are introduced.

Phase 4 (Reception Term 3)

Focuses on reviewing and consolidating all Reception-level content in preparation for Year 1. Decoding skills are applied to more challenging word structures.

Phase 5 (Year 1 Terms 1–3)

Teaches remaining long vowels, including split digraphs. Children learn to read nonsense words along with CCVCC, CCCVC and CCCVCC words. All Key Stage 1 CEWs are taught and reviewed, and children learn the spelling and grammar conventions from the Year 1 NC. Phase 6 (Year 1 Term 3) Focuses on reviewing and consolidating all Year 1-level content.