Reading and Phonics


At West Hove Infant School we aim to foster a love of literature and language and the confidence for children to be avid readers throughout their lives. We are a reading-rich school and quality texts are the bedrock of our practice. We want all children to develop a life-long love of reading and to be competent, confident readers who access and enjoy a diverse range of genres. Children are supported to read regularly throughout the day through all subjects and are taught not only to decode text but also to interpret and understand it.

All topics are based around quality core texts which feed into the children’s writing. In English lessons, ambitious core texts are read and analysed as a class and used as a stimulus to structure and inspire writing.

Daily guided reading sessions in all classes give children opportunities to read and learn about a wide variety of high-quality text types. Sessions focus on the teaching and learning of different reading skills and strategies, which underpin reading development. Group and independent activities focus on embedding these skills, promoting a love of ambitious vocabulary and building a bank of comprehension and inference strategies.

In our reading-rich environment, children listen to and read books every day. In year 2, whole-class Drop Everything and Read sessions are used to introduce challenging and exciting books and further enhance children’s critical thinking skills. Children in YR and Y1 similarly enjoy regular story times. Children also enjoy two story-based assemblies each week, using high quality and often thought-provoking texts which develop their empathy, thinking and inference skills further.

Our guided and home/school reading books feature a mix of phonics-based and ‘real’ books. The phonics-based books run alongside the Letters & Sound phonics programme and mirror the children’s phonics development and learning. Real books are colour-banded to enable the children to select appropriately leveled books to read at home and in school.

Every classroom has a well-stocked, inviting and cosy reading area. These contain both fiction and non-fiction texts and reflect the current topic.

Each site has a well-stocked library of categorised non-fiction books. Books are also available f or children to enjoy in other areas of the school such as our nurture and intervention rooms.  The Connaught site is in the process of setting up a lending library which the children will be able to use before school. The School Road site is currently creating a covered, outdoor ‘Reading Retreat’ book swap area for children to use at play and lunch times.

Every classroom has reading displays, which include phonics, spelling, vocabulary and reading prompts. These support, promote and enhance reading further. Such displays and those in our communal areas also celebrate our love of reading and reflect our passionate belief that reading is at the heart of our curriculum.

All children have a Reading Diary which parents/carers can complete to show that their child has read or shared a book at home. Reading benchmarks are shared and celebrated with the Heads of School. We deploy teaching support staff and parent volunteers to support with reading in school. In addition, we run an intervention programme for those children who need extra ‘catch-up’ support. This invention, Read 2 Write, closely links reading and writing and mirrors the explicit teaching of reading skills and strategies in class to support children to develop further confidence in their reading. All new Read 2 Write groups have started visiting Hove Library.

In addition to our daily reading, we take part wholeheartedly in World Book Day events, reading competitions, author visits, book sales and as many events as we can to promote a sense of wonder and delight in reading.


Phonics is a way of teaching children to read and write. It is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate sounds and understand the link between the sound (phoneme) and the way it is written (grapheme). We teach children to apply phonic knowledge as a first approach to reading.

Every classroom has a phonics/spelling display and a variety of classroom prompts to help support children with their reading and writing.

Guided reading and home-school books similarly scaffold children’s learning by being appropriately matched to their phonics skills.

At West Hove Infant School we teach phonics through high quality, systematic daily lessons with a range of opportunities for children to practise and apply their learning. We follow the Letters and Sounds programme, supplemented by Jolly phonics resources, actions and songs. Letters and Sounds is a phonics programme in which individual letters or letter sounds are ‘blended’ to form groups of letters or sounds, and those groups are then blended to form complete words.

Children are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky words’ – words with spellings that are unusual. These include the words ‘to’, ‘was’, ‘said’ and ‘the’. ‘Tricky words’ are ones that we can’t sound – so these words just need to be remembered.

Children in Year One undertake a national Phonics screening check in June. This is carried out by the child’s class teacher in a quiet and informal manner so that your child feels comfortable and relaxed. If your child does not meet the required standard the school puts into place interventions to support them at home and at school. They are then asked to re-take the Check in Year 2.

Additional phonics support is offered to selected children in all year groups. Phonics and spelling activities are sent home to consolidate children’s learning. Ideas to support children’s phonics and spelling are also an item on our monthly newsletter.

Here are some of the terms you may come across in our phonics work:

grapheme – letter or a group of letters representing one sound, e.g. sh, ch, igh, ough (as in ‘though’)

phoneme — the smallest single identifiable sound, e.g. the letters ‘sh’ represent just one sound, but ‘sp’ represents two (/s/ and /p/)

blend – to merge individual sounds together to pronounce a word, e.g. s-n-a-p, blended together, reads snap

segment  — to split up a word into its individual phonemes in order to spell it, e.g. the word ‘cat’ has three phonemes: /c/, /a/, /t/

digraph – two letters making one sound, e.g. sh, ch, th, ph.

vowel digraphs – two vowels which, together, make one sound, e.g. ai, oo, ow

split digraph – two letters, split, making one sound, e.g. a-e as in make or i-e in site

vowels – the open sounds / letters of the alphabet: a, e, i,o and u

consonants – sounds/ letters of the alphabet that are not vowels.

adjacent constants – two (or three) letters making two (or three) sounds, where those sounds are very close together