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Overview of Reading at Weatherfield Academy

In Autumn 1, all students across the Academy are baselined building on the well-resourced Letters and Sounds* phonics scheme. In addition to phonics, pupils are also baselined in other literacy areas and across the range of domains, which gives a more holistic view of pupils' skills levels, their understanding and the areas of focus for teaching.


As well as the established systems in place, we are continually forward-thinking, ensuring that we are up-to-date with subject developments. For example, we currently use Letters and Sounds for the teaching of phonics but we will switch to Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS); a phonics programme that was validated by the Department for Education in 2021.


Katie Press and Tara Dodson developed ELS over a number of years through their experience in teaching early reading and their work at the KST English Hub. In conjunction with Oxford University Press and Knowledge Schools Trust, they created a complete SSP which was validated by the DfE in June 2021 and published shortly afterwards. ELS has been in use in schools as a validated programme since September 2021.


ELS has been built upon the latest research and understanding about how children learn to read, how we ensure that this stays in their long-term memory and how to get the best outcomes for all learners.  Press and Dodson have drawn on the excellent practice within their own schools and those they have worked across the country whilst developing ELS.

They have seen the impact within their own schools, schools they worked with during the development of ELS and now schools all around the country.


We are aware that some learners are either not ready for this approach, finding it too challenging and will therefore require alternative strategies. In 2006, the Independent Review of the Teaching of Early Reading (the Rose Report) recommended that the simple view be adopted as the underlying conceptual framework informing early reading instruction in the United Kingdom for practitioners and researchers." It incorporates both word recognition and language comprehension as "distinct processes related one to the other. We use this model, to ascertain the reading profiles of pupils. This helps us to understand the approaches we must take to support them to develop both fluent word reading and reading for meaning. With the support of specialist training, teachers will be better equipped to tailor their teaching, across the range of abilities and learning preferences.

Assessments and frameworks used
  1. High-Frequency Words reading checks.

  2. Test of Abstract Language (TALC) - Blank Levels (Supported by SALT moderation) to gauge levels of comprehension.

  3. STAR Reading Assessment

  4. Big Cat Collins reading scheme.

  5. Simple View of Reading (Rose, 2007) framework to inform approaches to reading support.

In Autumn 1, each pupil is baselined on reading and writing high-frequency words. We monitor the progress of students by introducing some high-frequency words and tricky words at each phonics phase. Progress is tracked and monitored regularly to ensure progress toward individual targets.


For example, pupils in KS3 have daily phonics at their identified phonics phase, lasting for 20 minutes. There are 6 phases within our phonics scheme. Each teaching sequence consists of the following five stages:

  1. Introduction - students are introduced to the learning objective and are motivated for the session.

  2. Revisit - any areas of previous learning that were tricky are addressed (also using previous assessments). 

  3. Teach - students are explicitly taught the grapheme/phoneme or skill identified

  4. Practice - games are played to rehearse the new learning as many times as possible (PhonicsPlay supports this).

  5. Apply - students read or write sentences that involve the new learning to ensure consolidation.

Phase 1 supports pupils to develop their speaking and listening skills and linking of sounds and letters. Although all pupils are encouraged to enjoy books, the focus of phase 1 is to listen and repeat sounds, rather than on directly reading words.

Phase 2 introduces simple letter-sound correspondences. As each set of letters are introduced, students are encouraged to use their new knowledge to sound and blend words.

In Phase 3, pupils build on letter-sound correspondences learned in phase 2. They learn consonant digraphs (sounds made up of two letters together such as ‘ch’ or ‘ll’) and long vowel sounds (such as ‘igh’ or ‘ai’).

In Phase 4, pupils will consolidate their knowledge during this phase and they will learn to read and spell words which have adjacent consonants (for example, trap, strong, milk and crept).

Phase 5 will see pupils learning new graphemes for reading. They will also be taught alternative pronunciations for known graphemes. For example, they have already learned ‘ow’ as in ‘cow’ and will now learn ‘ow’ as in ‘blow’. In addition, pupils will learn alternative spellings for known phonemes. For example, the sound /igh/ has been learned as the grapheme ‘igh’ as in ‘night’, but can also be spell y, ie, and i-e.

During Phase 6, pupils will read with increasing fluency. They will have learned most of the common letter-sound correspondences and can read familiar words automatically without needing to sound out and blend. Pupils will work on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters, and so on.

How does phonics link across the curriculum?

Every morning, pupils read to an adult. Pupils receive impactful feedback both verbally and written in their reading records. Depending on the area that each individual pupil needs to develop, will depend on the feedback that is given. Feedback can be given in any of the five components of reading.

These five components include:

  1. Phonemic awareness - blending and segmenting

  2. Phonics - particular sounds and tricky words 

  3. Fluency - reading with expression, appropriate speed and fluency

  4. Vocabulary - self-correction and understanding of vocabulary 

  5. Comprehension - discussion of content, prediction and recap

All students have access to reading books through the scheme Big Cat Collins. This scheme begins with early phonics development through to fluency. Additionally, the scheme enables us to deliver effective phonics with fully decodable books, expertly aligned to Letters and Sounds and in the future, Essential Letters and Sounds. Pupils are encouraged to read at home at least three times a week and also experience adult-led reading time at least once a week.

Pupils are encouraged to segment, blend and use their sounds in lessons across the whole curriculum. One example of this is our daily spelling practice. Each pupil is given a specific spelling list directly linked to the phonics phase they are on (following the same pattern of learning). At the end of the week, all pupils take part in a spelling test and any words they have not correctly spelt are repeated the following week. 

We encourage home learning in all aspects of the literacy curriculum. All pupils have logins to PhonicsPlay and are encouraged to take their home reading books home with them every day. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact the English Leaders -

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