Colley Lane Primary Academy, Colley Lane, Halesowen, B63 2TN
Part of Windsor Academy Trust
reading and phonics at colley lane primary academy

Reading and Phonics

Reading at CLPA

At Colley Lane Primary Academy (CLPA), we want all children to be confident readers who enjoy reading because we believe ‘A child who reads is an adult that thinks’.

The CLPA reading curriculum is a holistic, whole school approach. Its purpose is to ensure that pupils can read efficiently, access ambitious texts and develop a love of reading. We approach reading in a variety of ways across the school, using 1-to-1 reading, shared reading sessions, Whole Class Reading (WCR) sessions and the Accelerated Reader Programme, as well as our formal domain/comprehension lessons. In Whole Class Reading sessions, we encourage language-rich discussions about texts and explore the themes and conventions of texts. Children are also taught specific reading domain skills in two reading domain/comprehension sessions each week. A range of genres are used across the term and we teach children how to answer reading questions efficiently and effectively.

In the Early Years and KS1, a phonics into reading approach is used where children are taught to apply their phonics skills to enable them to become fluent readers. We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised approach to phonics which is detailed below. In Year 2, when children have completed the Little Wandle phonics program and are secure, fluent readers they then move from the phonics books to Accelerated Reader books. If there are children in KS1 who are ready to read at a more independent level, they should be progressed to Accelerated Reader.

In KS2, the Accelerated Reader (AR) Programme is used. Under this programme, children are empowered to select books suited to their level and interest in reading which is registered under the AR scheme. There are over 38,000 titles in the AR scheme. After reading an AR book from our library, children then complete an associated book quiz which is designed to improve their comprehension skills.  You can find out more about our Accelerated Reader Programme on our English subject page

Pupils are also invited to access a range of free choice reading books too: fiction, non fiction, newspapers, magazines, journals, comics and graphic novels.

Phonics at CLPA

Our approach to Phonics

 At Colley Lane Primary Academy, we use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP).

Through the programme, children learn that the letters of the alphabet represent different sounds (phonemes), that some letters combine to make different sounds, and that they are put together to make words. The process by which children learn sounds and the subsequent letter/s (grapheme) they represent is called grapheme to phoneme correspondence (GPC).

The programme is broken down into phases. Phase 2, 3 and 4 are taught in Reception and Phase 5 is taught in Year 1. Each phase introduces new sounds (phonemes) and tricky words (these are words which follow a complex spelling pattern and are non-phonetic). All phases build on the learning in previous phases.

We lay the foundations for Phonics in Nursery and begin teaching to the programme in the Reception year, ensuring all children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code to read and spell as they move through the school.

We teach daily Phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1 which encompass reviewing sounds (phonemes) we have learnt, learning new sounds (phonemes), oral blending, blending words for reading, segmenting words for writing, and reading and writing tricky words. By Year 2, most children will be secure with their Phonics learning, with the focus shifting to supporting children to become more fluent readers and more accurate spellers. Children who still need support with their Phonics learning in Year 2 and beyond, take part in regular ‘keep up’ support sessions.

Children’s progress in Phonics is tracked through regular assessments. These assessments enable every teacher to keep track of the children who may need extra support with their phonic knowledge. This support is organised in small groups or 1:1 sessions which take place in addition to the daily Phonics lesson.

When children have acquired good phonic knowledge, they will be given a reading book matched to their knowledge. This is a time for children to share their success at home and to begin their journey to becoming fluent readers.

Learning to read with Phonics

There are many aspects within the teaching of Phonics which help children to become confident and fluent readers. The Little Wandle website for parents contains a range of videos on different aspects of Phonics teaching. The videos cover the following:

Sound Pronunciation:

It is vital that children pronounce sounds (phonemes) clearly and distinctly. This is called using pure sounds. This means we do not add an additional ‘uh’ to the end of a sound. Children who use pure sounds will find it much easier to sound out and blend to read a word correctly. Watch the videos to see how sounds across Phases 2, 3 and 5 are taught in Reception and Year 1 and within catch-up sessions. 


This is the process by which children begin to read words. They match the correct sounds (phonemes) to each letter (grapheme) and blend the sounds together to read the word. 

Tricky Words:

Tricky words are words which have complex spelling patterns and are non-phonetic. This means they cannot be read using letter-sound correspondence that children have learnt. Each Phonics teaching Phase has its own set of Tricky Words.  

Alien Words:

Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics Screening Check which aims to test children’s word reading ability. During the Phonics Screening check, children are asked to use their phonics to read (decode) 40 words. Most of these words are real words, but others are pseudo-words, which are made up. These words are identified with an image of an alien and as a result are referred to as Alien Words.  

