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Reading and Phonics

At Sparken Hill Academy we promote a whole school love of reading and provide many opportunities for children to read and listen to a range of stories and poems.




During the school day, children may read in small groups or 1-to-1 with an adult, with a peer or as a whole class. All children throughout school, enjoy a whole class 'story time' with their teacher at 3pm daily. We also give children the opportunity to listen to audio versions of their favourite books.


Whatever the reading activity, we place a strong emphasis on high quality ‘book talk’ whereby all children are able to discuss and unpick carefully chosen, high-quality texts. We expose children to a wide range of texts, styles and genres, including stories, non-fiction and poetry and both classic and contemporary texts.


We use a variety of books linked to current interests and topics to support the children’s reading development. We believe that, at all levels, good quality reading is invaluable for good quality writing and life-long learning. 


What scheme do we use?

Sparken Hill Academy follow one of the DfE's validated synthetic systematic phonics (SSP) programs called 'Bug Club' to teach phonics from phase 2 to phase 6 in Foundation 2 and Key Stage One. The Bug Club scheme is a graduated approach and introduces a new sound/rule daily to the children, following a repetitive structure, embedding reading, spelling and writing skills daily. Key Stage Two children follow the Spelling Shed scheme for phonics learning. Children in Key Stage 2 who did not pass their Y1 phonics screening check or the re-test in Y2, still receive the Spelling Shed whole class teaching during phonics time but in addition receive high quality focused phonics intervention to catch up, this takes place throughout the day.    


How do we teach phonics?

Children are taught phonics as soon as they enter Foundation Stage. Phonics is taught daily to all pupils and all children receive a whole class, age-related, phonics input. Phase 1 is taught in F1 to secure phonological awareness skills to allow for Phases 2,3 and 4 to be taught in F2. Children then move onto phase 5 in Y1 and phase 6 in Y2. Children who are working below age related expectations and require additional support to catch up, receive small group/1-to-1 targeted phonics intervention at another time during the day. A robust tracking system is used to ensure we monitor pupil progress in phonics.


Follow these links to find out further information on the teaching of phonics in Foundation Stage and Key Stage One, including the Pearson Bug Club parent guide, phoneme pronunciation videos, expectations for the year and useful resources. Here you will also find our February 2023 Phonics and Reading parent workshop video and handout. 


Phonics through the ages in FS and KS1


In F1, children begin Phase 1 phonics from their start date. Children take part in small group sessions with their key worker every day for 15 minutes. Phase 1 is taught through a range of activities to develop phonological awareness such as listening games to discriminate environmental, voice and instrumental sounds and also rhyme, alliteration and rhythm games. The children also have lots of experience with oral segmenting and blending (hearing d-o-g makes dog) throughout the day to prepare them for phase 2 learning in F2. 


In F2, children begin Phase 2 from the Autumn term, learning the links between individual letters and their sounds (phoneme-grapheme correspondence). Phase 3 is introduced in the Spring term and Phase 4 in the Summer term. F2 phonics is taught daily for 20 minutes a day. 


In Year 1 and Year 2, pupils have two daily phonics learning sessions for 20-30 minutes a day. Year 1 recap F2 learning in Autumn 1 and are then taught Phase 5 phonemes from Autumn 2 until the end of the year. Year 2 recap Y1 learning in Autumn 1 and are then taught Phase 6 from Autumn 2 until the end of the year. 


Reading at home


All children from F2 and KS1 practice and apply their phonic skills when reading decodable books from the Phonics Bug scheme. The books are individually matched to the children's letter and sound knowledge. 


Your child will bring home a Bug Club phonics reading book and reading diary in their book bag. Teachers encourage children to read with parents/carers daily. Parents are asked to write in the reading diaries a comment of how children read. We have a reading rewards scheme and children who are daily readers get the opportunity to win a prize each week!


Parents have access to 'Bug Club' on the Pearson Active Learn site:

Each child has a bookmark in the back of their reading diary with their own log in details. When logging in you will find:


-Reading books which are matched to children's phonics ability

-Phonics Games to practise grapheme-phoneme correspondence, segmenting and blending 


Log in to Active Learn here


We ask that a variety of physical/online books are read by your children, as they are both important.


Accelerated Reader 


When children are able to read fluently and independently (Y3+) they are assessed using the Star Reading system for Accelerated Reader. The assessment provides a standardised score and a reading age for the child. Teachers monitor children’s reading scores closely to ensure pupil's gain skills and understanding at a level that is right for them. Children are taught a broader range of reading skills to develop their understanding of the texts they read. Books are grouped by using our Accelerated Reader system and pupils are directed towards the appropriate ZPD code for their reading level. Once pupils have read a ZPD book, independent reading and level of understanding is confirmed through an online retrieval quiz taken on the completion of a book. Children are expected to achieve a minimum of 85% success rate over the term. The Accelerated Reader approach moves away from the traditional reading scheme to include real books by a range of popular, modern and classic authors and poets. There are also non-fiction texts, graphic novels and play scripts to name a few additional text types.


 The school also subscribes to MyON digital library, which is linked to AR and provides pupils with 'Recommended Reads' inline with their reading level.  Parents can track their child’s success by signing up for email updates.


Search for Accelerated Reader Books here

Reading Skills taught during English lessons


Throughout school, we ensure that pupils have the reading skills needed to access and understand the texts they are decoding. Through focused reading skills lessons, we implement the VIPERS skill-set. Pupils learn to use these specific skills to extend their vocabulary and understanding, infer meaning from texts, predict meaning or future outcomes from the text, use the language of explanation to show their understanding, retrieve information from a text and to summarise the main points of a text. Using these skills helps pupils to use reading throughout the wider curriculum and beyond.

Click on the document below to view the high quality topic books teachers read to their classes through English lessons and story time

Useful Resources