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Phonics and Early Reading


At Sheen Mount, we are passionate about supporting all children in becoming confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We believe that phonics provides the important foundations of learning needed to help make children’s development into fluent reading and writing, easier. Phonics is the process that is used to help children break down words into sounds (segmenting) and put sounds back together to read words (blending). It also helps with building letter and word recognition. Children further learn to segment words to support their spelling ability, making phonically plausible attempts at spelling words. Children develop a love of reading and develop comprehension skills alongside being confident, secure readers. Early reading skills and phonics is fundamental in giving children the skills needed to enjoy and access their learning and the wider world around them. By the end of their time here at Sheen Mount, our pupils will be able to read fluently and confidently, and enjoy reading for pleasure. Staff have secure subject knowledge and share experience and support with each other.

What phonics at Sheen Mount looks like:

Phonics at Sheen Mount follows the National Curriculum approved document “Letters and Sounds”. This allows our phonics teaching and learning to be progressive from Reception up to Year 2, as well as allowing children’s listening and speaking skills to develop. In Reception, phonics is taught through whole class teaching input and small group activities, using ‘Jolly Phonics’ actions, songs and activities. This continues into Year 1, with opportunities for revision and consolidation and careful progression of sounds and words. Year 2 build on this and further explore and investigate different rules and patterns. Children practise oral segmenting and blending skills, apply them to reading words and sentences and develop the grapheme phoneme correspondence with writing. Where extra intervention is necessary, this is provided for children throughout Key Stage 1 and in Lower Key Stage 2, intervention continues for those that need support. In order to support transition, children in Year 3 will cover some aspects of Year 2 word reading before moving on to their own programmes of study.

See document 'Sheen Mount Progression of Phonics Phases'

Early Reading at Sheen Mount (EYFS-KS1) 

At Sheen Mount, we recognise not only the importance of being able to read, but also the pleasure and enjoyment being able to read brings us. Early reading skills and phonics is fundamental in giving children the skills needed to enjoy and access their learning and the wider world around them. We want to encourage all pupils to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction so that they develop an appreciation of reading. Throughout the years, children will develop their reading skills so that they become confident readers, are able to gain knowledge across the curriculum, and enhance their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live in. By the end of their time here at Sheen Mount, our pupils will be able to read fluently and confidently, and enjoy reading for pleasure. 

Children have plenty of opportunities for reading and experience different kinds of reading with us:

  • During English through shared reading and guided reading sessions, and during phonics lessons
  • In smaller groups with a teacher through guided reading (Year 1, Summer term)
  • 1:1 reading with a teacher and teaching assistant
  • 1:1 reading intervention sessions
  • Reading throughout the day inside and outside of lessons
  • Children are formally read with either 1:1 or in guided group every 2 weeks 
  • Longer reading sessions/reading conferencing is used to support assessment


Teachers use a variety of ways to assess children’s development and achievement, using this information to then provide next steps and support accordingly.


  • Termly phonics assessments checks
  • Practise phonics screening checks and real check (End of Year 1, retakes in Year 2)
  • Exception words reading checks
  • Phoneme and Grapheme correspondence check
  • Spelling exception words linked to spelling tests
  • Updating Target Tracker Statements and Band Levels


  • Regular 1:1 reading to support teacher assessment
  • Guided Reading in small groups for comprehension
  • Reading conferencing
  • Reading comprehension tests
  • Updating Target Tracker Statements and Band Levels

Reading Schemes

In Reception, children have 1 scheme book per week, chosen by children from a selection which links to the phonics ability and knowledge.

In KS1, children have 2 reading scheme books and choose their own free choice book from the class reading area. Children choose their own reading book, especially in Year 2, and support is given to children in Year 1 to help them choose a phonically decodable book that suits their phonics ability, based on teacher assessment. A reading diary is sent home and parents feedback on their child’s reading. Teachers also comment in the records when children have formally been read with. Children also have access to the OxfordOwls website in order to access books remotely. In Year 3, children continue to access the scheme books for those that need to work on reading fluently.

We use a variety of reading scheme books such as Floppy Phonics, Songbirds, ReadWriteInc, Biff, Chip and Kipper stories and Fireflies. This gives children access to a wider range of interesting texts and helps to balance fiction and non-fiction. 

The different scheme books are banded into colours (Lilac, Pink, Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, Orange, Turquoise, Purple, Gold, White, Lime, Lime +, Grey). They have been carefully grouped to provide progression, from very simple texts (Pink Band) to texts for more fluent readers (White band). However, it is important to remember that children do develop as readers at different rates and at Sheen Mount, we want to support children’s reading journey in a personal way.

The colour stages are mostly aligned to the phonics phases and some of the schemes match more closely to this than the others. Teachers use children's phonics ability and knowledge and match the colour band books to this. Books are matched in this way in order to support children in using and applying their phonics skills to phonically decodable books, and in order to support children's confidence in being able to read successfully, but also with a good level of challenge. The chart below details progression through the book bands.

Please see the document 'Sheen Mount Reading Scheme Colour Bands linked to Phonics Phase Progression'. 


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