Leamington Hastings

Church of England Academy

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Phonics and Reading


The school uses the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised approach to teach phonics throughout Nursery, Reception and Year 1. This systematic, structured approach features on the DfE's list of validated phonics schemes and takes current research into cognitive science into account. All phonics teaching throughout school is well paced to ensure that children quickly learn to read by learning sounds and tricky words in a systematic and consistent way. This means that children are able to start reading words and sentences quickly – even as soon as learning their first four sounds! Children learn that sounds can be represented by graphemes (letters) and how to blend sounds together to read words.


It is very important that letter sounds are pronounced correctly by the children, so that they don't encounter problems when blending to read words. Click the video links below to find out about blending and sound pronunciation:

How children are taught to blend

Phase 2 sounds taught in Reception - Autumn 1

Phase 2 sounds taught in Reception - Autumn 2

Phase 3 sounds taught in Reception - Spring

How we teach tricky words 


The documents below also provide information regarding pronunciation, along with details of how to form letters when handwriting. An overview of the phonics taught to Reception and Year 1, demonstrating the phonics progression, can also be found below. 


Children’s phonics knowledge across the school is assessed half termly in order to inform teachers planning and to check all children are making progress, those children who need support to keep up with their peers will receive interventions that may involve them working in a small group or individually with a designated adult. 

At the end of Year 1 children take part in the national phonics screening check.  Children are asked to read forty words, some of which are alien words.  The national expected level is usually to read thirty two out of forty words correctly.  Children who did not reach the exepected level will receive ongoing phonics support as they move into Year 2 and will take the phonics screening again a year later.  More information about alien words can be found here.



Learning to read is a key life skill. By the end of Year 2, our children should be confident to select and tackle a wide range of age appropriate literature, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts. 


Reading lessons take place in all year groups at least three times per week. Reading lessons involve:

- decoding practise

- reading with prosody (reading with feeling and expression) 

- comprehension (taking part in book talk, predicting, making inferences and deductions, 



Your child will be taught to read whilst at school, but you can have a huge impact on their reading journey by continuing their practice at home. There are two types of reading books that your child will bring home:

1. A reading practice book - this will start to be sent home from Reception and will continue throughout Year 1. Our reading books are from the Big Cat Collins reading scheme, the books are fully decodable and alligned to our phonics progression, the book sent home will be at the correct phonic stage for your child. They should be able to read this book fluently and independently. If your child is reading it with little help, please don’t worry that it’s too easy, your child needs to develop fluency and confidence when reading. Listen to them read the book and remember to give them lots of praise – celebrate their success! If they can’t read a word after attempting to sound it out and blending, read it to them. After they have finished reading, talk about the book together.

Children will remain reading the Big Cat Collins reading books aligned to the phonics progression until they are secure with the phonics expectations at the end of Year 1, for some children this may mean that they continue reading them into Year 2.

Once children are secure with the end of Year 1 reading expectations, children will move onto reading books designed to further develop their comprehension skills. 

2. A sharing book - all children throughout school will bring home a sharing book, including Nursery.  Your child will not be able to read this on their own. In order to encourage your child to become a lifelong reader, it is important that they learn to read for pleasure. The sharing book is a book they have chosen for you to enjoy together. Please remember that you shouldn’t expect your child to read this alone. Read it to or with them. Discuss the pictures, enjoy the story, predict what might happen next, use different voices for the characters and explore the facts in a non-fiction book. The main thing is that you have fun!

In addition, your child's class teacher will assign books to your child using our online reading system, these books are Collins Big Cat Phonics books that are aligned to the phonics your child has learnt in the classroom. 


Reading for pleasure is promoted in a variety of ways:

- A daily story time in each classroom, with a book chosen by a staff member who considers it a high quality text to share with the children. There are times where the staff member will have chosen two books and the class vote which book to read first, demonstrating democracy in action.

- There is a recommended book per week shared with the community in the newsletter, with these recommendations made by both children and staff.

- All children have the opportunity to visit the school library on a weekly basis.

- We hold a reading celebration event per term - vocabulary day in the autumn term, world book day in the spring term and Pyjamarama in the summer term.

- We hold a Leamington Hastings reading raffle for children in Reception onwards - once children have read five times at home, children earn a raffle ticket. At the end of each half term a raffle ticket from each year group is drawn and children can select a book which they can keep at home. 

- We hold a sponsored reading and book swapping event once per year. 

- Each classroom has a dedicated reading area, with a range of books available to develop the children's interests. 

- A dedicated reading club lead by the Reading Leader. 



If you would like to view our full Phonics and Early Reading policy, this can be found below.

Our whole school reading and phonics progression maps can also be found below: