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Early Reading and Phonics

Early Reading

The teaching of early reading starts with our youngest children. To ensure our nursery and reception children are well prepared and ready to begin their reading journey we:

  • deliver our curriculum through the use of high-quality stories, songs  and rhymes
  • provide activities that develop speaking, listening and attention
  • share high-quality stories every day with explicit modelling from adults



At Thorntree Academy, we use the sounds-write: a real phonic programme that teaches in simple steps how the sounds of the language are represented by the writing system. Sounds-write is a structured synthetic phonics programme based on the science of reading. This multisensory, code-orientate, cumulative approach allows us to support our early readers with reading, writing and spelling from the very beginning.


In EYFS, children learn the concepts necessary for proficient reading and writing. They master the 175 most common spellings of the 44 sounds in English through reading and writing polysyllabic words, as well as following sounds-write’s two codes:

  • the Initial Code (Reception)
  • the Extended Code (Year 1 onwards).

How do we teach sounds-write at Thorntree Academy?

Children are taught phonics in mixed ability classes: children are not streamed into ability groups but are instead supported and stretched through precision teacher assessment; differentiation and adult support


Delivery of lessons:

  • Both initial code and extended code sounds are taught using the whole word: no sounds are taught in isolation
  • During the extended code, children are taught to recognise all alternative spellings for each sound (sound family)
  • Lessons are scripted to support teachers with a consistent guide for the teaching of phonics
  • Teachers plan a mixture of these lessons in each phonics session to enable children to retrieve prior knowledge; have exposure to a new sound; opportunities to read and write words as well as sound swap nonsense words.
  • Children are taught the ‘pure’ sounds ie ‘mmmm’ and not ‘muh’ to enable blending
  • Children are taught to ‘Say the sounds and read/write the word to gain as much exposure to the sounds as possible.


Children will also be given a soundswrite-approved reading book which will match their phonic ability to take home and practise.



Support for early readers

We have a continuous cycle of assessment for phonics, including standardised testing, phonics trackers and soundswrite diagnostic testing. As a result, we are able to provide tailored intervention and additional phonics sessions for all KS1 children through ‘keep up’ and ‘catch up’ groups.

At Thorntree, we recognise that for some children, early reading may stretch beyond KS1. For our early readers in KS2, soundswrite phonic sessions are delivered daily. Children in KS2 who need more support with reading also access Lexia.