Please click here to view our recent Phonics Presentation (Sept 2023).


Phonics at Chew Stoke Church School



At Chew Stoke Church School we use Unlocking Letters and Sounds which was validated by the DfE in December 2021.


We begin teaching phonics in the first few weeks of term 1 in Reception and children make rapid progress in their reading journey. Children begin to learn the main sounds heard in the English Language and how they can be represented, as well as learning ‘Common Exception’ words for Phases 2, 3 and 4. They use these sounds to read and write simple words, captions and sentences. Children leave Reception being able to apply the phonemes taught within Phase 2, 3 and 4 (see below). 


Pupils in Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Year 1 have short, focused, daily phonics sessions using Unlocking Letters and Sounds. In Year 2, children follow the Phase 5 Mastery Unit throughout the Autumn Term, finishing at Christmas. If children entering Key Stage 2 need ongoing support with their phonics, we continue to give input that is appropriate for them.


In Year 1 through Phase 5a, b and c, they learn any alternative spellings and pronunciations for the graphemes and additional Common Exception Words. By the end of Year 1 children will have mastered using phonics to decode and blend when reading and segment when spelling. In Year 1 all children are screened using the national Phonics Screening Check.


In Year 2, phonics continues to be revisited to ensure mastery of the phonetic code and any child who does not meet age-related expectations will continue to receive support to close identified gaps. For further details please see the Unlocking Letters and Sounds progression information below.


Every child in EYFS and KS1 reads with an adult once a week (for EYFS this may include sharing picture books until children have reached Phase 2 Set 1) and the lowest 20% will be targeted for extra 1 to 1 reading.


To ensure no child is left behind at any point in the progression, children are regularly assessed and supported to keep up through bespoke 1-1 interventions. These include GPC recognition and blending and segmenting interventions. The lowest attaining 20% of pupils are closely monitored to ensure these interventions have an impact.







Reading at Chew Stoke Church School




At Chew Stoke Church School, we recognise that reading is an essential life skill and we aim to foster in all our pupils a lifelong love of reading.

Reading in highly valued in our school and we believe that all children can be inspired by books. We carefully choose a wide range of texts and authors for our classes that will stimulate and enthuse learners, taking into account their individual needs, interests and experiences. We give the children in our school both time and opportunity to enjoy reading and to participate in discussions about books, ensuring that these opportunities are accessible to all.

Reading underpins our entire curriculum and we are committed to developing the skills of our pupils so that they become competent, fluent readers, laying the foundations for their future learning as they move on to secondary school and into the wider world.

 At Chew Stoke Church School we promote a 'phonics first' approach and in both our guided reading sessions at school and in the books children take home, texts are very closely matched to a child's current phonics knowledge so that every child can experience real

success in their reading. In these crucial early stages of reading we primarily use books from Ransom Reading Stars Phonics to ensure complete fidelity to the Unlocking Letters and Sounds progression we follow. Once children progress beyond decodable texts, they move onto our book scheme so that they can continue to progress in their decoding, fluency and comprehension skills to become avid, expert readers.


 Implementation: Early Reading in EYFS / Key Stage 1


Guided Reading

 Hedgehog Class:

From January, once children have reached Phase 3, they take part in weekly Guided Reading sessions, using Reading Stars Phonics Readers that are matched to their phonic assessments.


Owl and Kingfisher Classes:

Guided Reading takes place weekly, in small groups, following Unlocking Letters and Sounds planning. The level of book is dictated by ongoing ULS assessments, whereby children are reading books with 90% accuracy. 

Additional daily reading and interventions take place where necessary, targeting the lowest 20% of readers.

Once children have moved on from the Unlocking Letters and Sounds programme, they continue to take part in focussed Guided Reading sessions, as a whole class or in small groups, with their class teacher.


Parents and Carers as Partners:

Parents and carers are vital in helping to build confident and excited young readers! Our phonics teaching is explained at the induction meeting held by Miss Hennessy (our EYFS teacher) for all Hedgehog parents and carers during Term 1. Parents and carers are welcome and encouraged to speak to class teachers if they have further questions about phonics at our school or would like further ideas about how to support their children.


Book Bags and the Two-Book System:

  • We encourage children in EYFS and KS1 to be reading at home for 10 minutes a day.
  • We use a two-book system where each child will have one fully decodable book and one book for pleasure in their book bag. The decodable books are changed twice a week, once they have been read three times. The books for pleasure can be changed by the children as often as they choose.
  • The decodable book is for reading again and again – children will first be using and building their decoding skills and confidence, then developing their comprehension, fluency and expression (prosody).
  • Each child has a Reading Record which should be signed by an adult at least 3 times for each decodable book that is sent home.
  • The sharing book is chosen by each child for them to read and enjoy together with their parents and carers.
  • Where children have moved off the scheme books, we call this ‘free reading’. We encourage our ‘free readers’ to choose their own reading materials from the wide range of reading books we have in school, either from their class Book Corners or from our school library.


Daily Story Time:

In Hedgehog, Owl and Kingfisher classes we have shared story time at the end of the day. During this session, we read to children to develop a love of reading and to expose the children to high quality literature and a wealth of ambitious vocabulary. We ensure that our reading sessions incorporate a wide range of texts, including fiction, non-fiction, songs and poetry, as well as a range of different genres.



Our school library is open during lunchtimes for children to take out and return books or to browse for new favourites! Each class also has a dedicated library time during the week which they can use for further visits to the library.



