Reading and phonics

Boy on whiteboard

At Helen Allison we know that it is vitally important for your child to achieve in reading and phonics from the very start of their academic career. As every child is different, we have a range of resources and teaching methods at our disposal. Teaching takes place as a whole class or in small groups, depending on the needs of the children.

Phonics and reading are very closely linked. To read and spell accurately we teach your child skills to be able to decode words. They learn to:

  • Segment: separate sounds in words
  • Blend: push sounds together to form words
  • Manipulate sounds: take sounds out and put sounds into words.

One of the first skills your child needs to acquire is to recognise and use the 44 main letter sounds, and how to form and write the letters of the alphabet. It is also very important that your child is taught to use the pure sounds. 


‘Sounds-Write’ is the school’s main approach to teaching phonics and is acknowledged by the Department for Education as meeting all its criteria for an effective phonics teaching programme. We teach the children in small steps, constantly reinforcing and building upon their knowledge until they can confidently read, write and spell.

The Sounds-Write programme is used throughout the school together with a range of other schemes to help us tailor the teaching of phonics to your child’s individual needs. 


To become a good reader your child must learn not only to read the words but also to understand the pictures and illustrations, as they can add an extra dimension to what is being read.  At first, children concentrate on reading the words with little thought given to what they are reading. Fluency and expression follow while comprehension develops over a longer period.  Inference is a skill that children learn later.

At Helen Allison our reading scheme and reading groups incorporate a variety of books including Oxford Reading Tree, Snapdragons, Project X, Dandelions, and Rigby Star graded books. Once children reach a level beyond the reading scheme, they can choose from a selection of free choice books as this enriches and develops their vocabulary, comprehension skills and ultimately their writing and spelling skills.

We encourage every child to read at home every day and there are opportunities for quiet reading within the school day.

Accelerated Reader

As part of our commitment to reading we have invested in a programme called Accelerated Reader. Pupils are able to read at the most appropriate level, completing quizzes to ensure they have understood the books. This enables them to make better progress in reading. This programme also has a special feature called Renaissance Home Connect, which parents can access outside of school from any computer with an internet connection. It is fun and easy to use and allows parents, pupils and teachers to share information about their progress in reading. There is also a website called www.arbookfind.co.uk which parents, children and teachers can use to choose books at the appropriate level, whether to be borrowed from school, the local library or even to purchase as a gift.

Information about Accelerated Reader has been sent to all parents.