Parkgate Infants & Nursery School

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Reading is an essential life skill and the key to academic success. At Parkgate Infants and Nursery school it is our aim that every child, regardless of their background or starting point, leaves our school with the skills to confidently decode text using their phonic knowledge and the ability to read with fluency, expression and understanding. Above all we aim to develop in every child a life-long love of books and reading.

Books and reading are at the heart of our curriculum and the teaching of reading is prioritized across the school. Through our teaching of phonics and early reading, as well as throughout our wider curriculum, we aim to:

  • develop children’s secure phonic knowledge to enable to them to blend and read with increasing accuracy and fluency
  • promote reading for pleasure
  • broaden children’s vocabulary
  • develop comprehension skills, in both listening and reading

Systematic Synthetic Phonics

We use the Twinkl DfE validated systematic synthetic phonics programme to teach phonics across the school. This is organized into 6 levels, starting with phase 1 in nursery. Children in our nursery learn pre-reading skills throughout the year. From the start of their time in reception, children receive multi-sensory, interactive daily phonics lessons. Teachers receive ongoing training and support to teach lessons which are fast-paced and engaging ensuring every child makes good progress. Each child’s progress is carefully tracked and additional support is provided to help them keep up or rapidly catch up where needed. 

Workshops are provided for parents to help you understand what your child is learning and how you can support them at home.

Level 1 (Nursery onwards)

This important phase develops children’s speaking and listening skills in preparation for learning to read with phonics. They sing songs and nursery rhymes, listen to speech sounds and sounds in the environment and learn to use sound talk to orally blend and segment words into their individual sounds.   Level 1 learning and practice continues throughout the later levels.

How can I help my child?

  • Provide lots of opportunities for your child to choose from and look at a range of books and read to them often.
  • Sing nursery rhymes and action songs e.g. Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.
  • Go on sound hunts, looking for items that start with the same sound.
  • Play games which involve listening to sounds such as I spy, rhyming games, or make up funny sentences using alliteration (where every word starts with the same sound) such as ‘Silly Sam sat on a smelly sausage!’
  • Play ‘Robot talking’ with your child, breaking up words into sounds – I can see a c/a/t – a cat; it is time for b/e/d – bed.

Level 2- 4 (Reception)

From phase 2 onwards children begin to learn letter-sound correspondences and to blend and segment these to read and write words.

During phases 2-4 children will learn:

  • How to represent each of the 42 sounds by a letter or sequence of letters.
  • How to blend sounds together for reading and how to segment (break up into sounds) words for spelling.
  • To use their developing phonics knowledge for reading and writing activities and in their independent play.
  • To read and spell the common exception or ‘tricky’ words – words which cannot be fully decoded at their current phonic level but which are important to ensure they can access a wide range of texts.


 Level 2

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.

 Level 3

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”, i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.

Level 4

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 and practise reading longer words with 2 or more syllables.

 How can I help my child?

  • Support your child to practice recognising and writing the letter sounds as they are taught in school.
  • Use magnetic letters to practice making and reading words.
  • Sing the alphabet song together to learn letter names as well as sounds.
  • Encourage them to use phonics as the main strategy for reading or writing unknown words.
  • Listen to your child read their school reading books and other books every day.
  • Read lots of stories to your child.

Level 5 (Year 1)

In phase 5 children will learn new graphemes and alternative pronunciations for these and graphemes they already know. They become quicker at recognising graphemes of more than one letter in words and at blending the phonemes they represent. They learn to choose the appropriate graphemes (letter sequences) to represent sounds when spelling and begin to build word-specific knowledge of the spellings of words.

How can I help my child?

  • Continue to listen to your child read every day and share stories together.
  • Help your child to learn the new sounds as they are introduced in school.
  • Encourage your child to read familiar words automatically, without sounding out, using phonics to sound out and decode new and unfamiliar words.

Level 6 (Year 2)

During this phase, children become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers. They learn to apply an increasing range of spelling rules and exceptions.

How can I help my child?

  • Encourage your child to read widely and frequently and continue to listen to them read daily.
  • Help them to use their phonics to sound out and spell words, encouraging them to try different ways to see which ‘looks’ right or which is the most likely spelling.
  • Support your child to practice the spellings that are sent home each week. Encourage them to write sentences containing their spelling words to practice them in context.

Year 1 phonics screening check

In the summer term of year 1, all children are assessed using the statutory Phonics Screening Check. This is a short, teacher-led assessment to ensure that children are making sufficient progress in the phonics skills to read words and are on track to become fluent readers who can enjoy reading for pleasure and for learning. Pupils who do not reach the required standard will receive additional support to rapidly catch-up in year 2 and will re-take the screening check in the summer term of Year 2.

Year 1 parents have the opportunity to attend an information session to find out more about what the check involves and how they can support their child.

Independent reading

As soon as a child is able to blend and read simple words they take home practice books which are carefully selected to match the sounds they have learnt. Children bring home 2 reading books every week to practise their reading and develop fluency and confidence. Our home reading books are organized using the ‘book bands’ system and have been carefully selected to closely match the progression in our phonics scheme. The books that go home should be at a practice level which children can read relatively fluently.. We encourage children to read every day with an adult at home.  Children also take home a reading diary for you to sign each time you hear your child read.

Guided reading

Guided reading happens every morning for children in Reception and Key Stage 1.  The teacher works with a small group of children who are all reading at the same book band level. This is at a teaching level just above that which is taken home for independent reading. The teaching focuses on decoding and comprehension skills needed for children to develop into confident, fluent readers through a wide range of high-quality fiction and non-fiction texts.

Shared reading

Shared reading takes place throughout the school as part of Quality First Teaching in the daily English lessons and other curriculum lesson. The teacher models reading skills by sharing high-quality texts with the class. This includes ‘thinking out loud’ as a reader, talking children through the processes we use as readers to decode and interpret a text.  In English, texts are usually read several times over the course of the week allowing children to become familiar with the text and giving them the opportunity to join in with familiar part of the story.

Reading for pleasure

Our library bus and class reading corners are stocked with an attractive and inviting range of fiction and non-fiction to appeal to every age range and reading choice. We are fortunate to have a wonderful librarian who keeps these book stocks updated with new and relevant texts. This ensures our children are able to make their own reading choices from a diverse selection of new and classic texts, building their cultural capital and immersing them in a rich and wonderful world of literature.

Story time is an important part of the school day in every class and teachers select stories to engage and inspire children, expanding their vocabulary and sharing with them their own love of books and reading.

We have a weekly lunchtime book club, where children have the opportunity to select and discuss books on a range of weekly themes. The children also take part in voting for national book awards such as the Lollies (Laugh Out Loud Book Awards).

As a school we celebrate reading together throughout the year through events such as our annual book week and World Book Day, shared whole-school book theme weeks, author visits and the Summer Reading Challenge.