Core Skills - Phonics and Reading




Why Reading? 

Reading is one of the most important skills that we teach children at school. It allows us to share the knowledge, views, experience and imagination of others. Here at Darlinghurst Academy, we aim to create confident, effective lifelong readers.


At Darlinghurst Academy we have developed our own synthetic phonics programme which follows the sound teaching sequence from letters and sounds. Children are first taught to read and write the 40+ sounds in English and subsequently apply this knowledge to matched decodable books. These books are sent home weekly to consolidate the learning. Children begin phonics lessons in Nursery and Reception and continue these lessons until they can read confidently and fluently. Some children complete our phonics programme in Year 1 and others in Year 2. In KS2, any children who need extra reading support also follow this programme using age appropriate decodable books.

Children are grouped according to their reading progress and are taught phonics, spelling, reading, writing and handwriting for one hour a day (20 to 45 minutes in Reception). In these groups every child is heard reading by an adult every day. Children are assessed every half-term to ensure they are placed in a group that maximizes their progress and extra daily one-to-one sessions are provided for children who may need a little more support.

In Reception children are taught sounds using pictures as an aid, for example we make the letter 's' into a snake, and the 'f' into the shape of a flower. These pictures help all children to read the sounds easily. Once this knowledge is secure and children are able to blend consistently and accurately, we teach children the different spellings of the same sounds, for example, they learn that the sound 'ay' is written ay, a-e and ai; the sound 'ee' is written ee, e and ea. We use phrases to help them remember each sound for example, ee, free the sheep, ea – eat the treat.

Whole class reading

Children at Darlinghurst are encouraged to develop a love of literature through exposure to a wide range of texts. We provide a print rich environment including different genres and styles which are ability appropriate. As a community of readers, we expect all teachers and children to model and communicate their love of reading.

In Years 2-6, children participate in whole class reading lessons once they can read fluently. During these lessons your child reads a high quality age appropriate text with the support of their teacher and peers. The text will be introduced by the teacher to ensure all the key vocabulary is explained. Your child will then be able to understand this new vocabulary and apply it in the correct context. The lesson will include daily partner reading to help your child improve their fluency and expression. During this time, the teacher will hear every child read. This will be followed by a 'think aloud' where their teacher will explain key parts of the text and ask questions to assess your child's comprehension. Comprehension skills are developed through pupils' experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction.

Pupils at Darlinghurst are encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world they live in, to gain knowledge, and to establish an appreciation and love of reading.  We want reading to feed our pupils' imaginations and as such books within the classroom are easily accessible and presented in an appealing way in order to encourage respect for books and support our commitment to developing a love of reading.

All children will bring home a book from within the school's reading band scheme, which is appropriate to their reading ability and age. We use a wide variety of schemes, such as Oxford Reading Tree, Songbirds and Project X, as well as 'real' books that have been evaluated and put into a 'band'. This is to ensure our children have exposure to a wide range of writing styles and different genres.