Reading & Phonics

At Charnock, we aim to provide children with a continuous experience of reading throughout school which is understood and supported by families. As reading is a fundamental aspect of many lessons, this document merely hopes to provide an overview.

Everyone at Charnock Hall Primary School takes the learning and enjoyment of reading very seriously! Books have pride of place in every classroom. Our libraries are well stocked and regularly used by happy readers.

Thanks for taking the time to read these procedures; co-operation between home and school really does provide children with the best learning experiences.

Claire Bonnett, Literacy co-ordinator.


Phonics is a way of teaching children to read and write quickly and skilfully. They are taught how to recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes; identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make – such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’ and blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word. Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read. Children also learn to represent sounds using the correct graphemes (letters or combination of letters) and write these down to encode speech into the written word.

The Department For Education’s guide for parents, Learning To Read Through Phonics, includes information about the Phonics Screening Test that children take in year one.

At Charnock Hall Primary School, phonics is taught daily throughout foundation stage two and key stage one, using ‘Letters and Sounds’ in ability groups.

In 2015 81.7% of Year One children passed the phonic screening check; 93.3% of pupils had passed by the end of year two.

Phonic interventions are used in junior year groups where necessary.

This link will take you to a website where phonics games can help learning at home – some free activities – individual subscription £12 per annum. Phonics Play. Further phonics support is available through EducationCity UK. School pay for each child to have access to the content of this website and log-in details are available from your child’s class teacher.

Reading Books

All children have access to books in school to take home and read regularly. Teachers and teaching assistants are responsible for making sure that children are choosing books of the right level (known in school as Book Bands), but where possible children should select their own books. Book banded shelves are in the reception classroom, in the corridors of year one and two, and in the junior library. School constantly strives to keep an updated selection of reading scheme books along-side other books of similar levels available for children to choose.

Children who have reached the end of the book banded levels are described as “free readers” but still need guidance to choose age-appropriate books that provide sufficient challenge.

Reading books are provided for reading at home; teachers generally don’t use these books to hear children read. Reading in school is done in a variety of other ways, such as Guided Reading and literacy lessons.

Guided Reading

Every week children read with the teacher in a small group session called Guided Reading. This is the most important way for us to teach reading, as children are challenged and supported as necessary. Children will be helped, or reminded, to write the date and book title in their Home School Reading Journals so that their family can see what they have been reading in school.

As an alternative to guided reading, some classes are also experimenting with whole-class book studies, which we have seen working successfully in our family of schools. This enables all children to access more challenging texts and we are seeing a high level of engagement among less able readers.

Reading Buddies

We have set up a buddy-system, where Reading Experts, from older classes, are paired up with a younger child for regular reading sessions. These include hearing the younger child read, or reading fun stories to them. These projects are highly successful and benefit the expert in terms of confidence and responsibility, as well as the enthusiasm and reading of the young child.

Target Setting

Children are given targets to improve their reading, and a record of these can be found inside the back cover of the Home School Reading Journal. This provides parents with an ongoing record of their child’s progress.


Every half term children on book bands are assessed to check that they are making suitable progress. A note of this is made in the Home-School Reading Journal for parents to see. Teachers also use reading tests to check whether children are meeting age related expectations.

Teachers regularly provide the assessment co-ordinator with a national curriculum sub-level for each child. This information is collected by teachers during guided reading sessions, and supported by the book banding process and more formal tests. It is used to ensure that children are making expected progress or reaching expected levels. Parents are informed of National Curriculum levels in the end of year reports and parents’ evenings.

Record Keeping

Teachers record reading levels in the assessment folders every term and complete a pupil progress tracker for their class. They also keep their own records of children’s levels and progress in whatever ways they find useful.

Reading At Home

There is a strong evidence to prove that reading at home has a positive impact on achievement. However, this continues way beyond primary school. Children who read for enjoyment from an early age are more successful in GCSEs and A levels!

At Charnock Hall Primary School, children who do read regularly are rewarded with certificates in Key Stage One and extra playtime in Key Stage Two.

Home School Reading Journal

All children have been given a Home School Reading Journal. It has been designed to help families support their children’s reading at home, and keep them informed about the reading children do in school. When it’s not being used, please remind your child to keep their Home School Reading Journal in their book folder, or school bag, so it is always available at home or school. It will be filled in by children when they read independently and by every adult who hears the child read.

Every half term, teachers will check the Home School Reading Journal to ensure that children are reading regularly and are choosing appropriate books.

Home School Reading Journals move up through the year groups with the children and are replaced when they are full.

There are two versions of the Home School Reading Journal, one for children reading Book Banded books, and one for Free Readers.

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