St. Clare's Catholic Primary School, A Voluntary Academy

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Phonics and Early Reading

Please watch the video below to understand how to support your child at home with Phonics and Early Reading. 


Through the delivery of our reading curriculum, we ensure a consistent and robust teaching and learning of early reading and phonics in FS and KS1, so that pupils are able to read with increased speed and fluency and access the wider curriculum. Children take part in a daily Phonics lesson, following the Rising Stars, Rocket Phonics programme. For children who are at the early stages of reading, there is a necessity for the books that they read to be closely matched to their developing phonics knowledge and knowledge of common exception words, so that they are able to access appropriate texts. At St Clare’s, all individual and group reading books in Reception and KS1 match the children’s phonic knowledge, ensuring all words can be decoded.

KS1 children are involved in group reading sessions, three times a week. In the spring term of Year 2, children will be introduced to whole-class guided reading, in order to prepare them for the transition into KS2.


During their time at St Clare's we want children to develop good communication skills and be able to blend and decode words easily. 

We follow the Rising Stars, Rocket Phonics programme for teaching Phonics in school.  This is a systematic synthetic phonics programme.  Children are taught to read letters or groups of letters by saying the sound(s) they represent.  Children can then start to read words by blending (synthesising) the sound together to make a word.  Children are taught to apply the skill of segmenting words into phonemes to spell and that blending and segmenting is a reversible process.  We do this through a minimum of a 30-minute teaching session per day in Reception, Years One and Two, alongside integrating phonics in cross-curricular activities throughout the day.

Rocket Phonics has a steady pace mapped out across each term and year. It teaches one letter-sound correspondence over two days. The first day focuses on blending skills and the second day focuses on segmenting skills. Reading and writing are interlinked so there will naturally be overlap, but by separating the skills and spreading them across two days the teacher has greater clarity over which skill is being taught, practised or applied. The children have more time and more opportunity to learn, practise and apply the skills using the new letter-sound correspondences before moving on. The two-day pattern is repeated twice through the week, leaving the fifth day as an opportunity for further consolidation, assessment, enrichment activities or as a focus lesson on common exception words

By following the pace of Rocket Phonics, and with regular monitoring, children are able to keep up with the demands of the extensive English alphabetic code.

Reading Practise:

Children practise early reading with fully decodable books that:

  • are matched to phonic knowledge and which do not require use of alternative strategies.
  • are matched to ‘Rocket Phonics’.  Staff allocate books according to the Rocket Phonics Phase children are working at rather than the old colour band system.
  • are decodable at the child’s current level and not mixed with non-decodable books for independent reading.
  • include a small number of ‘tricky words’ which have been taught.
  • are continued in the progressive sequence of ‘Rocket Phonics’ phases until a child can confidently decode words involving most common grapheme representations of all phonemes.

 The children will read in school  3 times per week. Your child will then bring home a different decodable book to read at home. Please read this at least 5 times a week to build up fluency. 

Assessment and Interventions:

Formative assessment occurs in daily phonics sessions and children are given appropriate challenge at the correct phonics level.  Children who are falling behind are quickly identified and interventions are put in place to ensure they catch up.

Summative assessment, using the ‘Rocket Phonics’ assessment, is used termly; this is used to inform planning and raise any concerns with senior leaders.

The lowest 20 percent of children are tracked using the same tracking grid and interventions are in place for these children.

Phonics screening practice tests occur at the end of the Autumn term in Year 1 and again at the end of Spring 1 and Spring 2.  The results of these will be discussed at Pupil Progress meetings.  Phonics screening practice test for the first 20 words should also be completed at the end of Reception.

Assessment tracking is handed on to the next teacher when a child moves year groups.

Statutory assessment:

Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics screening check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.

Keep up not catch up!

At St Clare's it is vital for all children to make progress. Any child who needs additional support has daily Keep-up interventions. These are daily for 10 minuets by a fully trained adult in order for all children to make progress. You will be informed if your child is having daily interventions and how you can help at home too!

Click the Rising Star's Rocket Phonics links to hear the correct pronunciation of the phonemes. 

What do  our children think of reading?

'The more you read, the more you learn.'

'I like finding digraph's in words.'

'Some words are tricky, we can't sound these words out'.

'I love to read with my friends'.

;'We have lots of books, I enjoy visiting the Library at school.

'I am getting better at my reading.'