 Implementation: Reading in Key Stage 2


Developing reading skills:

If children entering Key Stage Two need ongoing support with their phonics, we continue to provide targeted and age-appropriate interventions, using Unlocking Letters and Sounds.


Children have independent reading sessions at least three times a week. These give plenty of opportunities for children to build their confidence and enjoyment of books, which can be borrowed from class Books Corners, our school library or brought in from home.


Reading comprehension skills are taught and developed as part of our English lessons. Pupils are taught to retrieve, infer, predict, summarise, analyse and evaluate texts.


Reading skills are further developed in KS2 through a wide range of activities. These may include the following:

  • reading with an adult,
  • reading in partners, either within class or with other classes,
  • reading aloud in class,
  • completing book reviews,
  • discreet teaching of ‘comprehension’ skills: looking for information in a text, inferring meaning, providing evidence for answers etc,
  • using whole texts or text extracts as a stimulus for writing,
  • scrutinising texts to support or develop learning in punctuation and grammar,
  • using texts as part of whole class teaching in topic, science and other foundation subjects,
  • 1 to 1 reading with coaches from the Bristol Sport Foundation,
  • reading ‘Buddies’ which may be arranged between different classes during the year.


We know how valuable it is to appreciate the importance of reading in different contexts. Indirect teaching of reading skills also happen in all our subject areas as well as during assemblies, circle times or when preparing for a performance. It is all valued as part of the children’s learning!


Guided Reading:

Guided Reading takes place each week during an English lesson. In these sessions, children will develop their reading through a variety of activities, including vocabulary building, text comprehension and inference skills.


Guided Reading may be done as a whole class, using differentiated questions about the same text, or in groups, where children will be grouped with others who have a similar reading level. 


Reading at home:

Children are encouraged to read at home every day. Giving time, space and encouragement for reading at home is the best way for parents and carers to help to increase a child’s fluency and confidence. As they get older, this will also help them to develop their questioning skills, inference and deeper understanding of texts. 


In Lower Key Stage 2, children have a Reading Record that should be signed by an adult at least 4 times a week to show that children are reading regularly. More confident children do not need to read aloud every time, but parents/carers are encouraged to talk to them about their books and ask them questions to promote engagement and to support their comprehension skills.


In Upper Key Stage 2, children complete a Book Review when they finish a book. This encourages them to think about different aspects of the books that they read and helps to develop their language and thinking about their likes, dislikes and interests.


Daily Story Time:

In Woodpecker, Fox and Badger Classes, every class has a shared story time at the end of every afternoon. Just as with our younger children, we ensure that we continue to expose the children to a wide range of high quality texts, further building their vocabulary and ideas.



Our school library is open during lunchtimes for children to take out and return books or to browse for new favourites! Each class also has a dedicated library time during the week which they can use for further visits to the library.



At Chew Stoke Church School, we aim for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. Using Unlocking Letters and Sounds, children’s progress in reviewed on a daily basis, allowing immediate support to be put in place where needed and ensuring that children can ‘Keep Up’ not ‘Catch Up’. Children complete the Phonics Screening test towards the end of Year 1 and by the time they finish the ULS programme, children should be able to decode fluently and accurately, allowing them to access a greater range of texts with growing independence.

 As children progress through the school, they focus on developing their fluency and comprehension skills. Teachers use formative assessment from guided reading and reading comprehension lessons to identify areas of need and to inform and adapt future planning. Children complete reading comprehension papers each term, which contribute to teachers’ assessment of their reading levels for our school tracking system. Attainment in reading is also measured using the statutory assessments at the end of Key Stage One and Two. These results are measured against the reading attainment of children nationally.

 Most importantly, we know that the positive impact of excellent reading skills will be felt across all curriculum areas and that an enjoyment of reading goes far beyond the classroom. As such, we aim to develop confidence, fluency, curiosity and a lifelong love of reading that will enhance the learning and the lives of all pupils at Chew Stoke Church School.


Reading Progression


Help for parents and carers!


Our school website is a good place to start for any support you need with the teaching of children’s phonics. Here you will find:


  • Handwriting patters
  • Sounds with actions
  • Parent/carer information evening slides


Finding new books for children can be challenging, especially if you feel that they may be ready to move onto something new. Making time to visit a library or a bookshop is great as your child might well pick up a book by a new author or on a topic that you wouldn’t think to search for online! However, you might also want some ideas yourself that will help you find books that will excite and engage your child. Here are some websites that could help you with book and author suggestions:


  • The Book Trust gives recommendations by age group, with lists for 0 to 5-year-olds, 6 to 8-year-olds and 9 to 11-year-olds.


  • The School Reading List website has suggested reading lists by year group – these are kept up-to-date and include a brief synopsis of each book, too!


  • Love Reading 4 Schools has tabs at the top of the page which you can use to browse reading lists by age or by topic.


Suggestions for books categorised by year groups are as follows:-


Year 1:

Year 2:

Year 3:

Year 4:

Year 5:

Year 6:

Love of English

We include curriculum enrichment activities throughout the school year, from author visits to workshops and theatre trips.

Our enthusiasm for all things book-ish can be seen in the national celebration days that we take part in. These often include a fancy dress theme and involve as many cross-curricular links as we can manage! 



Keep an eye out for announcements about these on the website and in our school newsletters.