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Phonics and Early reading

                            What is phonics?     



                                 Why do we teach phonics?                   




Reading is a key life skill and, as such, is central to life at Oakley Infant School. It provides the children with the skills needed to access the curriculum, from engaging with informative texts to answering questions in all areas of learning. It is fundamental in allowing them to engage fully with every day life e.g. the reading of signs or instructions  and is important in developing confidence in social situations e.g. the reading of a menu. 


We aim to ensure that all children:

- are able to read with confidence and fluency.

- understand the texts that they encounter and are able to discuss and question them.

- experience pleasure from reading.

- understand the importance of reading in everyday life.

- have the skills to explore books independently and make choices about their reading.

- feel inspired to respond imaginatively to their reading e.g. by acting it out or writing a similar story.

- engage families with reading outside of school. 



How is reading taught at Oakley Infant School?

The beginning of reading is the exploration of a range of texts, allowing the children to become familiar with the idea of reading and enjoy time spent with books.


In order for the children to read words themselves, they are then taught to identify the phonemes (sounds) within them. This is called Phonics. The children are taught daily using the 'Phonics Bug' scheme, which progresses through the phonemes, practicing blending (to read) and segmenting (to spell) and gives the children the skills that they need to become confident readers and writers. As a part of the learning process, the children are allocated 'Bug Club' books and e-books in line with their phonics knowledge.


Once the children are able to decode words, they explore other aspects of reading such as fluency and expression. This is taught discretely and practised through the repetition of texts and the modelling of the teacher.

Throughout their reading journey the children also learn to understand the texts that they read, moving from simple observations about it e.g. it is about a cat, to inference e.g. I think that the man is disappointed because he is crying. These comprehension skills are taught through whole-class reading lessons and Guided Reading sessions but also across the curriculum as different texts are explored. To ensure that children are aware of the areas of reading that they are exploring, we use the language and questioning of VIPERS (vocabulary, inference, prediction, explanation, retrieval, summary). This is summarised in the 'Reading skills and questioning' document at the top of this page.


If you would like to learn more about how your child uses phonics or how reading is taught in school then please speak to their class teacher, who would be happy to talk to you about the learning process and how you can support at home.



Which books will my child read?

At Oakley we firmly believe in 'quality' rather than 'quantity' when it comes to books and we select our reading materials carefully to ensure that the children are exposed to high-quality, diverse texts that inspire a love of reading and writing. Within the classroom, the children have access to a range of texts, including topic-based books, and these are changed regularly to add excitement and keep the stock fresh. Each class also has access to the new school library, where children are encouraged to choose a book per week to take home, as well as selecting books to stock their classroom book corner. 


In addition to reading for pleasure, your child will read a minimum of twice per week at school with an adult and then, following this, will be allocated books to bring home. These should be shared with an adult at home and recorded in their reading diary. All books will be in line with your child's phonic knowledge and the expectation is that they will read a minimum of four times per week at home with an adult.


Your child will be allocated Bug Club e-books weekly in line with their phonics knowledge, which will also allow you to support their progress in Phonics. 


How will my child be supported?

Whole-class phonics ensures that all children are exposed to the sounds needed to make good progress in reading and writing. Should your child need additional support, this will be provided in the form of additional phonics/ reading/ writing sessions, support within the classroom and guidance for how to support at home. If you are at all concerned about your child's progress then please speak to their class teacher, who will be happy to discuss the best way to support your child effectively. 



As reading is central to life at Oakley Infant School, the impact is wide. It can be seen through the reading culture, as children talk about their reading for pleasure and have frequent discussions about their reading preferences. It can be viewed in the imagination of the children, as they take ideas from their own reading and develop their own stories or performances. It can even be seen in the staff room, as adults swap books and share reviews.


Through the teaching of systematic phonics and reading lessons the children make good progress in reading, developing confidence, fluency and understanding. They practice and apply these skills across the curriculum.


The impact will be monitored in the following ways:

  • Parents and carers will have a good understanding of how they can support reading at home, and contribute regularly to reading diaries.
  • Children will be enthusiastic about their reading and want to talk about it.
  • Children will independently be able to explore books and make choices about them.
  • Reading and Phonic assessments. 
  • The Phonics test results.

Please follow our newsletter and 'Library News' to find opportunities to engage with our school reading community and share your passion for reading with the children. 



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