Teaching Phonics and Reading

At William Martin we use a variety of different approaches and schemes in our teaching of reading and phonics. While we do not follow any one reading scheme we do draw on materials produced by Oxford Reading Tree, Collins and Project X.  

Phonics: Our parents Guide

What is phonics?

  • Phonics is the knowledge of phonemes and graphemes and how these are used to read and spell words.
  • Phonemes are the sounds that are made by a single letter or group of letters.
  • A Grapheme is the written equivalent of a phoneme.


  • To ensure the delivery of high quality, systematic phonic work for all children.
  • To establish consistent practice, progression and continuity in the teaching and learning of phonics and spelling throughout the school.
  • To give all children word work strategies that will enable them to become fluent readers and confident writers.
  • To differentiate phonics and spelling work to enable all children to progress and achieve at appropriate levels.

Teaching and Learning

At William Martin we teach phonics using a combination of schemes centred around the ‘Letters and Sounds’ approach. ‘Letters and Sounds’ suggests a fast paced, clearly progressive approach to teaching phonics which is divided into six phases. Children progress through the phases at different speeds and to enable us to meet the needs of all children; we group the children according to the phase  they are working at. Within this we incorporate elements of 'Jolly Phonics' and other published schemes. 

Phonics is taught for a fifteen minute session on a daily basis in the Early Years/ Key Stage 1 classes and lower KS2 where appropriate. Sessions include a range of activities that allow the children to revise their knowledge, learn new sounds and apply and practice their skills. In Key Stage 2, the approach is carried on in spelling sessions and also intervention programmes for children who are not making sufficient progress.

High-quality phonics teaching helps children develop their reading, writing, spelling and general communication skills. It helps secure the crucial skills of word recognition that enables children to read fluently, allowing them to concentrate on the meaning of the text. Activities are designed to teach word decoding and recognition skills as well as comprehension skills.

Alongside this we use 'Action Words', a multi-sensory approach to teach reading skills, vocabulary and confidence.

Beginner readers are taught:

  • Grapheme – phoneme correspondences in clear stages (linking spellings and sounds).
  • The important skill of blending (synthesising) phonemes.
  • Segmenting words into their constituent phonemes to aid reading and spelling.

At the end of Year 1 there is a statutory assessment (Year 1 phonics screening check) which takes place in June each year. Parents are informed of the outcomes of this check.

Guided Reading

All children have the opportunity to take part in a shared reading experience in a small (4‐6) group guided by an adult. We use a range of text types from a selection of reading schemes, as well as ‘real ‘ texts such as news articles to ensure that children experience a broad range of texts and subjects.

Guided reading takes place on at least a weekly basis, in Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. In the Early Years Foundation Stage guided reading starts when the teacher feels the children have reached the appropriate level of maturity and skill.  

Shared Reading

This takes place during a English session and as such is planned within the English plans. This includes using big books or texts displayed on the Interactive White Board. During this time specific reading skills or features of differing genre will be taught. This is an opportunity to discuss the use of language, widen the children’s vocabulary and focus on higher order reading skills.

Individual Reading  

Children have regular experiences of reading throughout the school day and through a range of subjects. They may be researching information on the internet or using non‐fiction books in History or RE, or finding out about processes in science. Opportunities for individual, paired and group reading take place throughout the curriculum. All children have at least one Individual Reading Book either from the schools graded reading scheme or the School Library /Class based free reader books.The school uses a colour banding scheme which links to the ‘guided reading book bands.’ By using this banding, we are able to place books from a wide range of published reading schemes into our graduated and progressive scheme which allows for progression of skills and difficulty of texts.  

We do not formally follow a single reading scheme, but prefer to draw on the books from a variety of different schemes to get the best balance of genres and styles to suit all learners.