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St Cuthbert's Catholic School

St Cuthbert's Catholic School

Phonics and Reading



At our school, we are committed to developing children’s phonic knowledge and abilities to help them to be capable readers. We know this will help them throughout their life and see it as our responsibility and duty to the children to give them the best start that we possibly can.


Reading is at the core of our curriculum at St Cuthbert's. Being able to read unlocks the curriculum and the world beyond school for our children, and we firmly believe working together in partnership with parents is fundamental to developing children's reading ability and enjoyment for reading.


We teach early reading through Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP). We have adopted a new DfE-accredited phonics scheme called ‘Success for All’. More information can be found below.


There is a parents' portal available to all parents for additional help and advice, as well as a wealth of resources, including all of the books your children will be reading in school and at home, as a digital version.


What is 'Success for All'? 


‘Success for All’ has been validated by the Department for Education. The reading books run directly alongside what the children are learning in phonics so they can practice what sounds they are currently learning.


The Reception and Year 1 children have a daily reading lesson in addition to the phonics lesson, where they spend a week reading the same book, linking directly to their phonics lessons. 


Throughout the week, children will work on the following skills: exploring the book, reading ‘green’ words (decodable words they are learning), learning how to read ‘red’ words that are the ‘tricky’ or ‘common exception words’ for their year group, reading the text chorally as a class, partner reading, discussing what they have read, comprehension questions/skills and writing about what they have read. This helps build confidence and fluency, enabling children to become successful independent readers.


Please encourage your child to read this book at home. This will give them the opportunity to practice the knowledge of sounds and the segmenting and blending skills they have learnt in phonics at home, by reading these fully decodable books (at their level). This will also give you, as parents a better understanding of where your child is at with phonics and support you, in helping them at home.


The Success for All reading books are issued to each Phonics Group on a Monday morning by their group teacher and they link directly to the phonemes children are learning in their group at the time of issue. They are a superb way of reinforcing the phonemes and graphemes they are learning, through exciting stories and also non-fiction texts. These books are also available digitally. You will find the access details on the inside cover of your child’s home school diary. Please only read the book that your child is currently focusing on.


These reading books are used daily in school, so it is vital that your child brings their phonics book to school daily in the wallet provided.


Phonics Progression 


The scope and sequence on the chart below is a guide to what your child will be learning at each phase and Term at St Cuthbert's. Progression is built in throughout the programme with an increase in the level of challenge in the skills taught at each phase. 


To support both teachers and children, the phonics lessons follow a consistent daily structure with clear timing goals for each activity. This consistent approach enables lessons to be taught with pace as everybody understands the routine and what is expected. Each lesson lasts 25 minutes and follows the same basic sequence each day:


• Review of Previously Taught GPCs (10 minutes)

• Teach, Practise and Apply New GPC (15 minutes)


Phonics advice for parents


It is important that you pronounce the phonemes clearly and correctly. This will help your child when they learn to blend phonemes together. If you are learning a new phoneme with your child, ensure you say the phoneme over and over again so that they can really process it. Think of lots of words with that sound, that they know and show them pictures of those objects with the word written underneath.


For practicing letter formation, try this in a variety of ways such as: forming it with a finger in the air, on the palm of the hand, on the back of someone, on the floor, in paint, glitter or sand. Try these before writing on a whiteboard or paper.


If your child is practicing reading and writing words with a new phoneme they have learnt in school, encourage them to draw sound buttons under the word. They can clearly segment and then blend the phonemes together to read the word.


If you are looking at a phoneme with your child, tell your child the phoneme but explain that the phoneme is represented by the letter ___ and tell them the letter name. They need to be able to distinguish between phonemes and letter names.


Alien/Pseudo/Monster Words


When your child begins to become confident in segmenting and blending activities in Year 1, they will be introduced to alien words in their phonics lessons. This is because in Year 1 all children take a Phonics Screen Check in June, which requires the children to read real and alien words. Alien words are not real words and they will only learn to decode and read these words.


The phonics screening check is designed to confirm whether individual children have learnt phonic decoding and blending skills to an appropriate standard. Alien words are included because they will be new to all pupils; they do not favour children with a good vocabulary knowledge or visual memory of words. This tests whether children know their sounds and can use them to decode new unfamiliar words. Below are some examples of alien words. 


Common Exception Words


Children in Year 1 and 2 need to learn to read and spell the common exception words below. They will be taught these in daily phonics lessons and will be given opportunities in other learning activities to learn these. These will be the words your child will bring home to learn each week to practise. They need to practise reading and spelling them, as well as apply them in their written work.