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Phonics and Early Reading

Phonics and Early Reading at St John the Evangelist

At St John the Evangelist we value and understand that reading is a vital key life skill which unlocks the wider curriculum, and therefore we are committed to help our pupils develop a lifelong enjoyment of reading. We understand that the teachings of reading is fundamental to the school’s improvement each year and have a sharp focus from the very start to maximum progress.

At St John the Evangelist we prioritise early reading and are determined that every pupil will learn to read. We aim for all of our pupils, including the weakest readers, make sufficient progress to meet or exceed age related expectations.

Many opportunities are provided for pupils to practise and extend their reading in other areas of the curriculum.

We want our children to foster a love of reading

All staff in our school are committed to help our pupils develop a lifelong enjoyment of reading. Teachers talk knowledgeably about all types of children’s literature and encourage pupils to talk about what they have read and actively encourage our younger readers to re-read stories.

Teachers read aloud daily in a way that excites and engages our pupils, introducing new ideas, concepts and vocabulary to stimulate their imagination and expand cognitive development. As our children are read to daily, this helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. Teachers show parents the importance of reading aloud to their children by inviting families to join the class for shared reading sessions. 

The learning environment promotes reading with an engaging, well utilised reading area in each classroom. This is a safe and stimulating area that includes a wide selection of books which are valued and cared for. These books will include fiction and non-fiction texts, poems and rhymes to develop pupils’ vocabulary, language comprehension and love of reading.

In EYFS, we have a library system in place where parents, with their children, can choose a story every Friday and change it weekly to share.

At school, children are given the time to read and most importantly discuss the books they like and dislike. The teachers and other staff members will model this process and encourage the children to reflect on their own reading and share their opinions as much as possible.


Our accredited Phonics Programme and Progression

At St John the Evangelist we use ‘The Bug Club Phonics’ teaching programme which is DfE approved. The programme aims to develop confident and motivate readers to capture children’s imagination to nurture lifelong readers.

The programme is fast paced and backed up by daily revision of past teaching. Each lesson consists of effective, high-quality lessons.

Our school has clear expectations of pupils’ phonics term-by–term, from Nursery to Year 2. (Please see our Phonics Long Term Progression Map)


Books to match your child’s phonic ability

We support the children’s application of phonics by matching their school and home reading books to the sounds that they have previously learnt in class to increase reading fluency. The children use Bug Club Phonics reading books which fully support the daily phonics lesson. The books have been written to match the order in which grapheme−phoneme correspondences are introduced in Bug Club Phonics. The books begin at Phase 1 and continue through to Phase 6.

Each unit of Bug Club Phonics links with a series of decodable texts. These are designed to give children the opportunity to practise their blending skills and to consolidate their knowledge of grapheme−phoneme correspondences, in the context of engaging fiction and non- fiction texts, in addition to the sentence level work in the Language Sessions.

Our teachers show parents how they can practise reading sounds and words and listen to their children read decodable books during ‘Phonics Information meetings’.

Children who are just beginning to learn the letter/sound correspondences are learning at the same time to tell stories using books which do not have words to begin with. This is crucial in the development of spoken language and vocabulary and it is a necessary stepping stone towards becoming an accomplished reader and writer.


When do we start Phonics?

The teaching of synthetic phonics begins as soon as your child starts school. In nursery the children learn to discriminate between sounds in the environment through the use of rhyme, rhythm and alliteration. The foundation stage is a ‘language-rich’ environment that focuses on developing children’s speaking and listening skills to lay the foundations of phonics. The emphasis is to get children attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.

Children are then taught the 26 graphemes and practice recognising phonemes in words. They have opportunities to apply their developing phonic knowledge and skills in the context of shared reading and writing. We use a range of exciting rhymes, songs, practical activities and outdoor learning to embed reading in a range of contexts, demonstrating to children the impact of reading in every aspect of life.

Discrete, daily phonics teaching continues into KS1. The children continue to learn new graphemes for the phonemes they already know, as well as alternative pronunciations for the graphemes. They are also taught the Common Exception Words for Year 1 and 2 as set out in the National Curriculum (2014). The teaching of reading in Year 2 and above continues to improve reading accuracy and fluency as well as further developing pupils’ interest and pleasure as they learn to read independently with confidence.


Your child’s progress

Our teachers are responsible for assessing the progress of all pupils in their class. Ongoing assessment of pupils’ phonics progress is used from the start of nursery and is sufficiently frequent and detailed to identify any pupil who is falling behind the programme’s pace. Our teachers identify children and targeted support is given immediately. Children are given additional practise daily to ensure that they can recognise sounds and blend with confidence and accuracy; this helps all children keep up with the pace of the phonics programme. Our leaders meet frequently with individual teachers to discuss the progress of their pupils and plan how to best support pupils who are not progressing.

(Leaders ensure that late arrivals are assessed immediately and accurately and appropriate support is given if necessary.)


Our Early reading experts

Here at St John the Evangelist we have developed sufficient expertise in the teaching of phonics and reading. Our staff are expert in teaching systematic, synthetic phonics and have a clear understanding of how pupils learn to read. They ensure that children are given quality lessons and daily opportunities to practise phonics and reading through whole class shared reading, paired reading and guided reading with an adult. There are also regular opportunities for children to read on an individual basis.

All of our teachers, teaching assistants and all teachers who are new to the school are given CPD to ensure staff are well trained and knowledgeable and will have regular up-to-date training.

Our leaders work closely with all staff to ensure that they continually develop their practise.


Your child’s Phonics Bug log in details, including their username, password and school code have been provided for your child as a bookmark. Please speak to your child’s teacher for further information. Please use the link below to access Phonics bug.


Bug Club Website:

ActiveLearn: Login (

Bug Club Video: Useful hints and tips on how to use Bug Club

Overview of Bug Club Phonics for parents and carers – YouTube