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.

Reading Plus

As part of our commitment to reading, we are piloting a programme call Reading Plus. Reading Plus is a web-based program that builds upon the foundational skills of phonics and phonemic awareness to develop silent reading fluency, comprehension (deeper understanding), and re-engaging reluctant readers in Reading for Pleasure.

Aimed at pupils in KS2 and above, Reading Plus has a readability range from Y2 to beyond GCSE. Using a unique Guided Window system, Reading Plus accelerates silent reading speed and increases pupil’s stamina. Reading Plus consists of 3 areas: Reading, Vocabulary and Visual Skills. Students are able to access the texts and the assessments from any computer or device with their own personal account. They can work towards certificates and achievements, which are personalised to their own rate and level of learning.