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Reading and Phonics

Phonics at Orchard

As a school, we are very excited about the implementation of our new DfE approved scheme for phonics: Monster Phonics. This new approach to the teaching of phonics offers a clearly defined sequence of learning whilst the simultaneous use of different senses provides multisensory activities. Monster Phonics adds colour and context to this curriculum area in order to move phonics from the abstract to the real, allowing children to deepen their understanding of how to break up words and understand the code from written to spoken and vice versa. 

Through their lessons, the children will meet and become familiar with a total of 10 monsters:

  • Angry Red A
  • Green Froggy
  • Yellow I
  • Miss Oh No
  • U-Hoo
  • Cool Blue
  • Brown Owl
  • Silent Ghosts
  • Black Cats
  • Tricky Witch

Children in EYFS and KS1 have daily, targeted phonics lessons and their progress is assessed regularly. Our trained staff use this information to plan for and deliver additional intervention sessions so that misconceptions can be addressed and further practice can be offered where required. Children are spilt across a year group to ensure specific, targeted phonics learning is delivered to every child.

We are also beginning to implement the Monster Phonics reading scheme, where the familiar monsters feature in their own stories. Children will bring these reading books home to practise and be regularly assessed in school so that they can progress through the levels. 

Once children have completed our phonics programme, reading remains at the heart of our curriculum. Reading is taught in a variety of ways including guided reading sessions, comprehension lessons as well as specific targeted intervention work. 

All children, across the key stages, read regularly at school and are encouraged to continue this avid reading at home. Whilst children make their way through the colour banded reading levels, books are correctly matched to their current phase of phonological learning and reviewed by experienced members of staff regularly. On the completion of the coloured levels, children progress to ‘free reader’ status which allows them to choose books carefully matched to their age-related standard, both appropriate in structure and content.

Phonics continues into Key Stage 2 where the children carry their phonological learning on through weekly spellings. Children who have struggled to achieve the phonics screening check at Year 1 and Year 2 have targeted support for phonics. This usually takes the form of small group intervention, working specifically on the gaps in their understanding.

To find out more about Monster Phonics please speak to your child’s class teacher or visit

Love of Reading

To develop the love of reading, the school implements the Trust wide initiative of ‘Reading Passports’. Each child has their own reading passport with books targeted at their chronological age ability. The children are encouraged to access these books, available in school, and read them at home with parents; talk to your children about these books as well as their school reading book to support comprehension and understanding. We reward the children with certificates and medals as they progress through their reading passports. Once a child completes their passport, they then can enjoy reading the books on each year group’s elite reader list. The passports and elite readers can be found on this page. 

We also encourage you and your child to visit the local library and sign up if you have not done so already. Having the opportunity to discuss and share different books with your child as well as sharing your enjoyment of reading really helps your child develop their love of reading.

Reading at Home

Reading to your child is just as important as your child reading themselves. This enables opportunities for discussion about story events, new facts and understanding meanings of unfamiliar vocabulary.

Banded Books

Children, who are reading books provided by school, have access to targeted books aligned with their phonological awareness and stage of learning. The books have been carefully banded to ensure progression and allows children to develop specific phonic skills at an appropriate level.

Free Readers

Once a child has demonstrated the skills required to access a wider range of reading books, they then become free readers; staff in school continue to support with book choices and listen to children read.

Class Reader

Each class has a class reader, often linked to an aspect of the curriculum, where the children have a chance to hear well modelled reading aloud by adults in school.

Guided Reading (Reading Dogs)

Daily guided reading sessions, delivered in groups, supports children in their confidence and ability with reading aloud as well as their comprehension. To support children with remembering the different aspects of comprehension, the school uses ‘Reading Dogs’. There are six dog relating to the skills needed to read and comprehend texts and these are used by adults in school when reading with the children. 

These dogs are:

  • Vocabulary Victor – helps children work out the meaning of words.
  • Retriever Rex– helps children go into a text a retrieve the key facts and details.
  • Summarising Sheba – helps children to summarise the main points of the paragraph or text.
  • Inference Iggy – Helps children hunt for clues in a text about what is happening or how someone might feel.
  • Predicting Pip – helps children see the future and work out what might happen next from the clues in the text.
  • Commentator Cassie – helps children discuss the content of a paragraph or text and compares events and characters.

You can use these dogs at home when reading with your child. On this page you will find some example questions for each of the dogs you may want to ask your child when sharing their reading book at home.


As part of morning work, children have opportunities to access reading a variety of texts with related comprehension activities. Children can apply the skills learnt in guided reading and reading at home to provide detail answers and show a good understanding of the text.

Fiction and Non-Fiction TextsWhere possible high quality texts, including fiction and non-fiction, are used as stimuli, starting points or hooks for our theme lessons. Children have access to fiction books located in their classrooms as well as specific non-fiction texts linked to their themes. In addition, the school has a non-fiction library for children to access in order to broaden their understanding and interest in different areas.

Targeted Interventions

Where a child is identified as needing additional support with their reading the school offers a variety of approaches. Additional 1:1 or small group reading, small group comprehension skills, phonic sessions, recovery school led tuition (where appropriate), interventions derived from specific gaps in learning and in class intervention are all strategies Orchard uses to help children develop their confidence and ability with reading.

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