The subject of English includes Reading and Writing.


Our Intent

At Combe CE Primary School, we want all pupils to be readers who have:

  • Excellent phonic knowledge and skills.
  • Fluency and accuracy in reading across a wide range of contexts throughout the curriculum.
  • Knowledge of an extensive and rich vocabulary.
  • An excellent comprehension of texts.
  • The motivation to read for both study and for pleasure.
  • Extensive knowledge through having read a rich and varied range of texts.


In September 2019 we introduced Letters and Sounds as our systematic approach to teaching phonics.

Letters and Sounds aims to build children’s speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting before the age of five, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven.

What Are Phonics Phases?

Phases are the way the Letters and Sounds Programme is broken down to teach sounds in a certain order. At the same time whole words that cannot be broken down easily, (we call “tricky words”) are taught to the children.

Phase One (Nursery/Reception)
Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.
Phase Two (Reception) up to 6 weeks
Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.
Phase Three (Reception) up to 12 weeks
The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the “simple code”, i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.
Phase Four (Reception) 4 to 6 weeks
No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.
Phase Five (Throughout Year 1)
Now we move on to the “complex code”. Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.
Phase Six

(Throughout Year 2 and beyond)
Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.
What are “Tricky words”?

Tricky words are words that cannot be ‘sounded-out’ but need to be learned by heart. They don’t fit into the usual spelling patterns. In order to read simple sentences, it is necessary for children to know some words that have unusual or untaught spellings. It should be noted that, when teaching these words, it is important to always start with sounds already known in the word, then focus on the ‘tricky’ part.


What are High Frequency words?

High frequency (common) are words that recur frequently in much of the written material young children read and that they need when they write.


What do the Phonics terms mean?

Phoneme: The smallest unit of sound in a word, e.g. c/a/t,  sh/o/p, t/ea/ch/er.

Grapheme: A letter or group of letter representing one sound, e.g. sh, t, igh.

Clip Phonemes:  when teaching sounds ,always clip them short ‘mmmm’  not ‘muh’

Digraph: Two letters which together make one sound, e.g. sh, ch, ee, ph, oa.

Split digraph: Two letters, which work as a pair, split, to represent one sound, e.g. a-e as in cake, or i-e as in kite.

Trigraph:  three letters which together make one sound but cannot be separated into smaller phonemes, e.g. igh as in light, ear as in heard, tch as in watch.

Segmentation: means hearing the individual phonemes within a word – for instance the word ‘crash’ consists of four phonemes: ‘c – r – a – sh’. In order to spell this word, a child must segment it into its component phonemes and choose a grapheme to represent each phoneme.

Blending: means merging the individual phonemes together to pronounce a word. In order to read an unfamiliar word, a child must recognise (‘sound out’) each grapheme, not each letter (e.g. ‘th-i-n’ not ‘t-h-i-n’), and then mergethe phonemes together to make the word.

Mnemonics: a device for memorising and recalling something, such as a hand action of a drill to remember the phoneme /d/.

Adjacent consonants:  two or three letters with discrete sounds, which are blended together e.g. str, cr, tr, gr. (previously consonant clusters).

Comprehension: understanding of language whether it is spoken or written.


Reading schemes

We use the Oxford Reading Tree as our core reading scheme in EYFS and KS1.

Children share a book with an adult at school and are encouraged to read this at home too (see homework policy). Parents and Carers can record progress in a Reading Diary which is also used by members of staff. In this way, an overall picture of a child’s reading skills can be obtained.

The other Reading Schemes used alongside ORT are Jelly and Bean and Phonics Bug where the books are entirely decodable.

The ORT books are carefully graded to build on prior learning, practise taught skills and develop sight vocabulary. We have a very wide range of these books in each of the different categories e.g. “First Words” “Phonics” and “Decode and Develop” and the children are encouraged to choose their own books according to those particular skills they are working on.

The table below show the ORT book levels and national ‘book bands’ matched to our Letters and Sounds phases.

By KS2, most children move onto a range of fiction and non-fiction texts with varying degrees of challenge dependent on the reading ability of the child.


Reading lessons

In EYFS, KS1 and LKS2, children read with their teachers in guided reading sessions. A range of appropriate text types are used for guided reading, with the text being slightly above the level the child would be able to read independently.

In LKS2 and UKS2, we use the whole class ‘Love to Read’ scheme to develop reading comprehension skills.

In LKS2, the books include:

  • Stig of the Dump, Clive King
  • Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Family from One End Street, Eve Garnett
  • The Indian in the Cupboard, Lynne Reid Banks
  • Thieves of Ostia, Caroline Lawrence
  • The Firework Maker’s Daughter, Philip Pullman
  • Demon Dentist, David Walliams
  • Greek Myths for Young Children, Heather Amery
  • The Iron Man, Ted Hughes
  • I Was There 1066, Jim Eldridge

In UKS2, the books include:

  • Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White
  • Pig Heart Boy, Malorie Blackman
  • Tom’s Midnight Garden, Philippa Pearce
  • Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
  • Treason, Berlie Doherty
  • Holes, Louis Sachar
  • Northern Lights, Philip Pullman
  • Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Joan Aiken
  • Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea, Michael Morpurgo
  • The Phoenix Code, Helen Moss
  • Sky Hawk, Gill Lewis


At Combe CE Primary School, we want all pupils to be writers who have:

  • The ability to write fluently and with interesting detail on a number of topics throughout the curriculum.
  • A vivid imagination which makes readers engage with and enjoy their writing.
  • A highly developed vocabulary and an excellent knowledge of writing techniques to extend details or description.
  • Well-organised and structured writing, which includes a variety of sentence structures.
  • Excellent transcription skills that ensure their writing is well presented and punctuated, spelled correctly and neat.
  • A love of writing and an appreciation of its educational, cultural and entertainment values.

Children write for a range of audiences and purposes across the year, as shown here. Where possible, writing tasks are linked with children’s CCC learning.



The ability to write fluently and legibly gives children a means to communicate their thoughts and ideas efficiently. Handwriting is a skill which must be learnt in order to provide a style which becomes simple to produce and easy to read.

At Combe CE Primary School we use a cursive handwriting style. We use cursive handwriting because it helps children to learn and remember spelling patterns. It is an integral part of the multi-sensory technique enabling pupils to make the automatic symbol-sound relationship for spelling. We believe this raises standards in handwriting throughout the whole school, developing confidence, accuracy and fluency and improved presentation.

Cursive writing:

  • Helps minimise confusion for the child as every letter starts on the line with an entry stroke and leads out with an exit stroke.
  • Aids the left to right movements through each word across the page and helps develop a child’s visual memory
  • Helps sequencing and prevents reversals, inversions and omissions.
  • Aids legibility, especially for those with motor and spatial difficulties, providing a motor training programme.
  • Letters naturally flow into each other, it is impossible to write separate letters without joining, therefore it will eventually help them to increase the speed of their writing.
  • Form spacing between words as the child develops whole word awareness

A cursive style of handwriting is recommended by the British Dyslexia Association.