Reading and Phonics at St Benedict’s

At St Benedict’s Catholic Primary School, reading is valued and promoted to be an enjoyable activity and an essential life skill. Children are encouraged to become confident, fluent and enthusiastic readers.

Phonics teaching

EYFS and Key Stage One

As soon as children walk through the door in nursery they are immersed in an environment which concentrates upon developing children’s speaking and listening skills and prepares them for phonics teaching.

They cover seven aspects  – including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral bending and segmenting.

As a school, we follow the Letters and Sounds approach to teaching phonics and use Collins Big Cat phonics and resources to teach this. This ensures a secure start to every child’s reading journey and helps children to progress from decoding words to reading fluently for pleasure.

Children first learn their letter sounds and names then apply these to word building. We use Letters and Sounds, as the basis for our teaching of phonics. Letters and Sounds is recognised as a synthetic phonic scheme. The children will also learn a variety of other key words by sight.



Letters and Sounds have six phases:

Phase Phonic Knowledge and Skills

Phase One

(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 Two

(Reception) up to 6 weeks 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 Three

(Reception) up to 12 weeks 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.

Phase Four

(Reception) 4 to 6 weeks 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 Five

(Throughout 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 Six

(Throughout Year 2 and beyond) Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.

Phonic Reading books.

The children will read in school and bring home a reading book which is closely matched to their phonic phase.  We have a huge choice of Big Cat reading books for your child to read and enjoy which are fully decodable books, aligned to Letters and Sounds, to ensure all pupils in Reception and KS1 move from decoding words to reading fluently and for pleasure.

Year 1 Phonics Screening

In June, every child in Year 1 is required to take a ‘phonics screening check’. Those children who do not meet the expected standard, will retake the test in Year 2.

How does the check work?

  • Children read 40 words aloud with a familiar adult
  • 20 of these words are real and may be familiar, while other words are ‘nonsense’.   Here are some examples of the real and nonsense words they might read:

Glossary of terms – What do all these words mean?

  • Grapheme – The way a sound is written. e.g. ay (as in pay) and ai (as in main) are the same sound but a different grapheme.
  • Phoneme – A sound.
  • Oral blending – The adult may ‘sound out’ c-a-t for the child to hear and say the word ‘cat’.
  • Oral segmenting – The adult may ask the child to ‘sound out’ the word dog and the child would say ‘d-o-g’.

Key Stage 2

In Key Stage 2 the children continue to read and develop a love of reading. As a school we use the Accelerated reader approach which assess your child’s reading ability and ensures they are reading a book which matches their reading ability. The children  take home a levelled book from our school library and are encouraged to read regularly; choosing longer, more complex texts to read both independently and to an adult.

Every classroom has a designated reading area which the children can use to develop their love of reading. Reading areas are updated regularly and include a range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry books. In years 5 and 6, magazines and newspapers are evident in reading areas also. In addition, teacher’s regularly read to their children during story time at the end of the day.

Across all Key Stages, the children have a class novel which is read daily.

Julia Donaldson’s top reading tips.