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Phonics & Early Reading

At Manor Infant School we believe that for all our children to become fluent readers and writers, phonics must be taught through a systematic and structured phonics programme.


We use Essential Letter and Sounds to plan and provide daily engaging phonics lessons. In phonics, we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent a different sound, that these can be used in a variety of combinations and are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise all of the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing. Our phonics teaching starts as soon as the children join us in Reception and follows a very specific sequence that allows the children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies as they move through school. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover. The modelling of these strategies in shared reading and writing both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum is key to allowing the children to succeed. Speaking and Listening skills are crucial for reading and writing in all subjects; we therefore encourage the development of language skills and extension of vocabulary across the school. 


How we teach phonics

In Reception and Year 1, children follow the progression within the Essential Letters and Sounds programme. Phonics is taught daily, with a reading session on a Friday. 

At the beginning of the year, phonics lessons in Reception are 10 minutes long, with daily additional oral blending opportunities.  Lessons are increased in length to between 20 and 30 minutes when the children are ready.

Year 1 lessons are 20-30 minutes long.

In Year 2, phonic lessons are taught daily to children where appropriate – following the model of ELS through the use of their Enable Intervention, which supports children who may find phonics more challenging to keep up, rather than catch up.  



Reading practice sessions

  • Every child at Manor Infant School is given a matched phonetically decodable text to read every week, which they are expected to read three times with their parent/carer to support their decoding, fluency, expression and comprehension.

  • Children in all year groups apply their phonics knowledge by using another matched decodable reader in a small group or individual reading practice session.

  • In Year R, the children read individually with a familiar adult. The books the children access are phonetically matched to their stage of learning. The children take home a different text to read with their parent/carer which is also matched to their phonics knowledge.

  • In Key Stage 1, children continue to read with a familiar adult at least once a week in addition to their daily sessions. Every child is given a matched phonetically decodable text to read every week.

  • Children who form part of the lowest 20% are read with multiple times during the week in an effort to support them in closing the gap to their peers.

  • The children also have access to online phonetically decodable books via Oxford Owl so that they have access to a range of decodable texts at all times, including the school holidays.


How do we assess reading and phonics?

  • Phonics

    We use the online Essential Letters and Sounds tracker to assess both the sounds children know and their ability to blend these sounds in real and alien words. This happens in week 5 of each half term.

  • Children who may be falling behind are immediately identified and ‘Enable’ sessions are put in place – these sessions follow the Essential Letters and Sounds programme.



    When children read with an adult in school, the adult makes assessment notes about their reading skills and any new phonic sounds which the children are demonstrating that they know. These are recorded in the ‘Reading Packs’ which are set up by teachers for every child in the school.


    Phonics Screening Check

    In Year 1, children will take the national Phonics Screening Check in the summer term (June).

    Children who do not pass the Phonics Screening Check in Year 1, will re-sit this in the summer term of Year 2.


    End of Key Stage

    Year 2 pupils will take part in statutory assessments during May. The teaching they have received throughout their time in school supports them to take part in the assessments.