How we teach Reading 

(including Phonics)

Reading at Thorogate school is seen as the gateway to the curriculum.  Consequently, reading is prioritised to ensure that all pupils do well.    It is essential that parents support school in ensuring that all pupils can read age appropriately, because we know that parents have so much impact on pupil learning!    See "Why reading is so important?" for further information.  If you are unsure if your child is doing well or if you would like further support in how you can help your child, please contact your child's class teacher either via Dojo or the school office.

What does it mean that reading is prioritised?

The teaching of phonics will start from the moment your child joins Thorogate School.  Within the first few days pupils will start receiving daily phonics lessons and they will rapidly progress; learning new phonemes, learning how to blend for their reading and encode for their writing.    Pupils will have reading books that are matched to the phonics that they are learning 

Where pupils do not make the progress that we expect, additional phonics lessons will be provided.  This means your child may have more than one phonics lesson in a day .  

Read Write Inc

At Thorogate School we use the Read Write Inc (RWI) programme to support the teaching of Reading (including phonics) and writing, giving children a flying start with their literacy learning. RWI is a method of learning centred round letter sounds and phonics, and we use it to aid children in their reading and writing.

In phonic sessions children are taught to recognise letters, understand the sound they make and then blend them together to create words. Some words, which cannot be phonetically sounded out, are taught at each phase. These are ‘tricky words’ and are taught through sight recognition.

Children continue to apply their new knowledge of phonics, through regular interactive reading of texts with the teacher and their reading partner during the school day.

Oracy remains central to the teaching and understanding of reading, as children continue to extend their comprehension skills. During this crucial stage, great emphasis is placed on teaching children to use their growing knowledge of phonics and sight words to encourage them to read and write with increasing accuracy whilst developing their understanding of the writing process.

In Year 1 children have a statutory check, known as the Year 1 Phonics Check. The check assesses phonics knowledge learnt in Reception and in Year 1. It was developed to help identify the children who need extra help with decoding and blending before they begin Year 2.

Knowing more about Phonics as a parent

Parents are fantastic at supporting  their children at home and this really does make a difference in a pupil's progress.  But parents also naturally worry about getting it right if they are unsure of how the school is teaching phonics.   

The video on the right will show you how to make the sounds being taught in school.

The video on the right will show you how to say the digraphs .

The video on the right will show you how to blend the sounds.

The video on the right will show you how to read the set 3 sounds.

Phonics Vocabulary

Phoneme – The smallest unit of sound. There are approximately 44 phonemes in English (it depends on different accents). Phonemes can be put together to make words.

Grapheme – A way of writing down a phoneme. Graphemes can be made up from 1 letter e.g. p, 2 letters e.g. sh, 3 letters e.g. tch or 4 letters e.g ough.

GPC – This is short for Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence. Knowing a GPC means being able to match a phoneme to a grapheme and vice versa.

Digraph – A grapheme containing two letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).

Trigraph – A grapheme containing three letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).

Blending – This involves looking at a written word, looking at each grapheme and using knowledge of GPCs to work out which phoneme each grapheme represents and then merging these phonemes together to make a word.

Segmenting – This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes (sound talk/sounding out) that make it, using knowledge of GPCs to work out which graphemes represent those phonemes and then writing those graphemes down in the right order.

Alien words – These are ‘made up’ words which test children’s knowledge of known phonemes.

Read Write Inc. lessons

Children enjoy their RWI lessons immensely, rapidly learning a very complex alphabetic code which they apply to both reading and writing.  RWI teaching begins formally in Reception, with the aim that most children complete the programme by the Autumn term of Year 2.  Pupils from Reception  are organised into groups that represent the phonic phase they they are currently mastering, with all groups being taught Phonics at the same time daily. Y1 and Y2 are taught whole class phonics and 'keep up' sessions are taught for those pupils who need it later in the day.  

Partner practice is embedded in every stage of the teaching cycle, ensuring children are given lots of opportunities to formulate and discuss their ideas, develop their comprehension and make links to their own experiences.  Fostering a love of reading is one of our core purposes and we use a range of high quality storybooks to make explicit links to the RWI text children are reading in class.

From the very beginning of the programme, children’s writing skills are developed through phonetic knowledge.  In Reception, children begin by practising forming written sounds (graphemes) and short, phonetically regular (green) words.  Children soon move onto writing short, coherent sentences and later, descriptive, imaginative compositional pieces of writing.  Lots of concrete experiences are provided during the teaching cycle to further support children’s writing, and the use of Read Write Inc. teaching strategies throughout the day reinforces children’s confidence in and enjoyment of literacy across the curriculum. 

Read Write Inc reading books

All reading books are matched to each child's phonic ability. These books are used for reading in school and at home. Every child who is currently on the phonics program will be assessed regularly to ensure they are reading the correct books.

Which Phonics Phase should my child be mastering?

The Phonics and Reading Plan for Reception and KS1 will give you a clear indication of where your child should be in their phonics learning.  Please do not worry if your child does not match this plan, speak to your child's class teacher.

School Reading Lists for each year group

If you would like further guidance on selecting books for your child, a useful starting point is the The School Reading List.  This site recommends books for each year group and also for topics covered in school.

Pie Corbett's reading spine is also very good for choosing excellent texts for each year group. Click on the link below to see.

Reading for pleasure

At Thorogate we are passionate about reading and want our pupils to experience and enjoy a wide range of quality texts. Each year group has a selection of core texts which are used for teaching plus we use other quality texts to read through different ways. We share these books by whole class teaching (class readers), storytime, recommended reads, mystery readers and reading assemblies. 

We are currently refining our reading spine and will publish this once completed.

Reading comprehension

In Y2 - Y6 we teach reading comprehension skills to our pupils by reading and listening to texts. This equips pupils to answer questions in a written way and supports their understanding of texts in more depth.

Materials such as Cracking Comprehension, Headstart, First News and Badger Comprehension are used.