Reading and Phonics


Learning to read is one of the most important things your child will learn to do. Everything else depends on it, so we put as much energy as we possibly can into making sure that every single child learns to become a confident and competent reader. We want all the children at the academy to love reading.

In the early stages of their reading, pupils are introduced to the Oxford Reading Tree (ORT) scheme. Later on, Accelerated Reader is used for monitoring independent reading practice while promoting reading for pleasure. Using information generated by the software, teachers can help students select books that are difficult enough to keep them challenged, but not too difficult to cause frustration.

The Library Facilities

Following an application to the Foyle Foundation and through a number of fundraising activities, Birstall Primary Academy was able to open its own library in September 2018. The library stocks a wide range of books that pupils are able to access daily. Birstall Primary Academy uses the library management system, “readingcloud” to help promote good reading habits and  manage reading throughout your school.

The Teaching and Learning of Phonics

The Children in Early Years and Key Stage 1 are taught phonic knowledge and skills through a programme called Jolly Phonics. Jolly Phonics is a fun and motivating, child-centered approach to the teaching and learning of phonics. With actions for each of the 42 letter sounds, the multi-sensory method enables children to learn through story, actions and songs.

Using a synthetic phonics approach, Jolly Phonics teaches children the five key skills for reading and writing. These are:

  1. Learning the letter sounds

Children are taught the 42 main letter sounds. This includes alphabet sounds as well as digraphs such as sh, th, ai and ue.

  1. Learning letter formation

Using different multi-sensory methods, children learn how to form and write the letters.

  1. Blending

Children are taught how to blend the sounds together to read and write new words.

  1. Identifying the sounds in words (Segmenting)

Listening for the sounds in words gives children the best start for improving spelling.

  1. Tricky words

Tricky words have irregular spellings and children learn these separately.


Year 1 Phonics Screening Test

At the end of the summer term, children in year 1 sit a statuary phonics screening test. During this test, the children’s phonic knowledge and skills are tested. The table below shows the percentage of children in year 1 that passed the screening test at Birstall Primary Academy and also nationally over two years.

2016 2017 2018

% of children that passed the year 1 phonics screening test at BPA




% of children that passed the year 1 phonics screening test nationally 80.6% 81.4%


These results clearly demonstrate the impact that the teaching and learning of phonics has for our children at Birstall Primary Academy.


Letter Sound Order
The sounds are taught in a specific order (not alphabetically). Here are some resources that parents can begin to use at home:

Jolly Phonics Presentation_049

Jolly Phonics Presentation_050

Jolly Phonics Presentation_051