Nursery - Setting the foundations for Phonics

We lay the foundations for Phonics in Nursery which ensures all children are well prepared to begin the early stages of Phonics learning when they start Reception. In Nursery, we provide children with a communication and language-rich provision which focuses on:

  • Sharing high-quality stories and poems - Children benefit from daily sharing of high-quality stories and poems from a young age. Studies have shown that as a result of this, children learn language faster, enter school with a larger vocabulary and become more successful readers. In Nursery, children are read to daily through story time sessions, are exposed to new vocabulary in our daily Whole Class Reading sessions, and have access to quality books in all areas of our child-initiated provision. 
  • Sharing a range of nursery rhymes - Singing a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes occurs daily in Nursery. Children experience a rich repertoire of rhymes, which include action rhymes where children are encouraged to add claps, knee pats or foot stamps when singing. Regular singing of nursery rhymes is vitally important for children to begin to understand new language and to understand sounds in words through rhyme and rhythm. 
  • Immersing children in quality interactions - One of the strategies used to expose our Nursery children to rich and varied language is through interactions with adults. When interacting with children, adults regularly expand on children’s responses and ask questions to motivate turn-taking in conversation. The use of open-ended questions (how and why questions) result in longer multi-word responses from children and consolidation of knowledge through explanation. Adults also regularly model new vocabulary which helps children build their vocabulary knowledge and understanding.
  • Oral blending - This is the process of breaking a word down into its individual sounds, saying the sounds out loud and blending them together to say the word. For example, we can say the word ‘dog’ by first saying the individual sounds, d-o-g and then pushing the sounds together to say the word ‘dog’. In Nursery, children are exposed to oral blending activities daily through games such as ‘Can you touch your’, and ‘What's in the Box?’.

Phonics in Reception and Year 1

 The teaching of Phonics begins in the Autumn term. In Reception, this starts with children learning simple sounds which gradually build in complexity as they move through the Phases and into Year 1. All the sounds learnt are practised in words, sentences and eventually in fully decodable phonics books. Children also learn a range of tricky words each term. Children review and revise sounds, words and tricky words daily, weekly and across terms and years, in order to move this knowledge into their long term memory.  

Click on the documents to view a detailed breakdown of the sounds and tricky words taught in Reception and Year 1.

Phonics Screening Check

The Phonics Screening Check is a national test for Year 1 children which takes place in the Summer Term. The check tests children's skills at word reading through decoding (each word is broken down into its individual sounds for reading). Children will read 40 words with results shared with parents at the end of the academic year. Children who do not pass the check in Year 1 will retake the check in Year 2.

Reading in EYFS and KS1

Regular reading both at school and at home is vital for children to be able to apply their phonic knowledge and develop fluency in their reading. Repeated reading of the texts also helps children with their sight recall of words.

Reading at School

At Colley Lane, children take part in weekly reading sessions. These sessions focus on decoding and comprehension. In our decoding sessions, children use their Phonics knowledge to read books which are matched to their Phonic ability. In our comprehension sessions, children read the same book and engage in conversations about what they have read, as well as exploring reading with expression.

Any pupils who are reading Accelerated Reader books, have one group session focusing on fluency and comprehension and a second session where they read their Accelerated Reading book 1:1 with an adult, again focusing on their understanding and fluency.

Reading at Home

At Colley Lane we use the Big Cat Collins online reading portal and the Big Cat, Little Wandle reading books. Children who are taught Phonics from Reception onwards are allocated their own account (on the online portal) to which books are added. Children read the same book in their weekly reading sessions which helps them to develop reading fluency and store words in their long term memory. Any pupils who are reading Accelerated Reader books, have one group session focusing on fluency and comprehension and a second session where they read their Accelerated Reading book 1:1 with an adult, again focusing on their understanding and fluency. When the book has been read at home, parents are encouraged to add a comment in their child’s Reading Record.

Sharing book

This book is chosen by children and is for family members to read at home. The sharing book is important in developing a love of stories and promoting reading for pleasure. While children are not expected to read this book, they can be encouraged to predict what might happen next, discuss the pictures, and share their thoughts on the story at the end.

Home Reading KS2

In Key Stage 2, Accelerated Reader is used to assess and diagnose pupil ZPD levels so that they can be assigned reading material appropriate for their ability. Year 3 pupils will either bring home Accelerated Reader books or phonics books, if they are continuing on a phonic programme. All KS2 pupils are also given the opportunity to take a free choice book home as well. 

In years 4-6, pupils will also have a mixture of free read choices and Accelerated Reader books as their home reads. Boom Reader is the digital reading record platform that pupils and parents are encouraged to use to record their reading.

For more information on Phonics teaching at Colley Lane Primary Academy please speak to your child’s teacher.

You can find out more about our approach to reading on our English subject page.