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Phonics & Reading

Phonics and Reading

The ability to read is fundamental to pupils` development as independent learners and is the most important skill children will learn in their first years at school and this is why at Berry fostering a love of reading is a fundamental part of our curriculum.

Pupils need to use a range of strategies when they are reading and be able to read with fluency, accuracy, understanding and enjoyment across a range of literary and non fiction texts.

These strategies are depicted in the National Literacy Strategy as a series of searchlights: drawing on knowledge of context and grammatical knowledge; applying phonic knowledge and skills; applying graphic knowledge; developing word recognition.


What is phonics?
Phonics is one method of teaching children how to read and write. It’s all about sounds. There are 44 sounds in the English language, which we put together to form words. Some are represented by one letter, like ‘b’, and some by two (digraphs), like ‘ar’ in car or three (trigraphs), like ‘air’ in chair. Digraphs and trigraphs we call ‘Special Friends’.


A phonics lesson
begins with revising any sounds the children have already been taught. Then the teacher will introduce a new sound and its spelling.


How will it work?
Children are first taught the pure ‘set 1 sounds’ so that they will be able to blend the sounds in words more easily.


Order sounds are taught

In school when children say the sounds in words we call this ‘Fred Talk’.They learn a sound a day and the order of teaching these sounds has been specially developed so that children can start reading complete words as soon as possible. We do not use letter names at this stage; we simply focus on the sounds that are used to sound out words.


When learning the Set 1 sounds, the children are not only taught the ‘sound’ the letter makes, but also how to form the letter, using a rhyme and picture prompt (attachment handwriting phrases). Every lesson begins with recapping on previously learnt sounds and the children are encouraged to read the ‘Green’ word cards (green for go!) by blending sounds they have learnt to read the words. As they become more confident using ‘Fred talk’ to read words, they are encouraged to use ‘Fred in their head’, where they read words silently in order to just say the word.

The children are regularly assessed throughout the teaching and learning of Set 1, 2 and 3 sounds and intervention is given to children who need more time focusing on specific sounds previously learnt, but not remembered. On completion of learning each of the sound sets the children are assessed and are then grouped according to the phonics sounds that are embedded. Teaching is then differentiated in order to support the specific needs and next steps of the children in each group.


Alongside the teaching of phonics, children are also taught ‘red words’. These are words that cannot be sounded out using phonic sounds and therefore need to be learnt by sight.

Accelerated Reader (AR)

At Berry, children during year 2, move to our Accelerated Reader (AR) programme.  This is a reading programme that helps teachers manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. Your child picks a book at their own level and reads it at their own pace. When finished, your child takes a short quiz on the computer. (Passing the quiz is an indication that your child understood what was read.) Accelerated Reader gives children, teachers, and parents feedback based on the quiz results, which the teacher then uses to help your child set goals and direct ongoing reading practice.

Children using Accelerated Reader take a Star Reading Quiz every half term and the result of this gives them the reading level range they can choose from.  They then choose their own books to read, rather than having one assigned to them. This makes reading a much more enjoyable experience as they can choose books that excite them and this in turn, nurtures a love of reading in our children.

Useful phonics websites for applying phonics skills:


Lots of videos and games to help with recognising letters and reading. We watch Alphablocks in school so your child might recognise some of these already!

Phoneme pop! – the sounds/letters drift by on bubbles and your child has to pop the matching sound!

Letters and sounds initial sound game
This game lets your child reveal a sound/letter and then try to find the picture that starts with the same sound.

BBC bitesize

This game allows your child to listen to the sounds in a word and to pick the correct letter. Then they can see what word they have made with all of the sounds together.

Phonics play

there are several free games to play that will help your child with their blending and segmenting.

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