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Mowlem Primary

Reading & Phonics at Mowlem

We aim to provide a learning environment that encourages all children to fully develop their ability to read. The skills that children develop in this area are necessary for all areas of the curriculum and are used throughout the school week. The specific teaching of reading takes place during daily Literacy lessons based on the National Literacy Strategy Framework/Tower Hamlets New Framework Exemplar Plans.

Children also have Guided Reading where the teacher provides support for small groups of readers as they learn to use various reading strategies (context clues, letter and sound relationships, word structure, etc.). Comprehension is also a key aspect of Guided Reading, whereby children develop a deeper understanding of the content they have read through careful and planned questioning.

Individual Reading is also a key aspect of our approach to teaching reading. Targeted children have the opportunity to read one-to-one with an adult. Not unlike Guided Reading, teaching children to use various reading strategies and comprehension are key aspects.

Each class has its own reading area, which we aim to make as inviting and stimulating as possible. Within each reading area there are leveled books that the children can access, as well as books of interest. There are also books available related to the current curriculum topic to extend children’s interest and knowledge.

Children take their reading books home each day to practise their reading skills and share their learning with their families. A home school reading diary is provided for each child so that teachers and parents/carers can communicate about the progress that is being made.



At Mowlem we use THE Partnership Phonics Programme.  This is a systematic synthetic phonics programme based on ‘Letters and Sounds’ which promotes the use of phonics as the prime route to reading unknown words. 


All children receiving phonics instruction read decodable books matched to their phonics knowledge both in school and at home. We use Big Cat, Project X, and Bug Club books for children to take home. 

THE Partnership Phonics Programme is designed for daily teaching sessions (from early in reception) in a clearly defined, incremental sequence.  This sequence enables children to read and spell many words early on.  It progresses from simple to more complex phonic knowledge and skills, cumulatively covering all the major GPCs (grapheme-phoneme correspondences) in English.  This structured route aims for children to meet or exceed the expected standard in the Y1 PSC (Phonics Screening Check) and all national curriculum expectations for word reading through decoding by the end of KS1.

There are four key concepts that we teach to all pupils, these are:

  1. Letters are symbols (spellings) that represent sounds.
  2. A sound may be spelled by one, two, three or four letters:

E.g. dog   street   night   eight

  1. The same sound can be spelled in more than one way:

E.g. rain   acorn   cake   day

  1. Many spellings can represent more than one sound:

E.g. head   seat   break


There are three key skills that we teach to all pupils, these are:

  1. Blending: the ability to push sounds together to build words.
  2. Segmenting: the ability to pull apart the individual sounds in words.
  3. Phoneme manipulation: the ability to insert sounds into and delete sounds out of words. This skill is necessary to test out alternatives for spellings that represent more than one sound


Common exception words:

Common exception words enable children to read texts.  These words are kept at a minimum in the early phases.

 For example:

I           go        to        no        into     the

 The national curriculum refers to these as ‘common exception words’ because they contain grapheme phoneme correspondences that are unusual or have not yet been taught.  Common exception words are built into each phase of the programme, and it is not an expectation that children will be provided with lists of words to learn.


Each lesson is built around direct teaching sessions (revise, hear, read, write, apply), with extensive teacher-child interaction.  Throughout each session, children are expected to actively engage in the learning.  Each lesson involves a multisensory approach (see lesson plan structure).  The lesson structure provides a consistent approach where children get to know what is coming next and minimum time is spent explaining new activities.  The teaching and learning activities are interesting and engaging but firmly focused on intensifying the learning associated with the phonic goal.  Any computer resources used by schools must match the order of GPCs and not be used to replace direct teaching by the teacher.


Assessment is carried out at regular intervals with top-up sessions provided to support children who are at risk of falling behind.


Early Years Literacy     Early Years Literacy