Reading and Phonics at Queensgate

Queensgate Approach to Reading

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." Dr. Seuss

Early reading at Queensgate Primary school is centred on the exploration of quality texts which engage and inspire children. Our curriculum promotes a love of reading and we have a wide range of teaching resources and texts to engage readers.  In our classroom environments, pupils continually use their reading skills to research and apply knowledge into their writing.

In Early Years and Key Stage 1 phonic skills are developed through highly focused, short daily sessions using the recommended synthetic phonics programme ‘Letters and Sounds’. The school offers opportunities for parents to attend phonics workshops in order to further increase understanding of the strategies used in school. 

What is phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully by decoding the text in front of them.

They are taught how to:

•             recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;

•             identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make - such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’; and

•             blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.

Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.

Why phonics?

Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7.

Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment.

Children who have been taught phonics also tend to read more accurately than those taught using other methods, such as ‘look and say’. This includes children who find learning to read difficult, for example those who have dyslexia.

How Phonics is taught at Queensgate Primary School

At Queensgate Primary School, the systematic teaching of Phonics is taught using Letters and Sounds. Throughout EYFS and KS1, Phonics is delivered through 30 minute daily sessions and is differentiated to cater to where the children are in their learning journey of Phonics. Children who also need to continue developing their Phonics skills will do so into KS2.


Assessment of Phonics.

Alongside the continued teacher assessments of Phonics that take place daily, the children’s progress is tracked termly by the English Subject Lead. This allows the progress of every child to be monitored, so further support can be offered if needed. At the end of Year 1, the Year 1 Phonics Screening check will take place. This is a national assessment that all Year 1 children take part in. Over the year, the staff involved will prepare the children for this screening check, so they know what to expect. Further information on how to support your child in preparation for the screening check will be offered nearer the time.

Reading at Queensgate Primary School

Reading for pleasure and enjoyment is a key element of our reading programme throughout school. The library, which sits at the heart of our school, contains a wealth of reading materials from Non- Fiction to Fiction. The children have weekly library sessions where they spend time selecting and reading books they wish to take home and share.  The school recognises and values the significant role of parents in further developing reading skills.

Quality texts are used as hooks into learning across the curriculum. A rich diet of books from modern classics to contemporary fiction along with high interest non-fiction texts are used to engage our children into new areas of learning.

National book events such as ‘World Book Day’ are also celebrated, alongside visits from authors and poets.


Author visit from Rob Biddulph  - Odd Dog Out creator

How we teach reading @ Queensgate Primary School

Reading is a core skill that allows children access to all areas of the enriched curriculum, and is in fact an essential and rewarding life skill. Books are placed at the heart of every topic, and reading is integral to everyday school life.

In Foundation stage and Key stage 1 we have Guided Reading sessions. This is where the class teacher teaches the children in small groups. Here they learn to apply their phonics, use the pictures, segment and blend words, read around the tricky word, etc. They learn to ask and answer questions about the book to develop their comprehension of the text.

In Nursery, pupils take home a book from our Library to share with Parents. All children also take home a story sack which has a quality picture book and related resources and materials to support early language acquisition. Nursery children who are due to start Reception the following academic year will also have a book banded, wordless picture book to further their development of story language.

From Reception to Year 2, a book banded contextual book and a phonic book are sent home. This encourages the children to practise phonic skills, at their level. Library books are also sent home to allow children to share a range of text types and develop their reading for pleasure.

Whilst the children are still learning the mechanics of reading, an adult in school will listen to them read. Supporting your child to read at home every night will help your child to make progress.

Key stage 2   

Here at Queensgate, we use a whole-class reading approach where rich and challenging texts are at the centre of our practice. An assortment of reading skills are taught alongside the text which provide the children with the skills to comprehend and understand a variety of genres.     

Why this approach?

•             It is a focused approach where reading skills are explicitly taught.

•             It expands pupils' vocabulary and deepens their understanding of the texts they are reading.

•             Children are able to access rich and challenging texts, with the opportunity to learn from each other and discuss different perspectives.

•             This approach enables verbal discussions and written responses.

•             This approach increases the children’s stamina for reading.

•             These lessons focus on the core reading skills such as summarising, sequencing, retrieval, inference, prediction and vocabulary.

By Key Stage 2, children should ideally be a fluent and confident reader. At this stage, they still need to continue to read daily at home. There is a programme of interventions available for those children who require additional support in their reading journey.

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