Skip to content ↓

Highbury Primary School

Early Reading and Writing

At Highbury Primary School and Nursery we aim to immerse children in a rich reading environment and give them the opportunity to explore a wide range of quality texts. This supports word recognition, comprehension and vocabulary development.

How will my child be taught to read?

At Highbury Primary School and Nursery, we follow the Letters and Sounds phonics programme in Nursery, Reception and Key Stage 1. This is taught alongside Phonics Play and ‘Jolly phonics’  which uses actions and pictures to consolidate the children’s phonic knowledge. We will also use this for those pupils in Key Stage 2 who need further phonic support.

This programme is taught alongside regular shared reading of stories and books, to help instil an early love of reading. Pupils work through phases of learning during ‘phonics’ lessons, made up of ‘revisit, learning, practise and apply’; these take place daily from the start of Reception until the end of Year 2.

What is Letters and Sounds?

There are five phases, each prioritising reading and spelling using synthetic phonics:

Phase 1: Hearing and articulating sounds

Phases 2 and 3: Learning one way of writing (i.e. one grapheme) each sound (phoneme)

Phase 4: Practising blending and segmenting words with clusters of sounds

Phase 5: Learning about alternative graphemes for any given phoneme

As pupils move through the phases of learning, there is a growing emphasis on using a variety of strategies to read and spell words; pupils are strongly encouraged to think about strategies that work for them.

This is closely linked to ‘Key words (Year R)’ and ‘Tricky words (Year 1 onwards)’ for each year group – these are words (or parts of words) for which ‘phonics’ may not be the best strategy to help with reading and spelling. 

What happens in the Summer Term for my child in Year 1?

In the summer term of Year 1, pupils are assessed on their ability to read phonetically decodable words up to Phase 5 (e.g. eat, street, donkey). Pupils who do not pass this screening receive subsequent ongoing systematic support in phonics to help close the gap to their peers.

When will my child take home a reading book?

As soon as children start in Reception class they will take home a book to enjoy with you at home. Research shows that daily reading to or with your child will improve their language and progress at school. We believe reading at home should be a pleasurable experience for both adult and child. Start by reading the story books to your child and encourage them to join in on the parts they remember.

What books will my child read?

As your child becomes confident they will take home a colour banded reading book (a reading book matched to the sounds the children have learned). These are levelled books from a range of quality reading schemes such as Oxford Reading Tree, Songbird, Rigby Stars and Bug club (books only). The level will be carefully selected by the adult but the choice of the book is the child’s. The book they take home will be an easy read to support learning that has taken place at school, developing their book language, fluency and comprehension.

When can my child change their reading book?

Usually, your child's home reading book can be changed daily by your child. However, due to COVID risk assessment, children take home books on Monday and bring them back in on Friday. The books will then be changed on the following Monday after the books have been untouched over the weekend. Parents are invited to make comments in a home link book. Usually the children will have a weekly visit to the school library where they can select a story book to share with you at home. Currently, we are revising this system in light of COVID.

How else do you engage the children to read?

Termly we hold a Bedtime stories evening. Children and their parents/carers or other family members are welcome. This year, we will be doing this virtually.

Children will have a wide range of reading opportunities throughout the school week.

· Whole class stories and big books stories.

· Group reading sessions where children are taught skills in reading and will read a text that is slightly more challenging.

· We also have times where a child reads to an adult, on their own.

How will my child be supported in reading?

Some children may find the early stages in reading tricky or they seem to stay at the same level for a long time. For these children, we provide 1 to 1 reading sessions where they will follow an accelerated reading or FFT programme. This will occur 3 to 5 times a week by a trained TA or teacher in reading and provide the support they need.

We aim for the children to become fluent in spoken and written English. We achieve this by providing a wide variety of learning experiences. This includes daily English lessons for all age groups using the renewed framework for literacy and the national phonics programme, Letters and Sounds.