Phonics and Reading

Reading and Phonics at Overleigh


We want children to learn to read so that they can enjoy a wide variety of stories and poems, develop their acquisition and understanding of language, feed their imaginations and develop an awareness of authors and author styles. We also recognise that children need to read to find information which will support and enrich their learning and enable them to fully access our curriculum. We aim to develop a love of books and learning by providing our children with access and exposure to a wide variety of texts throughout their time at Overleigh.


At Overleigh, we are guided by the National Curriculum for English - Reading (2014). The National Curriculum for English- Reading consists of 2 dimensions:

  • word reading
  • comprehension (both listening and reading)

Based on this, we aim to ensure that all pupils have: 

  • discrete, daily phonics teaching from the very start of school
  • the ability to speedily decode familiar and unfamiliar words with the overall aim of automaticity 
  • the ability to read fluently and with confidence
  • good comprehension skills
  • access to a wide range and genre of books
  • an appreciation and love of reading 
  • an increased vocabulary and developed language skills

We intend for our children to be inspired and enthused by books so reading is embedded in all areas of the curriculum.



Phonics and spelling

The teaching of phonics is key to the development of good reading skills. Children learn the sounds within words to help decode them. In EYFS, they learn to recognise each letter and match it to its sound. They then move onto groups of two letters (digraphs) or three letters (trigraphs) that say a new sound when put together. They learn how to pronounce these sounds (phonemes) correctly so that they can segment and blend words correctly. Children are also taught to recognise common high frequency words and 'tricky' words as well as being able to spell these. We follow Letters and Sounds to teach phonics throughout EYFS and KS1 and we enhance our teaching with Phonics Play to make learning active, fun and interactive. 

EYFS and KS1 children have daily phonics lessons of 20-30 minutes. This learning is then consolidated during English lessons and reading sessions to ensure that children use phonics as the route to decoding unfamiliar words.  We ensure that any child who has not passed the phonics check by the end of KS1 has further phonics teaching into KS2. In key stage 2 (years 3-6) teachers use the ‘No Nonsense’ spelling programme.



We start teaching children to read by using a structured, synthetic phonics approach, teaching the sounds that letters make so that children can “decode” the words on the page. Children are taught to segment and blend words for reading. Once children can do this, they are able to read books, with words, that match the sounds that they know. Children are taught “tricky” and common exception words alongside this phonic approach so that they build up a sight vocabulary of words that cannot be sounded out (decoded) hence their name, tricky words. This structured approach for learning to read continues through Reception, Year One, Year Two and beyond if required. As children progress through school, they will learn to read and understand texts using this phonic approach and other strategies such as the use of picture clues, the context of the word, meaning of the word and etymology.

All our early reading books are colour banded. Every colour band includes books from a range of reading schemes so that your child will experience a range of stories, text types and illustrations. The majority of books within the early book bands are fully decodable using phonics skills and knowledge. A range of published schemes are used including Big Cat Phonics, Oxford Reading Tree and Songbirds. When a child has sufficiently developed their reading skills they will be moved from the book banded books onto ‘free reads’. Children at this stage are able to choose from a wide range of reading material in our school libraries. 

Whole Class Shared Reading

Whole class shared reading is also taught throughout school and provides daily teaching of reading for ALL children with access to high quality texts, quality modelling of reading, opportunities to discuss vocabulary, punctuation and expression and all at a level higher than which they can independently read. Across school, we refer to this time as Reading with D.E.R.I.C and focus on 5 key reading skills.

Decode – Decode new words from the text using their developing phonic knowledge.

Explain – Explore and investigate the meaning of new words.

Retrieve – Retrieve information from the text to develop comprehension.

Interpret – Use the text to interpret meaning and inspire prediction. 

Choice – Comment on the author’s choice of vocabulary or style.


Reading for Pleasure

To wider promote a love of reading we encourage visits to the local library, the library van and visiting books fairs. We participate in national days such as World Book Day and invite authors and story tellers into school. We take part in the extreme reading challenge and summer reading challenges at the local libraries and also have an outside ‘Reading Shed’ where children can choose to read and swap books before school and during playtimes. As part of our whole school Rainbow Reading Reward Challenge, children are encouraged to select books of their choice to read and are awarded badges for the number of books they read. Similarly, the children also have subscriptions to an online reading library where gold stars are awarded for the number of books read.




Our English Curriculum is high quality, mastery led and is planned to ensure progression. Our teachers measure the impact of our curriculum through the following methods:

  • Ensuring children are provided with a wide range of stimulating books, authors and genres using recommended reading lists for each year group.
  • EYFS and Key Stage 1 have daily phonics sessions and access phonetically decodable books, matching the sounds they have been taught.
  • Writing sessions and whole class shared reading sessions are led by high quality texts.
  • Encourage parents to read with children at home and discuss books.
  • Value parental input and communicate through Home School Diaries.
  • Use the year group expectation overview grid of the year which describes where we are aiming for children to be by the end of the year. Monitor children’s progress at least once per week on the grids.
  • Running records and Headstart assessments are used termly (or when appropriate) alongside teacher assessment.


The leadership team and English Subject Leaders check that this impact is being secured through monitoring the subject on a regular and frequent basis. The method of monitoring supports the ongoing development of the curriculum. This includes:

  • Staff subject knowledge, which is continuously developed throughout the year through training courses, moderation opportunities and lesson observations.
  • Regular staff meetings to discuss and evaluate the latest guidance and best practise within the subject. From this, new strategies and methods of teaching are shared and implemented. 
  • Analysis of year group data to ensure progress and attainment and identify any need for early intervention.
  • The monitoring of books and lessons against the non-negotiables, so that inconsistencies can be addressed.
  • Tracking of content against the long-term plan of the school, to ensure the full breadth of the curriculum is met.

The impact of this is to ensure that children at Overleigh are fluent, confident and capable readers, which will enable them to be ready for the curriculum at Key Stage 3 and for life as an adult in the wider world. 



Additional Information


At Overleigh, we use the Letters and Sounds Phonics Programme. We begin teaching phonics in Reception and progress through the six phases in the Letters and Sounds document until the children have a strong grasp to underlie their reading and writing. Children are taught through a variety of games, activities, computer programs and apps.

During the summer term in Year 1 children are tested nationally using the Phonics Screen Check which provides part of the picture for their learning. Teachers can provide parents with information and advice through an annual workshop and by giving resources and suggestions for supporting phonics learning at home.


Our over-riding aim for children’s reading at Overleigh is to develop confident and fluent readers who thoroughly enjoy books. We introduce them to different authors across their time in the school such as Julia Donaldson in Key Stage 1 right up to Michael Morpurgo, and even William Shakespeare. Children are taught a variety of strategies and need to cross check these and monitor their reading for the best results. Later, when decoding is mastered, the emphasis shifts to higher order skills, such as inferring and deducing along with examining author intent. We don't rely on any single reading schemes, however we make most use of Oxford Reading Tree.

In Key Stage 1 children are heard to read twice per week as the norm and once per week in Key Stage 2. Children are expected to read in guided groups, led by the adult to focus on particular skills or questioning. A home/ school reading diary/ journal comes back and forth to school and home to build a dialogue to help the reader progress.


Guidance as recommended minimum reading from children at home:

EYFS: Children read  5x per week for 5 minutes each time

KS1:  Children read  5x per week for 10 minutes each time

LKS2: Children read  3x per week

UKS2: Children read  3x per week

01244 267525


Overleigh St. Mary's CE Primary School

Old Wrexham Road


Chester, CH4 7HS

01244 267525

Our Latest Tweets