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Phonics and Early Reading at Whitehall Primary

At Whitehall we are driven to ensure that all our children develop as confident fluent readers. We place a huge emphasis in our curriculum on children being taught high quality phonics as the stepping stone into the world of reading. We teach phonics using Letters and Sounds as the basis for the planning of our high quality systematic phonics programme. Where children fall behind in their phonic or reading acquisition they receive targeted support to rapidly close the gap.



Reading Scheme

At Whitehall, we follow a ‘Phonics first’ approach to reading. 

  Children learn to blend sounds in Reception and once the children can blend they are given a phonics book to read at home.  The phonics books are sorted into phases that match the teaching of Phonics.  The children progress through the phonics books and phases and when they are confident and fluent reading at phase 5 (throughout Year 1) they will move to book banded books.  The children will begin on turquoise (level 17) on the book banded books and continue through these.

The reading bookmark below shows the progression through the phonic phases and then onto the book banded books.

 Each phonic phase and book band has a number or colour that reflect progress in reading from early phonics through to fluent, competent reading around the age of 7 or 8. There are also bands beyond this but these are much broader and more about age-appropriateness than reading ability.


Helping our children to become lifelong confident readers

At Whitehall we believe the most important skill for each child to leave primary school with is the ability to read independently and effectively for meaning. We, therefore, provide a curriculum which offers a structured approach to the teaching of reading through discreet reading lessons and embedding this work within our broad and rich curriculum. 

In order for all our children to become successful confident readers, we would like to take this opportunity to remind all parents of the importance of ensuring that their child has their book bag, reading diary and book in school each day. Your child’s reading diary forms a vital link between school and home and enables teachers to let you know how your child is progressing with their reading. The diary also enables parents and carers to communicate with school and let us know that you have heard you child read.

If your child has misplaced their reading diary please let the teacher know and we will get a replacement for your child.

In order to develop our home school reading partnership further we thought it would be helpful to let you know how we as teachers will support your child’s reading in school and how we would appreciate you supporting your child with reading at home:

What teachers will do:

What parents and carers can do:

  • Hear your child read by themselves, once every fortnight, and make a comment in the reading diary when this has happened.
  • Read with your child in a group (guided reading)   each week, and stamp your child’s reading diary with a guided reading stamp.
  • Ensure your child is reading the correct book  level.
  • Change your child’s book regularly.
  • Ensure your child makes good progress.
  • Provide parents with a reading bookmark when your child progresses to the next reading colour. (The bookmarks provide tips to support you with reading at each level.)
  •  If your child is struggling with reading we will provide extra adults to read with them.
  • Make sure your child has a book bag, reading diary and book in school each day.
  • Hear you child read regularly and make a comment in their reading diary when you do (smiley faces and stickers are great to encourage positive attitudes to reading).
  • Discuss what your child has read to help develop their comprehension. Your child will shortly be bringing home a coloured bookmark (according to their colour book  band) with tips to support you reading with your child.


Whitehall’s fantastic reading results are not only because of what the children learn in school. Our pupils become successful readers with a love of books because of the support they get from home through daily opportunities to read and hear stories. We thank our parents, grandparents and carers for that!

Year 1 Phonics and Reading Workshop

Reception Phonics and Early Reading Workshop

Please click on the video below:

The powerpoint video explains our reading and phonics scheme and the strategies we use in school.

Supporting reading at home

As an ECaR (Every Child a Reader) school, we have book banded our books and children progress through the coloured book bands. You will notice that your child's book from school has a coloured tab on it. This indicates the colour they are reading. Children will have their reading level checked frequently by the teacher. When children are confident reading at one level they will be assessed (we call this benchmarking as it is a method of assessing if a child is ready to read the next level book).

To help parents with supporting their children at home we have, as an ECaR team, developed coloured bookmarks which help parents to know what book level children should be reading at for their year group.

Reading Volunteers

We have great partnerships with parents as reading volunteers as well as local businesses. We value the benefit that the reading volunteers bring to our children and are always happy for new people to join our reading volunteer team. If you are interested then please contact the office or Emma Cutmore.

Contact Us

(0117) 377 3087

Whitehall Primary School

Johnsons Lane, Bristol, Avon BS5 9AZ