Early Reading & Phonics

At St. Michael's we are determined that every pupil will learn to read. As such, we recognise the importance of secure phonic knowledge and understanding and its direct impact on standards in reading, writing and spelling.

When children start at St. Michael’s CE Primary Academy in Reception, they are introduced to the Sound!Start Phonics, which is a complete systematic synthetic phonics programme.
In Reception this begins with whole class teaching from week one, when children are taught to focus their attention and become familiar with phonemes (the sounds in spoken words). From then on, the children are taught grapheme phoneme correspondence (the letters that represent phonemes) and by week 8 the children will know the most common single letter sounds and double consonants. Children are taught to read and spell words using the GPCs that they know, whilst simultaneously developing comprehension of taught words. There is also a robust initial focus of good handwriting habits and letter formation from the beginning of the year. Additionally, weekly phonics homework is sent home on a Friday to enable children to practice and to share their learning.

To foster a love of reading, our youngest children are the first to visit our local library in Handsworth, where they choose a library book to take home. In addition to this, storytelling is very much a part of our curriculum offer and this begins in the Early Years. All children in Reception choose a class library book to take home every Friday to share with their parents.

The teaching of high-quality systematic synthetic phonics takes place daily in Reception and Years 1 and 2 this includes direct teaching, guided practice and independent practice, following the Sound! Start phonics programme. These lessons are engaging, interactive and fully differentiated to meet the needs of all pupils, allowing them to make sustained and accelerated progress. Children are taught the skill of blending sounds to read words and once this skill is embedded, they can use their phonic knowledge and skills to read sentences and then whole texts. We recognise that both word recognition and comprehension are crucial skills to help children become confident readers who can critically engage with texts so as a result we emphasise the skills of decoding, word recognition and fluency.

In order to ensure every child becomes a reader, we have clear expectations of pupils' phonic progress each term from Reception to Year 2. This can be found here.

To find out more about SoundStart Phonics, the website can be found here:

Sound Start Phonics | Getting phonics right from the start

Phonics Progression