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English: Phonics & Reading

Enabling a child to be a fluent confident reader, who can access knowledge and enjoyment from words, is a prime aim.

Here at Hillcrest we have an excellent team of teachers, teaching assistants and volunteers who all contribute to making sure that all pupils are successful in the winding pathway to becoming a fluent reader.

Hillcrest's 5 Principles of Phonics

At Hillcrest, each subject team has created 5 key principles, outlining what makes up quality teaching in each subject:

1. Resources used effectively during the lesson. 

2. Planning grids and templates are followed. 

3. Key mantras and actions used, such as: copy me  

4. Enthusiastic delivery. 

5. Responding to errors. 

INTENT Statement for Phonics and Reading

Enabling a child to be a fluent confident reader, who can access knowledge and enjoyment from words, is a prime aim. Through the study of reading at Hillcrest Primary School, pupils become enthusiastic and curious readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as non-fiction and media texts. Our reading curriculum ensures that pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. It is also adaptable, flexible and meets the needs of all our learners. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. 

Our vision is that the children of Hillcrest Primary School leave us as well-rounded, coordinated readers where they are able to effectively use the English language to facilitate their future learning and communication.  

Through our reading curriculum we aim for our learners to: 

  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding; 

  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information; 

  • acquire a wide, creative vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language; 

  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage. 

Here at Hillcrest, we have an excellent team of teachers, teaching assistants and volunteers, who all contribute to making sure that all pupils are successful in the winding pathway to becoming a fluent reader. 

IMPLEMENTATION Statement for Phonics and Reading

Phonics Journey:

Teaching staff are trained in the approaches and practices of Hillcrest Primary School and their teaching enables all learners to make good or better progress.  We provide a rich and varied curriculum that stimulates and interests all pupils and enables them to apply their reading skills in a wide variety of contexts.  Reading is modelled by teachers, and pupils regularly participate in individual, small group or whole class reading activities.  Pupils are taught to be co-ordinated, using the full range of reading strategies including: 

  • Phonic knowledge and fast word recognition (visual information) 
  • Grammatical knowledge (structural information) 
  • Meaning knowledge (contextual information) 

As of September 2022, the 'Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised' programme of study is used to teach daily phonics in both Reception and KS1 and discrete reading sessions are taught weekly in KS2, based on the TLC text.  

Additional support is provided to students through book talks, 1:1 reading, ‘keep up’ and ‘catch up’ programmes, and guided reading. 

Guided Reading sessions are organised as a carousel of activities including reading for pleasure, follow-up activities with a reading focus and a variety of comprehension activities. 

During shared and independent reading, children are gradually empowered to take responsibility to self-assess, monitor their own reading and extend independent problem-solving skills, being curious about things they have read. 

The TLC reading spine ensures that all pupils read widely and deeply, a range of genres and have a suitable age-related technical vocabulary through which to understand and discuss their reading. 

Observations of children's reading strategies, progress and next steps will be recorded on individual record sheets, updated and kept in the class reading folder. 

Home school communication books are provided to every child and completed each time they read with an adult to inform parents. Parents are also positively encouraged to communicate about their child's reading via the home/school communication book. 

Each class has a timetabled session during which they can visit the school library to independently select books as well as learn about library organisation. 

Reading Journey: 

Word Reading – To Read Words Accurately 

This concept involves both the confidence of working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the fluent recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. 

Comprehension – To Understand Texts 

This concept involves drawing linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills develop 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. Reading widely often increases pupils’ vocabulary as they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech, enabling them to be creative in their word choices.  

Reading Diet - Establishing a good reading habit 

This concept involves pupils to be encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction, to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading and to gain knowledge across the curriculum. 

IMPACT Statement for Phonics and Reading

If successful, learners will be impacted by being able to read age related texts with confidence and fluency and develop a good understanding of what they have read. They will develop a good reading habit and be curious about words and their meanings, building upon an extensive personal vocabulary.  

At Hillcrest Primary School, the impact for the learners in reading will be evidenced via pupil voice showing co-ordinated readers, who are able to talk about what they have read, communicating with subject specific vocabulary, knowing how to improve. They are able to comment on their own preferences for authors and/ or genres. Pupil voice also demonstrates that pupils are enthusiastic about reading and understand how it helps them to develop their own powers of creativity, imagination, critical awareness and personal responses to a range of high-quality texts. 

The children begin to learn the mechanics of reading as soon as they enter school in reception.  Phonics is taught rigorously to aid word building skills.  In addition, children are taught to use different strategies to cope with the anomalies of the English language, so they can be adept in spelling and using correct grammar.  All children are given regular opportunities to read as well as to listen to adults sharing texts with them.  Browsing books in odd moments is the norm.

Little Wandle Letters & Sounds Revised Synthetic Phonics Programme

Hillcrest children enjoy the benefit of learning to read by following the Little Wandle Letters & Sounds Revised Synthetic Phonics programme (SSP).

This programme delivers whole class teaching in EYFS and Key Stage 1 in addition to "catch-up" style interventions for those needing a little extra help.  Children further up the school who need a little boost also benefit from this programme.

Reading Schemes

Primarily, we utilise Collins BIG CAT Phonics for Letters & Sounds fully decodable books to develop children's learning in Reading, which is fully supported by our Phonics programme.  A selection of other books (validated by Little Wandle) supplement this scheme to provide a wide reading diet.

 Once children have completed the Little Wandle phonics scheme, a number of other reading schemes provide a breadth of fiction and non-fiction texts; a variety of text types; a wide spectrum of dynamic characters- a really wide reading diet! To supplement this systematic reading progression, pupils are encouraged to enjoy books from the school and class libraries simply to read for pleasure.

Here at Hillcrest we enjoy the following reading schemes: Rigby, Story World and Alphakids.  As students progress further into Key Stage 2, a wide range of books, including best-selling authors and classics, have been assessed under the Bookband classification system to ensure progression continues and pushes learning further.

We value the part Parents and Carers play in this learning process.  Children take home reading texts every day to share with people at home.  We welcome comments in the ‘Communication Books’ so that there is liaison and understanding about the progress the child is making.

For parents wanting guidance and ideas on how to support their child with their early reading, can visit the Parent section of the Little Wandle website by clicking here.

A further guide to Little Wandle Phonics can be found in our Parents section.

What do our parents and carers say about early reading at Hillcrest?

What do our parents and carers say about our Reading Cafés at Hillcrest?

We have regular assessment of progress and intervention strategies to support or reinforce learning.

Reading is the gateway to everything – we take pride in helping your child to succeed.


The above images remain the property of Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised.

Year Group Overviews for Reading (Years 2 to 6)        



                                             Year 2                                                 Year 3



               Year 4                                                Year 5                                               Year 6