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  • The Catholic School of Saint Gregory The Great,
  • St James Square,
  • Cheltenham,
  • Gloucestershire,
  • GL50 3QG.
  • Tel:

    01242 513659

English, Reading & Phonics

Learning to Read

Learning to read is a vital life skill that our children need to acquire at a young age – for this reason it is central to our curriculum and is a skill that children start learning as soon as they join us at school. Children progress through different reading stages and all children will progress through these stages at different rates. Sometimes children progress slowly, sometimes fast and sometimes they plateau for a short time while they consolidate their learning.  It is often helpful for children to overlearn/repeat their learning to ensure their skills are secure before moving onto next stages.  This helps them to build confidence in their abilities.  Alongside learning to read, we aim to work with parents at home to develop a real love of reading.  The children at our school are read to daily and we work with parents to develop their skills in helping their children love reading too.





Reading is not only about segmenting and blending words to actually say a word aloud.  It is also about really understanding what they have been reading about.  Sometimes, we ask children to repeat reading scheme books so that they can work on their comprehension skills rather than simply reading the words and sentences.  We also encourage children to read a wide range of books: sometimes your child will bring home reading books that are for richer reading – these are levelled books that help them broaden their exposure to different texts and genres to help with building their confidence and developing a wider vocabulary.  If your child repeats a book, please focus upon their comprehension skills.  Do this by asking questions that look for simple answers within the text and then more complicated answers which ask their opinion about something that happened in the book, the way a character may be feeling or predict what may happen next.  Without these comprehension skills, foundations to their reading ability will be missing and they will find it very difficult to move through later reading development stages inhibiting them from becoming a fluent reader.


If you have any questions about reading or if you need support in helping your child’s comprehension skills please send us an email and we will ask our Reading Lead, Mr Hollick to contact you.


Encourage our children to read

To encourage our children to read more we have introduced a raffle system where they can win book vouchers. 

How does it work?

  • Each child will receive a reading raffle book mark with the word ‘READ’ on it.
  • Each time your child reads at home they can colour in a star on their ‘READ’ raffle ticket/book mark. Only one star can be coloured in each day.
  • Once all 15 stars have been coloured in, parents initial the ticket to show they agree.
  • The children then hand the completed raffle ticket (with their full name written on the back) to their class teacher.
  • They can then start another raffle ticket. 
  • Towards the end of term we will collect up all the completed READ raffle tickets and pull a ticket from a hat in assembly.
  • The winning child will receive Waterstones Book Vouchers.
  • REMEMBER: The more tickets they have in the hat, the greater their chance of winning. 





What is Phonics?

Starting in Early Years, children are taught phonics; the journey of learning to read, write and spell. These vital skills, are the beginning of a lifelong literacy journey. Phonics, which can also be referred to as ‘Letters and Sounds’ is the process of children learning to read.

The process of learning to read and write begins from an early age, where children can learn and practise many skills. This can be done in a range of ways and settings, including home. Exposing children to conversation and books is essential.


Letters and Sounds

The systematic phonics programme called ‘Letters and Sounds’ is divided into six phases. During the programme new skills are taught, continually building on previous learning.


Phase 1

This is the beginning of the systematic learning of phonics and takes place predominately in Nursery or Pre-School.  It falls primarily within the Communication, Language and Literacy area of learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum. During this phase, children should be exposed to a language-rich environment. Activities are mainly adult led and build up to teaching children the important basic elements such as oral segmenting and blending.


Phase 2

This phase builds upon the oral blending and segmenting of the previous phase. Children must continue to practise what they have learnt. They will also then be taught the grapheme-phoneme representations (letters) for 19 letters. Additionally, they will be taught that phonemes (sounds) can be represented by more than one letter. E.g. fin, huff.

The suggested order for teaching the sounds, is as follows, with one set being taught each week:

Phase 3

The purpose of this phase is to:

  • Teach more graphemes; the remaining letters of the alphabet and some sounds of which are made up of two or three letters, known as digraphs and trigraphs. E.g. ‘ee’ as in bee.

  • Practise blending and segmenting a wider range of CVC words.

  • Read more tricky words and begin to spell them.

  • To read familiar words on sight, rather than decoding them.

The following sounds are taught:

Phase 4

The purpose of this phase is to consolidate the sounds already taught. Children are also exposed to adjacent consonants (consonant blends and consonant clusters) and multisyllabic words.


Phase 5

Typically, phase 5 is taught in Year One.

The purpose of this phase is to broaden a child’s knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and spelling. When spelling words, children will now need to choose the appropriate graphemes to represent phonemes.

Phase 6

When children enter this phase, they should know most of the common grapheme-phoneme correspondences. As a result of this, they should be able to read hundreds of words. This will be in one of three ways;

  • Reading the word on sight when they are very familiar.

  • Decoding the word quickly and/or silently.

  • Decoding the word aloud.

  • During this phase, the aim is for children to become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers.

  • Children will now be reading longer texts, more fluently and confidently.

  • There is also a focus on suffixes.


Year 1 Phonics Screening Check

Children in Year 1 throughout the country will all be taking part in a phonics screening check during the same week in June. Children in Year 2 will also take the check if they did not achieve the required result when in Year 1 or they have not taken the test before.

Headteachers should decide whether it is appropriate for each of their pupils to take the phonics screening check. The phonics screening check is designed to confirm whether individual children have learnt phonic decoding and blending skills to an appropriate standard.


What Happens During the Screening?

The test contains 40 words. Each child will sit one-to-one and read each word aloud to a teacher. The test will take approximately 10 minutes per child, although all children are different and will complete the check at their own pace. The list of words the children read is a combination of 20 real words and 20 pseudo words (nonsense words).


Pseudo Words (Nonsense Words)

The pseudo words will be shown to your child with a picture of an alien. This provides the children with a context for the pseudo word which is independent from any existing vocabulary they may have. Pseudo words are included because they will be new to all pupils; they do not favour children with a good vocabulary knowledge or visual memory of words.


Reporting to Parents

By the end of the summer term all schools must report each child’s results to their parents. They will also confirm if the child has met the standard threshold. Children who do not achieve the expected level will retake the test when they are in Year 2. 



Useful Information, Resources & Learning at Home