At Hampden Gurney School, reading is at the heart of our curriculum. We are committed to developing literacy skills through uniting important skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening through a stimulating and engaging curriculum. We believe that proficient literacy understanding is a fundamental life skill and aim to teach children to become confident and competent readers by learning how to word read, by developing comprehension skills which children can apply across the curriculum, as well as developing a life-long love of reading for pleasure. Parents are actively encouraged to be involved in their child’s reading journey throughout their time at school.
“ Between the ages of four and nine, your child will have to master some 100 phonics rules, learn to recognise 3,000 words with just a glance, and develop a comfortable reading speed approaching 100 words a minute. They must learn to combine words on the page with a half-dozen squiggles called punctuation into something – a voice or image in his mind – that gives back meaning.”

( Paul Kropp, 1996)

The Teaching and Learning of Phonics in EYFS

At Hampden Gurney School, we teach phonics through ‘ Read Write Inc’ and ‘ Letters and Sounds’.
We teach children to read initially by synthetic phonics approach supplemented by a variety of means as children’s skills develop. We use ‘ Letters and Sounds’ as a means of planning and assessing the children and we track their progress through the phrases using our online tracking system. Phonics is taught daily in discreet sessions through KS 1 and up to Phase 6, constantly referred to in Literacy and handwriting sessions and other subjects to fully embed the learning.

Foundation Stage

In the Foundation Stage, teachers use many different strategies to teach phonics, differentiating the learning as we do in all of our lessons. Daily phonics lessons are short and pacey using a multisensory approach that supports the learning of the phonemes and corresponding graphemes. The children then apply their learning in meaningful context through a range of carefully planned activities that are matched to their interest and abilities. In addition to this, the children are exposed to a wide range of quality texts that are readily accessible in the learning environment and our school library. They enjoy shared reading with an adult and access to the school library on a weekly basis.
Once children are confident with Phase 2, they are given a school reading book through which they apply their phonic knowledge and their growing understanding of the layout and features of written texts, as well as starting to develop basic skills and deduction and inference. Children are taught to read on a 1:1 basis by the class teacher or teaching assistant who match the book to the child’s needs and abilities. We use a range of books that support early sight recognition, blending, sentence structure and comprehension.
Children’s progress in developing and applying their phonic knowledge is carefully assessed and monitored. By the end of Foundation Stage, children are expected to achieve Phase 4.

Key Stage One

By the end of Year 1, the expectation is for children to be secure in Phase 5. In Year One, the children complete the National Phonics Screening Check – a statutory assessment that was introduced in 2012 for all Year 1 pupils. It comprises a list of 40 real words and nonsense words that assess phonics skills and knowledge learnt through Foundation and Year 1. The check is very similar to tasks that the children already complete during phonics lesson.
As soon as the teacher assesses a child to be ready, they are also introduced to guided reading in a small group with an adult. The texts used are closely linked to the phonic stage that the children are working in and the sessions also develop their ability to discuss and analyse a text, using skills such as prediction and developing a growing vocabulary.
Children who are learning to read are encouraged to read a text more than once to practise decoding skills and ensure understanding. The value of parents and other family members helping children with their reading cannot be overestimated. Children are expected to take books home regularly from the class library and school library.
Parents/carers are encouraged to take an active role in their child’s progress through regular reading with their child at home. Every child in school has a reading diary that is a two-way communication between school and families. Teachers collect these diaries to monitor progress.

Pupils’ reading progress are benchmarked by adults to ensure that books provided are pitched appropriately to their reading level. This continues in Year 2 as does the phonics teaching. Year 2 typically addressed Phase 6.

Phase and Year Group Phonic Knowledge and Skills
Phase 1 (Nursery - Reception) Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally, oral blending and segmenting.
Phase 2 (Reception) Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.
Phase 3 (Reception) The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the “ simple code”, ie one grapheme for each phoneme in the English Language.
Phase 4 (Reception) No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.
Phase 5 (Year 1) Now we move on to the “ complex code”. Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.
Phase 6 (Year 1, 2 and 3) Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.

Key Stage Two

As children progress in to Key Stage 2, they revise and consolidate the phonics learnt so far. They also continue with guided reading sessions with the aim of exposing children to a range of texts that are linked to their reading ability abut also provide a greater element of challenge and to further develop their comprehension skills in line with the expectations of the National Curriculum. Children continue to have an individual reading book, moving on to free readers when it is assessed as appropriate. In addition, the children share high quality class texts through which the full range of English reading and writing skills are taught, as well as opportunities for treading across the curriculum.
As children are learning to read, they are regularly heard in school on an individual basis by an adult for additional practise of their levelled home/school reading. Through our daily Guided Reading session we ensure that reading skills are taught and honed through our reading into writing sessions as part of our literacy sequence for the week.
In all year groups children have a whole range of abilities, and we seek to provide suitable learning opportunities for all children by matching the challenge of the task to the ability of the child. Staff have high expectations that all children can achieve to the fullest of their potential. Wherever possible, Teaching Assistants work in class, supporting specific individuals or groups of children. Where children are seen to be making less progress or achieving below the age-related expectation, focussed interventions are put in place to support them.

Writing, including Vocabulary, Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling

A variety of opportunities are provided across the curriculum for children to develop their writing skills. Literacy units are planned so that they link to learning in other areas of the curriculum, thus, providing a greater understanding and contextualised approach. All classes base their literacy sequences on high quality text that allows the children to read and write as an author does.
Children write in different exercise books for literacy and all other subjects and writing fluency is necessary to support all areas of the curriculum. Children make literacy links across the subjects which increases expectations for their writing in no0n-literacy specific lessons.
From Early Years in school, we embed the idea of the sentence and children become confident in understanding what verbs are. We then build on this knowledge in line with expectations for their year group as set out in the National Curriculum 2014.
In line with the new curriculum expectations for spelling, vocabulary, punctuation and grammar, (SPAG), children have weekly discreet SPAG lessons to practise their skills in these areas. The objectives in these lesson link into the literacy sequence for the week and are reinforced throughout other lessons.
Children are taught spelling in line with 2014 National Curriculum. Spelling lessons further embed and develop the children’s phonological awareness. In Key Stage 1, children develop their ability to spell accurately using the 44 phonic sounds. The emphasis is placed on learning how to spell and the application of this knowledge rather than being a test of memory.
From Years 1-6, children are assessed on their Year group spelling list. Alongside this, children are taught the spelling rules that they are expected to be familiar with for their age. Spellings are sent home weekly in Years 1-6 and in school are tested by way of dictation within a sentence. Records are kept of how children are progressing with their spellings and resources such as word mats and working walls are available in class to support the children in remembering them.

Speaking and Listening Skills

Children are provided with regular opportunities to develop the essential skills of speaking and listening. This is done through discussion, drama and specific listening activities in pairs, groups and as a class. Good oral work enhances pupils’ understanding of language in both oral and written forms. We particularly aim to ensure that children are learning to speak in an accurate grammatical form and we look to model this through the adults in school. We find that opportunities arise in a cross-curricular subject sense and children are able to use their skills in a transferable manner.


From the Foundation Stage, children are taught cursive letter formation and joins following the lead-in cursive style, which enables children to develop a clear style of handwriting. We believe that this gives many benefits to the children, including less frequent letter reversals; increase in phonological awareness and can also promote spelling by developing muscle memory when writing words.

For the overview of our curriculum see the subject map below:
- Literacy Curriculum Map