Reading and Phonics (including Accelerated Reader)

Our phonics lead is Mrs E Jochacy.
Our reading lead is Mrs C Johnson.
We use the Department for Education's Letters and Sounds programme to teach children Phonics during daily sessions.  This is additionally supplemented with Phonics Bug and Jolly Phonics resources throughout the school.
We use Accelerated Reader to support the teacher's assessment of reading.  Children choose reading books according to the correct reading range. Once finished they then complete a quiz on an Ipad to ensure they have a good understanding of what they have read.  The children are motivated to read by growing electronic sunflowers as they progress.
Click here to view the accelerated book finder.
Phonics and early reading intent

At Russell, we value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. Reading begins at the earliest stage when children enjoy looking at books and hearing stories being read to them.  They then learn that print conveys meaning and carefully planned and sequenced phonics teaching, via Letters and Sounds and Jolly Phonics across Foundation Stage and KS1 provide children with the skills and knowledge they need to become confident readers.

The systematic teaching of phonics has a high priority throughout Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. We acknowledge that children need to be taught the key skills in segmenting and blending to be equipped with the knowledge to be able to complete the phonics check at the end of year 1. We also value and encourage the pupils to read for enjoyment and recognise that this starts with the foundations of acquiring letter sounds, segmenting and blending skills.

At Russell we feel that links between home and school are imperative to the children’s learning and progress. To equip parents to be able to support phonics and reading with their child at home we offer parent workshops discussing how phonics is taught, giving parents an opportunity to look at the resources we use to support learning and the opportunity to find out about the Year 1 phonic screening test expectations. Following on from this session we invite the parents into see a ‘live’ phonics sessions in their own child’s class. This is where parents can see the structure, activities and expectations of a phonics session at Russell.

As the children progress through KS1 they move on to the Accelerated Reader programme. This enables the children to improve their reading ability as well as increase their enjoyment of it. We intend for the children to become enthusiastic and motivated readers and to develop their confidence in reading a wide variety of genres and text types. We aim to encourage a love of literature, the enjoyment of reading for pleasure and to use reading to provoke thought within children.

At Russell we use ‘World Book Day’ as an opportunity to excite the children about reading! The children are invited to dress up as their favourite book character or a school theme e.g. characters from books by the author Julia Donaldson. The learning is then planned around the theme or the children’s choice of books, even inviting parent’s in to school to see a parade of the children’s learning from that day! The children regularly visit our school library which is full of exciting texts within a wide range of fiction and non- fiction. The children have the opportunity to take a book home each week to share with their family. In class, the children are read to by an adult daily, sharing either a book from our familiar book boxes or a chapter book which really gets the children excited about what might happen next and builds a wider range of rich vocabulary.

We want the children of Russell Lower to leave us as confident, fluent readers who begin their time with us by ‘learning to read’ and leave us ‘reading to learn!’


Reading intent

Reading begins at the earliest stage when children enjoy exploring books and hearing stories being read to them. Pupils learn that print conveys meaning and carefully planned and sequenced phonics teaching, via Letters and Sounds across Foundation Stage and KS1 provides pupils with the skills and knowledge they need to become confident readers. 

At the heart of our English curriculum are high quality, vocabulary enriched texts. We encourage pupils to read a wide range of texts and expose them to a variety both fiction and non-fiction in order to support them in gaining a life-long enjoyment of reading.

The range of texts shared and studied at Russell Lower supports pupils in developing their understanding of themselves and the world in which they live as well as gaining knowledge across the curriculum and developing their comprehension skills through the use of VIPERS lessons.

In order to develop reading skills further we also endeavour to teach from and expose pupils to more challenging texts which are above their age range such as the use of ‘War Horse’ in year 4, ‘Iron Man’ in year 3 and ‘Wind in the Willows’ in year 2. These challenging texts not only capture the pupils’ interests and imagination but also offer a wealth of high-quality vocabulary to be explored, explained and ultimately used within their writing.

It is our intention to ensure that, by the end of their time at Russell Lower, all pupils are able to read fluently and accurately with a good level of understanding and confidence.

Long term phonics/spelling plan
Reading documents

Phonics workshop – Tuesday 22nd September -  Year 1 and Year 2

Do you want to know more about the government's statutory phonics screening test your children will take this year?

Would you like to be able to better support your child’s phonics at home?

Would you like to know how we teach phonics at school, and why it is so important?

As you are no doubt aware, children in Year 1, throughout the country, normally take part in a government phonics screening check in June each year.  Due to Coronavirus this did not happen.  Children in Year 2 will now be required to take the test at the end of November 2020 and, if they do not achieve the required pass mark (32/40 for all previous years so far), they will be required to retake it again in June 2021.  Our Year 1 children will also all take the government screening test in June 2021.

We normally hold an information session/workshop in school for Parents/Carers to explain this further, to let you know how you can support your children and to answer any questions you may have.  Unfortunately, this is not possible this year and as a result we are sending you a Loom link to a video presentation (30 minutes, which you can pause/re-play at your leisure) by Mrs Jochacy (our Phonics lead) and the associated PowerPoint and Parent Handout as attachments.

Our long term teaching plan for phonics and spelling can be found here:

We would urge as many of you as possible to view this Loom 'Workshop' so that you are best able to support your children.  Just click on the link below to view it.  You can watch it as many times as you want.

Following this, should you have any questions, please contact your child’s class teacher via the class email, or Mrs Jochacy (our Phonics Lead) at The slides, Loom and resources will all also be available via the ‘Parent Workshops’ tab on the school website.

Thank you so much for your continued support.


Loom video link: 


Additional resources linked to Letters and Sounds

Youtube video links:  

A typical phonics lesson structure (10 mins) words with segmenting (sounding out) and blending for reading (4 mins)
CVCC words being taught in class (reading) (3mins 30 seconds)
CVCC words being taught for segmenting in preparation for spelling (and writing) (4 mins 46 seconds) 
FS Reading and Writing Workshop 1/10/20
Normallly, we would invite you into school to attend a FS  Reading  and  Writing  Workshop today.  Mrs Brown and I would talk you through how we approach teaching reading and writing at school and how you can support your children from home.

Regrettably as you know, we are currently unable to have parents in school, so we have created a Loom Video of the workshop for you to watch (and re-watch if you want to!) at your leisure.  Please see below.

As well as the link to the workshop itself, we have also created a Loom Video demonstrating how to say the letter sounds in our Phonics sessions (although the sound quality of the Youtube video is not as good as we would like).  We have also included a hyperlink so you can go straight to the Youtube video yourself as you may find the sound quality better.

Reading Diary/Record:Now you have 'seen' how we approach these subject we will be sending home reading books for the first time on Monday.  Please aim to read with your child 4 times each week, recording this in the Reading Diary please.  Purple shelf books are wordless.  Please still look at the book together, discussing the 'story' and using appropriate vocabulary.  Evidence shows that this is the single biggest beneficial 'habit' you can form to support your child's success at school. Little and oftern practice is essential at this stage.  This should also be recorded in the Reading Diary please.  Thank you very much.

Learning Logs:Learning Logs will begin just before half term (as the first one is 'My Half Term').  These are lovely ways to support your children's learning further from home. 
Thank you in advance for all your support from home.  A partnership between home and school allows your child to thrive and feel confident.

How to ask a question: If you have any queries about reading or writing at Russell you can contact the class teachers
Mrs Brown is the Phase Leader and can be contacted via Swan Class email.
Thank you so much for your time and your support.

Link to the Loom video workshop: 
Link to the 'How to say pure sounds' Loom video:

Link to the 'How to say pure sounds' video - Youtube: