English: Phonics and reading


At Stannington First School, we value reading  for both pleasure and as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. We believe reading is key for academic success and so to ensure we have a holistic approach to the teaching of reading, we implement the following:

  • Pupils take part in daily phonics or class reading lessons, during which they are exposed to a range of different texts and can demonstrate their understanding and thinking related to these.
  • We are very lucky to have a wide range of reading books in our school. All pupils from Reception to Year 4 take a reading book home and this reading book is changed at least weekly. Our books are banded and in EYFS and KS1 the books in each band are closely matched with the phases in our phonics scheme - Letters and Sounds. Pupils work through this home/school reading scheme. The books match the children’s phonological awareness or current reading age. We expect family at home to read these books with their children regularly and make comments in their child’s reading record.
  • Each class has a selection of books in their classroom which are directly linked with their class topic. This offers opportunities for the children to apply their reading skills across the curriculum. The school is part of the School Library SLA which ensures that teachers and pupils have access to a range of quality texts.
  • Pupils are read to each day by their class teacher. This story sharing session is an important part of our school day.
  • The school has a dedicated library area that is well stocked with a range of texts that are available for all pupils.
  • The school also subscribes to an online library - Phonics Bug Independent and pupils have access to this in school and at home.  

By the time pupils leave Stannington First they are competent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a thirst for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books, including evaluating an author’s use of language and the impact this can have on the reader.

At Stannington First, we use a synthetic phonics programme called Letters and Sounds. This is a method of learning letter sounds and blending them together to read and write words. In Early Years and Key Stage One, children have daily phonics sessions in small groups where they participate in speaking, listening and spelling activities that are matched to their developing needs. The teachers draw upon observations and continuous assessment to ensure children are stretched and challenged and to identify children who may need additional support. Children work through the different phases, learning and developing their phonics sounds and knowledge. 


Letters and Sounds - full document (link)



We have an agreed long term plan for phonics which identifies the phases and sounds taught from Nursery through to Year 2, with termly milestones. Teachers used agreed phonics assessments to ensure all pupils are making progress and identify those who are not.

In addition, teachers plan:

  •      Guided Reading lessons, using a wide range of different texts
  •      From Year 2 – whole class reading sessions where every child has a copy of the same text
  •      Using high quality online resources to complement class teaching
  •      Use our newly updated library to encourage and enthuse reading in our learners.
Teachers assess pupils regularly against our Reading Performance Indicators; ‘My Progress Goals’  in Years 1-4 and using the Northumberland County Council School Readiness Passport and the Reading Early Learning Goal (in EYFS).

These regular assessments inform planning and allow teachers to identify any gaps in learning.

Our English Curriculum Maps have been devised using resources from the CLPE and we have used these to develop a text-based English Curriculum. 

Our Curriculum Map demonstrates how Stannington First School develops our pupils’ understanding of literary forms, wider knowledge of the world, empathy for the human experience and language competency by working with quality texts through our carefully crafted planning sequences.  The map shows how language, grammar, phonics and spelling is contextualised in meaningful ways and also how we plan for progression; enabling children to work at greater depth in both reading and writing. 

We also believe that children should be exposed to adults who read for pleasure but also have forged careers out of reading and writing to act as positive role models . We have had the pleasure of having children’s authors visit our school to help us celebrate a love of reading. In 2019, Helen Stephens came to school to do workshops on her latest  ‘How to Hide a Lion’. In March 2020, Holly Sterling came into school and shared with us her latest book ‘Karate kid’. 


The last 15 minutes of the school day is class story time and staff read aloud to children from a range of texts. Key texts have been identified for each year group to cover a range of authors and genres. Our writing curriculum is based on the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education's 'Power of Reading' and high quality texts are used as a stimulus for writing tasks.

We also plan themed events to promote a love of books and reading. In the past, these have included: author visits, #Reading Rocks, #Take a Shelfie and Extreme Reading. Our aim is that all of our pupils will meet an author at least once during their time at Stannington First School.



Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our pupils become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. Shared class reading ensures our pupils develop their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school.

Attainment in phonics is measured using teacher assessment and by the Phonics Screening Test at the end of Year 1.

Attainment in reading is measured using teacher assessment and the statutory assessments at the end of Key Stage One. These results are measured against the reading attainment of children nationally.

However, we firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments. We give all our pupils the opportunity to enter the magical worlds that books open up to them. Our pupils develop their own love of genres and authors and can review books objectively. They demonstrate a deep love of literature across a range of genres, cultures and styles.