Reading and Phonics

How we teach reading at Great Dunmow Primary School 


We use a structured systematic approach to teaching phonics which begins in Foundation Stage. Children begin by learning sets of lower case letters by ‘sound’ and build on this until they are confident to use all representations of sounds outlined in the ‘Letters and Sounds’ scheme produced by the Department for Education. Throughout Key Stage One, children participate in daily phonic sessions. These can be as part of a whole class or in some circumstances as part of a small group. Any children in the school who are identified as needing further support with their phonics are then given extra teaching in groups or on an individual basis.

Phonics is taught in a variety of interactive ways. The use of ‘Jolly Phonics’ and the actions and songs that go with this are greatly enjoyed by the children.   EYFS and KS1 children enjoy using games and ICT to enhance their phonetic understanding along with a wealth of songs and rhymes. Children are also given letters to take home so that parents can support and reinforce learning.

We also teach the ‘Tricky words’ identified in the ‘Letters and Sounds Scheme’ and High Frequency words, that are not decodable using phonics. This is carried out through the use of flashcards, reading books and a variety of games. The teaching of tricky words continues from Foundation stage through into Year 1 and 2.

Phonics teaching continues throughout Key stage 1 and 2 in the form of interventions if there is a need for this further input.



Our approach to reading at Great Dunmow is through multi-skills based learning. This involves visual clues (pictures), which are discussed with the children, as well as focusing on sound recognition, whole word recognition, learning high frequency words and reading for meaning. The children will choose a book within a specified colour band according to their needs; the colour bands are progressive. The class teacher will regularly assess their understanding and readiness to progress.

Throughout the school, children take part in daily Guided Reading sessions where they will complete reading based activities independently, with a teacher or Learning Support Assistant as part of a small group on a cycle. These groups focus particularly on comprehension and inference skills. In Foundation Stage, these Guided Reading sessions start from the Summer Term.

Teachers carry out ongoing assessments and use these to ensure that children are reading books of an appropriate level. The assessments also inform teachers so that learning is targeted in the Guided Reading sessions enable children to make maximum progress in their reading.

Throughout the school, children are heard read a minimum of twice a week. A teacher will hear them read every week through guided reading sessions and another adult in school will then hear them read for a second time during the week. For those children who are identified as needing further support, they will be heard read on a more regular basis. Reading is valued highly in the school and a love for reading is promoted within every class.