Gateway Academy Westminster

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Curriculum Intent

Being able to read is the most important skill children will learn during their early schooling and has far-reaching implications for lifelong confidence and well-being. The independent review of early reading conducted by Jim Rose confirmed that ‘high quality phonic work’ should be the prime means for teaching children how to read and spell words. The review also highlighted the importance of developing from the earliest stages children’s speaking and listening skills, ensuring that beginner readers are ready to get off to a good start in phonic work by the age of five. Such work should be set within a broad and rich language curriculum.

The use of phonics is one of the many skills needed to be able to be a reader and writer. We aim to teach high quality phonics to ensure the children have the best start possible in reading and writing. The learning of phonics is the beginning of children’s body of knowledge, skills and understanding that are an essential part of learning to read. In order to read and understand texts children must learn to recognise/decode the words on the page. Good quality phonics teaching allows the child to be secure in the skills of word recognition and decoding which allows children to read fluently. This will result in children being able to read for pleasure and will allow them to move onto developing higher order reading for meaning skills. These phonic skills need to be taught systematically and involve a variety e.g., multi-sensory resources for all learners.

Our children are entitled to a Phonics curriculum which enables them to:

  • apply their phonic knowledge and skills to decode unfamiliar words fluently and accurately.
  • read rapidly to apply what they have learned across the whole curriculum.
  • create fluent readers, confident speakers and willing writers.
  • develop a life-long love of reading.


The Curriculum

In line with the School’s policy and commitment to excellence in Phonics, each class in Reception and KS1 teaches phonics as a discrete lesson every day and will include phonics as part of teaching and learning throughout other curriculum lessons on a daily basis.

The structure of each lesson at Gateway and the journey of Phonics across the week enables all aspects of the blending and segmenting of phonemes/graphemes; lessons are uniquely planned and tailored to meet the needs of all our learners.

The teacher provide stimulating experiences and opportunities to motivate the child, using a range of resources to engage individuals and groups of children.

We believe that phonics teaching should be:

  • Systematic
  • Discrete
  • Interactive
  • Practical
  • Engaging
  • Multi-sensory
  • Differentiated

Our children are provided with a variety of opportunities to develop and extend their phonics skills in and across Nursery, Reception and Key Stage 1. It will also be continued into Key Stage 2, where necessary to support those children who do not yet have the phonic knowledge and skills they need.

Discrete phonics lessons take place daily across Reception and Key Stage 1. They follow the cycle of ‘Review, Teach, Practise, Apply’ to ensure that children are consolidating phonic knowledge and skills over time and that they are able to apply them in context.


By the end of Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) children should:

  • read and understand simple sentences.
  • use phonic knowledge to decode common words and read them aloud accurately.
  • confidently read by sight the Stage 2 and 3 common exception words
  • use phonic knowledge to write words in a way which matches how the sounds are said.
  • write some irregular common words.


By the end of Years 1 children should be able to:

  • apply phonic knowledge and skill as the prime approach to reading unfamiliar words that are not completely decodable;
  • read many frequently-encountered words automatically
  • read phonically decodable three-syllable words
  • read a range of age-appropriate texts fluently
  • demonstrate understanding of age-appropriate texts
  • read decodable words that end –s, –es, -ing, -ed, -er, -est  
  • say the correct sound to grapheme for all the 40+ phonemes up to Stage 5


By the end of Year 2 children should be able to:

  • read accurately most words of two or more syllables.
  • read most words containing common suffixes.


Phonics screening check

Schools are required to assess children’s phonic skills at the end of Year 1.

  • The phonics screening check is a statutory assessment that was introduced in 2012 for all children in Year 1.
  • It will take place in early June.
  • It comprises of a list of 40 words (20 real and 20 nonsense).
  • Expectation from the Government is that pupils should achieve at least 32 out of 40 to reach the expected level. The pass mark varies year on year.
  • The check will take up to fifteen minutes per pupil and will be conducted by the class teacher.
  • Children who do not achieve the expected level at the end of Year 1 will retake the screening in Year 2.


How Parents Can Help

Read to and with your child as often as possible. Talk about words, letters, and sounds in the house and when you are out and about. Make letters in fun ways such as in clay, play dough, or sand and talk about the sound each letter makes and the sounds they make when they are combined. Make an appointment with your child’s teacher to discuss other ways to help your child learn phonics.

Phonics forms the language we speak, read and write. Language is made up of words. Words are made up of sounds (phonemes). When we write, we use written symbols (graphemes) to represent the sounds. These graphemes may be single letters or combinations of letters such as sh, oy and igh. The 26 letters of the alphabet create 44 phonemes and 144 letter combinations. Follow the video to hear the phonemes children use when they are reading.

Here are some additional links to YouTube videos to help you and your child practice the sounds.


Reading can change lives.  At Gateway we are committed to improving the teaching of reading.  We aim to give children the skills and ability to read independently and effectively for meaning. You can read the Early Reading Policy here


Further Support And Useful Weblinks

Below are links to some online resources that you may find useful at home.

CBeebies Alphablocks

Family Learning's Phonics games