Reading and Phonics

Reading at Netherbrook


There are a range of books for the children to read and enjoy – both in classrooms, and the library within school.

Book banding was introduced for Reading in 2017. Books in school are grouped into colour bands, and children select from a range of fiction and non-fiction books within the book banding.

At Netherbrook, we use a range of books including, Oxford Reading Tree, and Project X as part of our reading scheme. The children’s enjoyment and enthusiasm for reading has improved as a result. As children move up through the school and the colour bands, we support reading with a range of age appropriate schemes and supplementary materials, as well as books by key authors.

Within each of our 'topics' for each year group, the children access focus books of both fiction and non-fiction genres. The Schools Library Service also offers a broad selection of books for classes to use in school.

Guided Reading

Children work in small groups and read with an adult.

Guided Reading is taught through modelled, shared and independent reading. The focus of Guided Reading is to improve the ability to decode text, but also to show a clear understanding of what is happening in the book, through deep questioning and thoughtful prompting. This is in order to support children in developing their comprehension, analysis and prediction skills.

As this is at a teaching or 'instructional' level, it is often at the book band above the child’s home reader. After being taught the skills of reading during these sessions, your child will then bring home their individual books to celebrate their success, gaining confidence and fluency by reading at home.

Reading at Home

Children love sharing books at home. When you listen to your child read at home, it is important to listen to them read, initially helping them to decode the words (sounding the words out, using the pictures to help them, or the context of the sentence). It is also important to ask children questions about what they have read, to deepen understanding.

Five Steps to Success

  • Create a routine. It is hard to find the perfect moment to sit down and enjoy reading together. If you can, get into a routine of reading at the same time each day. Reading together at bedtime is a popular choice, but you may find early morning or after school sessions are more successful if your child is too tired in the evening.
  • Make time to read little and often. Reading together doesn’t have to take a long time; just ten minutes a day makes a positive impact.
  • Reading environment. Learning to read can be hard and it feels even harder if there are distractions at home. Try to find a quiet space – no TV, no siblings or pets making noise.
  • Get comfortable. Get settled and think about whether you are both sitting in a good position to see the text and that you can support as necessary during the reading session. Your main role is to check accuracy of reading/decoding.
  • Praise after reading. It’s important to offer encouragement whilst your child is reading but try and praise your child for at least one achievement after reading. This ends on a positive note and helps your child look forward to the next session.

Using Your Child’s Reading Record

  • Positive praise: rewarding comments can be directed to your child and help raise their self-esteem and morale. Eg. excellent concentration Ben.
  • Tracking progress: make a note of new vocabulary that your child finds and any key achievements. Eg. Helen was interested in new words ‘bustle’ and ‘hustle’ – we checked the meanings in the dictionary or Emily remembered to pause at full stops.
  • Communicating with the teacher: a brief note in the reading record is an effective way to communicate with your child’s class teacher. Eg. Rachel only read a few pages today as she was feeling unwell.
  • Noting difficult words: if your child finds a word difficult, make a list and practise reading these words with your child every time you write in the reading record.
  • Tracking a variety of skills: it can be hard to avoid repetition and to think of different things to write. Try to comment on fluency, accuracy, comprehension, stamina, expression, engagement, vocabulary, grammar and punctuation.


Phonics is an effective way to ‘unlock’ words and help children make progress with reading and spelling. The aim with phonics is that children can recognise and process the letters and sounds through a word so fluently that word recognition becomes automatic.

There is a clear, systematic approach to the teaching of phonics at Netherbrook Primary School. It is taught every day in Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 and these phonic lessons last 25 minutes. The school follows the Letters and Sounds guideline published by the DFE and uses a range of resources including Jolly Phonics. We adopt a teaching sequence of: Review, teach, practice and apply. Children are grouped by ability for this lesson.

They begin by listening to and distinguishing between a range of sounds and soon progress to learning the sounds that each letter makes. After this, the children begin to build up CVC (consonant/vowel/consonant) and CCVC words. Next, they start to learn what happens when two letters are put together eg. ch, th. They also learn the alternative spellings and pronunciations of a wide range of sounds.

To find out more about how we teach phonics please come along to our induction and parent workshops.

There are six overlapping phases. Below is a summary based on the Letters and Sounds guidance for Practitioners and Teachers. For more detailed information, visit the Letters and Sounds website.

  • Phase 1: Phonic Knowledge and Skills. (Nursery/Reception) Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.
  • Phase 2 (Reception) up to six weeks Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.
  • Phase 3 (Reception) up to 12 weeks The remaining seven letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the 'simple code', ie. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.
  • Phase 4 (Reception) four to six weeks No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, eg. swim, clap, jump.
  • Phase 5 (Throughout Year 1) Now we move on to the 'complex code'. Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.
  • Phase 6 (Throughout Year 2 and beyond) Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.

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