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Cascade Multi Academy Trust

Phonics and Holistic Reading



Across the Federation, we follow the Letters and Sounds programme for the teaching and learning of phonics. Children receive daily phonics sessions in Early Years and KS1. Those children who require phonics in KS2 also receive Phonics sessions, at least 5 times a week, usually taken by the classroom teaching assistant, but monitored by the class teacher and year group leader. During phonics, children learn how to ‘blend to read, segment to write’ - a vital strategy in learning to read. In KS2 where children have progressed beyond phonics, children will be taught spelling strategies at an age appropriate level. Our spelling scheme is called no nonsense spelling and this enables children to spell correctly, but also understand the root form of the word and support them with inferring the meaning of new vocabulary. In KS2 children are grouped according to their phonic/spelling stage to ensure the most accurate and purposeful teaching for the child.

Letters and Sounds splits learning into 6 phonic phases:

Phase 1 develops children’s ability to hear and distinguish sounds around them. It focuses on oral blending and segmenting and rhyming.
Phase 2 introduces letter sounds for reading and writing with a set of letters being taught weekly. It begins to look at blending for reading and segmenting for writing. A selection of ‘tricky words’ are taught during Phase 2.
Phase 3 introduces the rest of the individual letter sounds and diagraphs. Children will continue blending and segmenting and further tricky words are taught. Children will also learn the letters of the alphabet during this phase.
Phase 4 helps build on the previous understanding of blending and segmenting and children gain experience of using words that have adjacent consonants such as trap, milk. No new sounds are taught.
Phase 5 introduces alternative graphemes for phonemes e.g. children will know /ai/ as in rain from phase 3 but they will learn that /ay/ as in day and /a_e/ as in make also make the /ai/ sound. They will also learn alternative pronunciations for graphemes e.g. ea – tea, head, break.
Phase 6 allows children to become fluent readers and accurate spellers. The no nonsense spelling scheme follows on from this smoothly.

Across the Federation in Year 1 the children are tested used the national phonics screening test. Those children who do not meet the required standard retake this test in Year 2. In Key Stage 2, everyday Literacy teaching includes elements of spelling, punctuation and Grammar (SPaG) for all children. A bespoke programme appropriate to the needs of the learners is delivered and class teachers then ensure the application of this learning in all areas of the curriculum.

Holistic Reading

In the Crucible Federation, we recognise that phonics does not help all children in learning to read. Therefore, we also deliver a reading programme called Holistic Reading. This reading intervention works on developing a bank of vocabulary that children can read on sight. It allows the children to become fluent readers with a wider range of texts built on sight reading strategies and games. We also ensure that our children that are new to English access this reading programme as an intervention to accelerate reading progress as rapidly as possible. Children are specifically targeted to access this programme in FS and Year 1 to ensure their reading fluency level is increased going into Y2. Children from Y2 and across KS2 access holistic reading as an intervention.

Guided Reading

All children across the Crucible Federation receive an adult led Guided Reading session in their class twice per week or a daily Book Study session.

During Guided Reading, classroom practitioners focus on targeted groups of children to extend their reading skills through carefully planned reading tasks appropriate for their age and stage. Children then complete follow up activities based on their focussed sessions and independent learning tasks which consolidates previous learning. Children are given the opportunity to develop their comprehension skills through comprehension activities, inference and deduction skill based activities as well as predicting and summarising.

During Book Study sessions, children access the same text. This is usually pitched at a higher level than the individuals in the class currently read at. This is to promote more exciting, challenging texts to pupils and to develop their skills of inference and deduction. As a class, the children explore comprehension questions based on reading domains, and then revisit the task either independently or with adult support.

Reading Environments

Each school has a school library stocked with a range of fiction and non-fiction texts. Children are encouraged to borrow books from the school library to support their learning as well as choosing books for enjoyment. The libraries are well organised, attractive environments with comfortable seating.

Every classroom has a reading area with a reading display. Children are encouraged to access the reading areas independently and have regular opportunities to change their reading books. Each classroom has a range of book banded books and children know which book band is suitable for them. Parents are also invited into classrooms in mornings to encourage children to change their home reading books.


The range of books we use to teach reading ensures that our children read a range of quality texts that cover a variety of genres as their reading skills develop. As children become more confident readers, they are encouraged to choose their own books, which suit both their interests and reading needs. Our aim is for children to develop an ownership over the books they choose and to be confident in talking about reasons for their choices. In addition to the books in school, each class from Y1 onwards visits the local library; this enables our children to choose independently from an even wider range of books, as well as have experienced staff read to them and teach them how to use a library.

We also used the Library Service – this ensures that our classrooms always have a good selection of topic books to support our children’s learning across the curriculum.

Class Stories and Reading for Pleasure

Class stories are also used to engage children in reading within our classrooms – and where possible these are linked to our curriculum themes. Shorter stories are used in both Key Stage 1 and Foundation Stage to hook in our younger readers. In school, we have books to suit all readers including an extensive range of high interest low-level texts. These allow all our children to access reading material at a level which is suitable to them.
Assessment of Reading
Assessment is an important strand of the teaching and learning of reading within the Crucible Federation. It is used to inform the children’s next steps and takes many forms in our classrooms. Ongoing observations/assessments are made by our practitioners during Guided Reading/Book Study sessions as specific objectives are taught and reviewed. Additionally we use benchmarking and written reading tests to further inform our ongoing teacher assessments.