Phonics at Westhaven

At Westhaven, we teach phonics using the Letters and Sounds programme, supported by the use of Jolly Phonics kinaesthetic actions and stories for our younger pupils. In Lower School, one lesson a week is entirely phonics-focused and phonics and sounds are revised daily.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings we hold booster phonics sessions for all pupils. Pupils are taught in small groups according to their phonics ability. During these sessions, pupils engage in a variety of practical activities using materials such as paint, Playdoh, chalk and foam to reinforce their learning. For those pupils who are free readers and spellers, these sessions run as “Book Clubs”, where the emphasis is on comprehension and discussion of themes and characters. Spellings are set during these booster sessions based on the sound of the week. For the free reader groups, spellings are set according to the 2014 Curriculum SPaG Guidelines.

As children move through the early stages of acquiring phonics, they practice by reading texts which are entirely decodable for them from the Rigby Star Phonics, Dandelion and Jelly & Bean schemes. We have also introduced a range of high interest / low level phonics books aimed at our older pupils which are fantasy stories from the Totem, Talisman and Alba range from Phonic Books.

Phonics is used by all staff across all areas of the curriculum to reinforce learning in reading and spelling.

Reading at Westhaven

At Westhaven, pupils are encouraged to read as much as possible, both at school and at home. The newly refurbished library has a wide variety of non-fiction and fictions books as well as a range of magazines and word games. There is a Reading Club at lunchtimes where books from the “Special Book Bag” are shared and discussed. All pupils have one dedicated lesson per week in the library as part of their English sessions.

All children are encouraged to select books from the classroom, library or home to share with their parents to encourage a love of reading.
Once children can read fluently and with a good understanding, they self-select books for independent reading from the school library or from home. Pupils can also access Bug Club e-books at school and at home from a personalized selection made by the teacher.

We also run our Better Reading Partners scheme which involves volunteers coming into school on a regular basis to listen to our less confident readers

read on a one-to-one basis. The scheme is challenging in that it requires phonics knowledge, as well as recognition of tricky words and we have seen excellent improvements in both confidence and reading ability as a result of this.

Reading is a fundamental part of the English curriculum. All pupils have a reading target for each term which is clearly displayed at the front of their folders / books. Pupils are encouraged to have a book “on the go” at all times and staffs are active in encouraging a love of reading by sharing their own reading preferences in lessons and during assemblies. Pupils are assessed in reading at the beginning and end of each academic year with prizes awarded to those pupils whose reading age has improved the most.


If you would like further information or would like to know how you can help your child with reading and phonics please contact Mrs Payne.