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English - Reading and Phonics


At Priestley, we teach phonics and early reading skills using the Letters and Sounds approach supported by Phonics Bug which introduces digraphs, long vowel phonemes and word recognition.  These approaches help our children to become effective readers using an interactive and kinaesthetic approach. This is referred to as Synthetic Phonics. Synthetic phonics is the breaking down of words into their separate sound components known as phonemes.

When we are teaching, we discuss elements such as:

A phoneme which is the smallest unit of sound in speech. 

For example:

the word ‘hat’ has 3 phonemes – ‘h’ ‘a’ and ‘t’.

A grapheme which is the letter/ letters that represent a phoneme. English has a complex written code and in our code a grapheme can be 1, 2,3 or 4 letters.

For example:

1 letter grapheme – m  a  t     (m)

2 letter grapheme – sh  i  p    (sh)

3 letter grapheme – n  igh  t     (igh)

4 letter grapheme – eigh  t     (eigh)

 A digraph is a 2 letter grapheme (the clue is in ‘di’) e.g. ‘ch’ in  ‘chip’

A trigraph is a 3 letter grapheme (the clue is in ‘tri’) e.g. ‘igh’ in ‘high’

Blending is the process of pushing sounds together in a word. Children are taught to sound out words and then push the sounds together into a recognisable word.

Segmenting is the process of separating sounds in words. Children are taught to listen and isolate sounds in words.  Then they are taught to represent those sounds in letters.  This is the process of spelling.

Some words in the English language cannot be broken down into separate phonemes. These words are known as tricky words and we teach the children to be able to read and know the whole word, for example, ‘said’ or ‘what’.

There are 6 phases within Letters & Sounds and most children will complete Phase 6 by the end of Year 2, however this can continue into Year 3 if required.

To help parents to support their children at home it is also vital that the correct pronunciation is used for each phoneme. The video below will help you in supporting your child’s correct sound pronunciation.

 These websites are helpful to support phonics:


For a snapshot guide as to how we teach phonics at Priestley click here

What is Phonics – click here

The Power of Reading

We whole heartedly believe that:

  • Creating a love of reading in children is potentially one of the most powerful ways of improving academic chances.

  • There can be few better ways to improve children’s chances in school, or beyond in the wider world than to enable them to become truly independent readers.


Our Aims for Reading at our school and beyond are …….


  • Lifelong love of reading, whether for learning or leisure.

  • Skills to access any materials throughout school and beyond

  • Desire to use texts to discover more.

  • Encourage to look beyond the text, see text as a tool, use text as a springboard for their own writing.

  • Enjoy reading.

  • Read challenging materials.


Parents Information about reading

Reading Schemes

At Priestley Primary School, we have a wide range of reading scheme books such as Bug Club, Oxford Reading Tree, Collins Big Cat,  Songbirds and  Lift Off, Rocket Phonics and Galaxy to  support the early development of reading. All our early reading books are colour banded.

Your child will be given a colour band to choose their home reading book from which will help to ensure that the book they select is at about the right reading level for them. Home reading books are also book banded even at an independent level so reading can be practised at home with confidence.

Many books within the early book bands can be decoded using phonics skills and knowledge.

To see more information Book Band Guide to Parents click here



Reading for Pleasure

We encourage pupils to develop a love of reading.  All classrooms have attractive reading spaces with a range of quality texts and Key Stage 2 children also have access to a library. Teachers read stories for enjoyment and we regularly hold whole school reading events such as reading World Book Day  and Roald Dahl day.

We have a Book Fair visit giving all children the opportunity to select and buy their own books. We encourage our children to participate in the Library’s Summer Reading Challenge. We also organise a visiting author each year to talk to the children about the reading and writing process.

Our Reading and Writing approaches encourage our children to read for pleasure and understand to succeed in writing you need to read, read, read!

Please click on your child's year group to see a recommended book list:


Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Year 6

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