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Marion Richardson

Reading and Phonics at Marion Richardson


At Marion Richardson we aim to deliver the English curriculum in a way that is meaningful, engaging and meets the needs of all  our children. We are determined that every pupil will learn to read, regardless of their background, needs or abilities through the explicit teaching of reading skills. This in turn enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. As reading is at the heart of our curriculum, we introduce children to a range of rich texts which cover a range of experiences and perspectives with the aim of developing their appreciation and understanding of high-quality literature.

Reading, and exposure to quality literature, gives children the opportunity to  develop   culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. We aim to provide our pupils with all the skills of language that are essential to participating fully as a member of society; driven by the knowledge that only pupils who learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are able to effectively participate in wider society. (there is some unusual spacing but I guess this is part of justifying the margins?)

To achieve this, we ensure that:

  • there is a sharp focus on ensuring that younger children gain the phonics knowledge and language comprehension necessary to read and spell
  • reading is prioritised to allow pupils to access the full curriculum offer
  • a rigorous, sequential approach to the reading curriculum develops pupils’ fluency, confidence and enjoyment in reading
  • at all stages, reading attainment is assessed and gaps are addressed quickly and effectively for all pupils
  • at the early stages of learning to read, reading materials are closely matched to the learners’ phonics knowledge

Phonics and Early Reading

We teach using the THE Partnership Phonics programme which is validated by the DfE. Further information can be found at https://www.the-partnership.org.uk/school-improvement/the-partnership-phonics-programme

There are four key concepts that we teach to all pupils, these are:

  1. Letters are symbols (spellings) that represent sounds.
  2. A sound may be spelled by one, two, three or four letters:

E.g. dog   street   night   eight

  1. The same sound can be spelled in more than one way:

E.g. rain   acorn   cake   day

  1. Many spellings can represent more than one sound:

E.g. head   seat   break 

There are three key skills that we teach to all pupils, these are:

  1. Blending: the ability to push sounds together to build words.
  2. Segmenting: the ability to pull apart the individual sounds in words.
  3. Phoneme manipulation: the ability to insert sounds into and delete sounds out of words. This skill is necessary to test out alternatives for spellings that represent more than one sound.

In order that  all pupils to make rapid progress through the cumulative stages of our programme, we ensure the teaching of synthetic phonics is systematic and progressive throughout the foundation stage, key stage one, and key stage two for those children needing interventions to support phonetic knowledge and understanding.

Teachers rapidly identify and address gaps in knowledge and/or skills already covered, while at the same time, moving on to teach new code knowledge and understanding of the concepts.

It must always be remembered that phonics is the step up to fluent word recognition. Automatic and effortless reading of all words is the ultimate goal. By repeated blending, segmenting and manipulation of words, pupils get to know them, and once this happens, they should be encouraged to read them straight off in reading text, rather than continuing to sound and blend  aloud because they feel that this is what is required.


At Marion Richardson synthetic phonics is taught ‘first and fast’, beginning in Nursery through to year 2. We follow THE Partnership Phonics Programme. This is a DfE approved phonics teaching programme.  The programme provides a structured route for children to meet or exceed the expected standard in the Y1 PSC (Phonics Screening Check) and all national curriculum expectations for word reading through decoding by the end of KS1.  The phonics programme allows for progression within each phase and is fully resourced, including planned interventions  and tracking systems, and is linked to a scheme of fully decodable books*. 

*The Bug Club Phonics books referred to are taken from the DfE validated Bug Club Phonics Systematic Synthetic Phonics Programme produced by Pearson Education Limited.

Prior to beginning the programme of teaching of GPCs (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondences), activities concentrate on developing pupils’ speaking and listening skills, phonological and phonemic awareness, and the key skills of oral blending, segmenting and manipulation. These experiences are intended to be used as part of a broad and rich language curriculum that has speaking and listening at its centre, linking language with physical and practical experiences, and provides an environment rich in print and abundant in opportunities to engage with high quality books. This phase paves the way for pupils to make a good start when they begin learning GPCs.

All Year One children take the ‘Phonics Screening Check’ - a statutory assessment required by legislation. Those who do not meet the pass mark will be given support and intervention programmes in Year Two, to provide them with sufficient knowledge and understanding to retake the ‘Phonics Screening Check’ and obtain a pass mark. Those children who do not obtain the required level set by the ‘Phonics Screening Check’ will receive phonics interventions in Year three and beyond until they have reached the end of Phase 5.  In Key-Stage Two interventions are based around the gaps identified through teacher assessment. Lessons are quick in pace, multi-sensory, engaging and challenging for all children within the lesson.

Children being able to confidently segment/blend (phonemic awareness) is a key skill for accurate word reading. As children are learning the first 12 GPCs (set 1 – 3), each lesson will begin with  oral blending and segment/blending  to ensure all children are confident with hearing their own voice and blending together the sounds they hear themselves make.

Each Phonics lesson includes the following sections:

  • Revise – Over learn the previous graphemes and words
  • Hear – Introduce a new grapheme by tuning into its sound
  • Read – Develop knowledge through reading focus GPC and words containing focus GPC
  • Write – Accurately spell focus GPC in words containing GPC
  • Apply – Use the focus GPC to read phrases/sentences or write dictated sentences to secure knowledge
  • Assess – Monitor progress within each phase to inform planning


Children in Nursery should be taught Phase 1 though a differentiated approach within the setting on a daily basis. Staff will teach phase 2 to any children identified as secure at phase 1.

