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Knollmead Primary School

Phonics and Reading

At Knollmead we believe that English is a fundamental life skill.


Knollmead Primary School has a clear, consistent, whole school approach to reading, which recognises that reading needs a multi-strategy approach. Competence and pleasure in reading is the key to independent learning and is given the highest priority, enabling the children to become enthusiastic, independent and reflective readers. Success in reading has a direct effect upon progress in all other areas of the curriculum and is crucial in developing children's self confidence and motivation.

We organise the reading in school and at home to provide as many opportunities as possible to:

Read to

We read to the children as often as possible with class texts, assembly stories and library club and we encourage parents to read to their children at home. We introduce key authors to the children in each year group to broaden their reading experience and help them find books that they will enjoy. We ensure we read a range of fiction, non fiction and poetry to the class over each year.

Read with

We use whole class guided reading which includes lots of choral reading and practice of fluency. Children reading alongside the teacher provides them with support to develop their expression and pace when reading.

Read by…...the child

Whilst on the reading scheme children are provided with 3 types of books and these are changed once a week.

  • Two books which are easy for them to decode which they can use to develop their fluency and storytelling skills with.

  • A book which is at their decoding ability to help them practice the phonics they have been learning.

  • An interest book which they have chosen from the reading corner or library. This is designed for their parents to read to them so that they hear a good example of reading and a range of vocabulary. Parents can read books to their children in any language which they use at home.

When they progress from the reading scheme, children are encouraged to use the ‘five finger test’ to choose a book to read. This ensures that they are able to decode and understand the text in order to be able to enjoy it.

Sometimes they might choose an easier book and focus on their fluency and storytelling and other times they would choose a ‘perfect choice’ book to develop their vocabulary and decoding skills.

Our aim is to develop a lifelong love of reading in our pupils.



At Knollmead, we use the Sounds-Write phonics programme to teach our children to read, spell and write.  Sounds-Write is effective in teaching pupils to read, spell and write because it starts from what all children know from a very early age – the sounds of their own language. From there, it takes them in carefully sequenced, incremental steps and teaches them how each of the sounds in the English language can be spelt.

We explicitly teach the children the 3 skills of:

  • blending

  • segmenting

  • phoneme manipulation (sound swapping)

The children are taught to decode and encode by understanding 4 clear concepts:

  • letters are symbols that represent sounds that they say

  • sounds can be spelt using 1,2,3 or 4 letters: ‘s a t’, ‘f i sh’, ‘n igh t’ and ‘w eigh t’

  • the same sound can be spelt in different ways: the sound 'ae', spelt as in 'name', can be represented as in 'table', in 'rain', in 'eight', in 'play', and so on

  • the same spelling can represent different sounds: the spelling ‘ea’ can be the sound 'e' in 'head', 'a-e' in 'break', or 'ee' in 'seat'

In Reception, children learn the initial code and learn to build CVC words using single letter sounds, for example, 'mum', 'dog', 'jam' and 'sit'. When the children are secure with building and reading at this level, the complexity of one-syllable words is carefully increased through a variety of VCC, CVCC, CCVC, CCVCC and CCCVC words, such as, for example, 'elf', 'hand', 'swim', 'trust' and 'scrub'. Next, the children are taught the concept that one sound can be represented by 2 letters such as /ch/, /sh/ and /ck/.

In Year 1 and 2, two, three and four letter spellings are introduced. The concepts that one spelling can represent different sounds and the same sound can be spelt in different ways are also taught.  

Throughout KS1 and KS2 children are taught how to read and spell polysyllabic words, starting with simpler words (such as 'bedbug') and gradually moving to the more complex (such as 'mathematical').

Sounds-Write provides opportunities for practising these skills on an everyday basis until pupils achieve the automaticity required for fluent reading and spelling.

If you would like to learn more about our approach to phonics, please register for the online course, free for everyone! 


Writing is a vital means of communicating our thoughts, instructions, opinions, knowledge and ideas and it is essential that all pupils have the opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to put this into practice. We aim to create learning situations in which all children will experience a structured approach to learning writing skills (including grammar and handwriting) in order to become competent writers.

Speaking and Listening

We believe that communication, both oral and written, is the key to success, to social integration and to personal development and happiness. We aim to equip our children with the skills, knowledge and experiences they need to use language effectively.  Speaking and listening activities are embedded throughout the curriculum. Teachers encourage the regular use of 'Learning Partners' and group discussion to allow children to develop their oral skills and their ability to communicate and cooperate with their peers. Key vocabulary is pre taught to the children giving them the necessary tools to enable them to fully participate in all lessons.