Teaching Phonics


What do we teach? 

At Ipplepen Primary School, Pearson Bug Club is used to teach synthetic phonics, as a DfE approved systematic synthetic phonics programme.  

A graduated approach is used, children in our Saplings Nursery begin Phase 1 of the programme and then children begin Phase 2 phonics as soon as they enter our Reception class. Phonics is taught daily through a systematic approach. Children are taught within their class and any additional support required is delivered in small groups.  

In EYFS, children begin by developing an awareness of sounds through stories, rhymes and games. They quickly move on to learn the links between individual letters and their sounds. There are 44 different sounds to be learnt and again these are taught in a systematic way throughout Early Years and Key Stage 1. 

How do we teach phonics? 

Within Early Years and KS1 classes, phonics is taught discreetly in a daily session. Children then apply their new skills when reading books from the Phonics Bug scheme which match the letters and sounds that they have previously learnt. 

Teachers regularly assess children’s progress to check where they are and what they need to learn next. 



We adopt a graduated approach to the teaching of reading, using the following steps: 

Phonics based approach 

A phonics-based approach is used in our Reception and Year 1 classes to introduce children to reading. Children learn to decode books that are closely matched to the letters and sounds they are currently learning. 

Children are encouraged to read at home on a daily basis. Children keep the same book to allow them to apply their skills to decode the text. They then keep the same book to allow them the opportunity to practise reading for fluency, using the ‘three times for fluency’ rule. A reading record book is used as a communication tool between parents and teachers and allows regular updates on reading progress. 

Children are also provided with log in details for Bug Club online reading resource. Here, children can practise phonics through appealing games and activities. They also have access to a wide range of additional e-books, arranged by difficulty using the coloured book band system that teachers allocate based on a child’s current stage of learning. 


Book bands 

When children move beyond Phase 5 phonics and a predominantly phonics approach to reading, then children are taught a broader range of reading skills to develop their understanding of the texts they read. Books are grouped by the Bug Club coloured book band system and pupils are directed towards the appropriate band for their reading level. When they are confident within a level, the children are assessed using a particular title from the colour band they are reading before moving on to the next colour level. Children continue to log their home and school reading in their Reading Record book. Regular reading continues to be encouraged. 


Lime Plus Bridging Band 

By the time that the children are able to read books within the Lime Plus colour band, they will soon be ready to move into the next phase of reading. Books in the Lime Plus colour band act as a bridging band to develop the children’s independent reading skills, confidence and fluency. 

When children are able to read fluently and independently they are assessed using the Star Reading system for Accelerated Reader. The assessment provides a standardised score and a reading age for the child. If they achieve the required standard then they are eligible to begin using Accelerated Reader. Teachers monitor children’s reading scores to ensure the system is right for them. 


Accelerated Reader 

The Accelerated Reader approach moves away from the traditional reading scheme to include books by a range of popular, modern and classic authors and poets. There are also non-fiction texts, graphic novels and play scripts to name a few additional text types. 

The system determines the level of readability for this vast range of texts. After assessment, children are allocated a numerical range from which they can choose books. This is closely monitored by teachers. 

Independent reading and level of understanding is confirmed through an online retrieval quiz taken on the completion of a book. Children are expected to achieve a minimum of 85% success rate over the term. 

We provide books that broaden horizons and help learners connect with the world around them with a focus on positive moral values, developing empathy and showing diversity. 


Whole Class Reading & Group Reading 

At Ipplepen Primary School, we believe that children need to be directly taught the skills required to read, interrogate and understand the different texts that they read. We do this through our Whole Class Reading approach in Key Stage 2 and Group Reading in Key Stage 1. 

Group Reading 

In our younger year groups (Reception and Year 1), whilst the focus is predominantly on developing the children’s phonological awareness and skills, we also believe in supporting the children to develop their vocabulary and comprehension of texts through the use of Group Reading sessions. These sessions take place every week using group reading texts from the Bug Club scheme; we have closely linked our texts to the same scheme we use to develop the children’s decoding skills for maximum consistency and coherence.  


Whole Class Reading 

Our Whole Class Reading approach is based on research which supports the idea that reading aloud is the foundation for literacy development, providing children with a demonstration of phrased, fluent reading. Children can listen on a higher language level than they can read, so reading aloud makes complex ideas more accessible and exposes children to vocabulary and language patterns that are not part of everyday speech. This, in turn, helps them understand the structure of books when they read independently (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996). It exposes less able readers to the same rich and engaging books that fluent readers can access independently, and entices them to become better readers. Students of any age benefit from hearing an experienced reading of a wonderful book.  

Our children from Year 2 to Year 6 have daily Whole Class Reading sessions throughout the week. These sessions are based on a whole class novel (read daily). During the sessions, the children are given opportunities to work with talk partners, work as a group and develop their independent thinking skills through a wide range of questions, focusing on the following areas across the sessions: vocabulary, inference, prediction, evaluation, retrieval, sequencing and summarising. 


Reading for Pleasure 

At Ipplepen Primary School we feel really passionately that the children develop a lifelong love of reading and books and that they choose to read for pleasure. We encourage the children to read a wide range of genres and authors, including non-fiction books, newspapers and novels. Alongside children’s reading books (Bug Club phonics books or AR books), they also take home a ‘reading for pleasure’ book which they can share with their parents. 

This year we have also introduced termly book clubs, which encourage children to read new and exciting books, as well as regular reading challenges with rewards.  

Book displays around the school inspire the children to choose books and authors that they may not have considered before. Additionally, we have also introduced a new ‘Author Island Adventure’ this year, which encourages the children to read more widely and broaden their experiences of text types, genres and authors. 

We have also worked hard to develop our reading spaces around the school; each class has a reading area for the children to enjoy, as well as our Reception/Key Stage One and Key Stage Two library spaces to inspire the children’s interest and enthusiasm for reading and books.