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Phonics and Early Reading at Westgate


Key Stage 1 Phonics


We use a Systematic, Synthetic Phonics programme - Red Rose Letters and Sounds - to teach our children to read by associating graphemes (letters or groups of letters) to phonemes (sounds). This is taught daily and begins in our Reception classes straight away. Children use this knowledge to blend and segment phonetically decodable words and sentences. Alongside this, children also learn to read ‘Tricky Words’ and High Frequency Words smoothly and on sight. Developing this knowledge empowers children with the skills to be able to read fully decodable texts with support initially and then independently.

We have organised our decodable home reading books so they follow the week by week sequence of Red Rose Letters and Sounds therefore closely match and support current or previous learning. 

The Red Rose Letters and Sounds programme develops children’s phonetic knowledge and skills so individuals can learn to read easily, fluently and with good understanding. Through the Red Rose Letters and Sounds programme, children are also to be able to spell and write fluently. 

All staff who deliver phonic sessions are trained and sessions are monitored regularly to ensure consistency and quality.

Catch up to keep up lessons


Any child that needs additional practice has regular keep up support. This support matches the teaching sequence and uses the same resources but it is delivered in smaller steps with more focus on repetition so every child can secure their learning. 

Children in years 2 and 3 who are not fluent readers or who did not pass the phonics screening check have extra phonic or reading sessions tailored to their needs at least three times a week to catch up. These children are assessed to identify and target gaps in phonic knowledge.

If any children in year 4 to 6 have gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, interventions to address specific reading gaps are timetabled.


These sessions are closely overseen by our phonics lead to ensure rigour and high quality teaching and learning.


For further details on Phonics at Westgate, please click this link to access Westgate’s Phonics Statement.


Reception and Year 1 Book Looks and Targeted Group Reading


Not only do children need to apply their phonetic knowledge across the curriculum and school day, they also need to develop their listening skills, comprehension skills and love of stories. 

Therefore, our Early Readers also take part in a Book Look session each day, fostering our 7 Reading Intentions. This comprises of a carefully considered whole class session focussing on the comprehension of a text which provides stretch and challenge. It allows the children to show their deeper understanding of a story, poem or non-fiction text through role play, drama and answering planned and purposeful questions. Children develop their spoken language skills whilst enriching and strengthening their vocabulary.

Alongside Book Looks, the children also complete a ‘targeted group reading’ session. This is where they work in a small group to practice, apply and consolidate their phonics skills with the teacher carefully guiding and supporting individuals to read a decodable text independently.  Each targeted group read session is in line with the phonics sequence the children are currently learning and provides an opportunity for direct and explicit teaching of reading skills.

Through the book look and targeted group reading sessions, our children become motivated to read, interested in a range of texts and able to make links to their own experiences.


Home Reading


Home reading is very important and takes high priority at Westgate. Children have access to a wide range of different books and are expected to read at least three times a week.


In Reception and KS1, children’s home reading books are linked to the phonics lessons in school. Children will take home two books: one book is kept for two reads so children can build their reading fluency. In KS2, children’s home reading books are linked to their reading ability. There are also KS2 phonic books with a higher interest level for those children that are working on building their reading skills.  


In Reception & Key Stage One, each class has a book worm to encourage and reward reading at home.

All children read to an adult in school. We train all our class based adults in school so the 1-1 read is of a consistent high quality, developing and consolidating skills and knowledge from the reading sessions across school. We prioritize the lower 20% to read more frequently to an adult, in particular the class teacher. This is monitored through class reading registers which are kept in every class.