Reception will be taught a discrete phonics session daily for a 20 minute period as a whole class. Intervention groups are put in place if and when the need is identified to ensure learners successfully access and move through the programme.  During the apply section, the activities will be differentiated to ensure that all children are reaching their full potential within a challenging and supportive environment. Continuous provision and the outdoor learning environment in EYFS support children in closing the gap and consolidating their phonic knowledge. Phonics mats should be freely available in the in each area of learning and outdoors. Phonics skills are embedded in writing and reading tasks in English sessions. The driving ethos should be for all children to have completed or be accessing Phase 4 by the end of Reception.

Year 1 will deepen their phonic understanding starting Phase 5 in the first half of the autumn term.  Children who have not reached the expected level by Year 1 will receive extra phonics support. Children in Year 1 have access to high quality daily phonics sessions for 20/25 minutes. The apply activities will be differentiated to ensure all children reach their full potential. The underlying aim of Year 1 should be to ensure all children have completed Phases 4 and 5 and be ready to begin the spelling programme upon entry into Year 2.

All staff teaching phonics receive training about the principles underpinning the SSP programme, and how to successful deliver daily lesson to ensure consistency of teaching and learning of early reading for all children. 

Classroom Environment

 In each class is a phase appropriate phonics display, concentrating on both sounds and key words that the children are currently learning. Phonics mats should be available in every lesson to support children’s early reading and writing across the curriculum and available in the Continuous Provision. In EYFS, the displays should reflect the letters and sounds that the children have been taught. This working wall will be updated weekly. Phonics activities will be out in the provision. The outdoor learning environment provides opportunities to consolidate learning and both the indoor and outdoor environment is rich with print.

Early reading

As pupils move through the phonics programme, they will be reading materials which are closely matched to the learners’ phonics knowledge, both in school and at home.  In this way, pupils will be encouraged to use their phonics skills and knowledge as their primary reading strategy. As pupils find that they can decode words quickly and independently, they will read more and more so that the number of words they can read automatically builds up. Increasing the pace of reading is an important objective.

During phonics lessons, pupils will be encouraged to read aloud as well as silently for themselves.  As pupils continue to progress through the phonics programme many pupils will begin reading longer texts with more complex words independently and with increasing fluency. This process culminates in a shift from learning to read to reading to learn. Pupils then move on to reading both for pleasure and for information. 

Phase 2 and 3 grapheme information support sheet

Guided Reading


In KS1, daily guided reading lessons take place. Children read books from schemes that are closely aligned to THE Partnership  Phonics Programme, giving the children the chance to apply and practice the skills and knowledge from their phonics lessons.  In their lessons, children are given the chance to read aloud and develop their fluency and discuss what they have read to deepen their understanding. In their independent sessions, children are given the chance to revisit skills and concepts taught in their adult led session.

In KS2, guided reading takes place Monday to Thursday during Autumn Term 1. Children read a variety of banded and real books. Where appropriate, children may still be reading books from our fully decodable scheme to ensure they are reading texts closely matched to their phonic knowledge and continue to use decoding as their primary strategy for reading.

Shared Reading

In KS1, shared reading takes place on Friday from autumn 2- this is dependent on the needs of the class and may start later in the school year. In KS2, from autumn 2, shared reading takes place Monday to Friday. Again, this is dependent on the needs of the class and may start later in the school year.  Here children are exposed to texts pitched above their independent reading level from a range of text types and genres. Teachers read with the children, giving the children the opportunity to read aloud and continue to develop their fluency skills. Across the course of the week, the teacher listens to children read so they remain aware of the individual strengths and needs of the children. Teachers explicitly model comprehension strategies such as clarifying, summarising, clarifying, questioning and visualisation. They also model the process of thinking aloud, monitoring, and checking reading for sense, identifying and correcting errors, and inferring unknown words from surrounding text/ exploring the meaning of words in context. The sessions give the children the chance to practise these strategies, which can then be applied when attempting to comprehend unfamiliar texts independently. The aim of our shared reading sessions is to allow children to discuss and deepen their understanding of the texts they are reading.


Reading focus lessons and dictation focus lessons are included throughout the SSP programme. These lessons provide opportunities for retrieval practice. They are designed for children to work independently and will provide assessment information for teachers as children move through each phase of the programme.  

End of phase assessments, carried out by the teacher, are also included in the programme for each phase. Due to the length of phase 5, there are 3 summative assessment points (at the end of set 18, set 22 and set 27).

Teachers make use of all the assessment outcomes to inform them of the progress children are making. It also enables teachers to adapt the provision if necessary to ensure the needs of individual pupils are met. Targeted interventions alongside high quality learning environments, ensure that no child is left behind.

As pupils begin to learn to read, they move to banded books and their progress through the bands is carefully tracked and analysed. Running records are used to identify particular strengths and weaknesses and next steps.

Outside of the phonics programme, teachers use their formative and summative assessment of children’s reading to identify areas for development and provide appropriate intervention.

A guide to reading with your child at home