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Cotgrave Candleby

Lane School

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Early Reading and Phonics

Phonics - No Nonsense Phonics Skills

The No Nonsense Phonics Skills programme provides a comprehensive step-by-step method for teaching reading, handwriting and spelling. Author, Debbie Hepplewhite, guides the teacher, and consequently the children, through a series of carefully designed phonics routines to master the complex English Alphabetic Code.


Each book is rich in content, providing phonics instruction and exercises with cumulative code, words and meaningful texts. The children will develop their language comprehension and build up their knowledge of new vocabulary and spelling word banks. High-frequency words, tricky words and additional letter/s-sound correspondences are all drip-fed into the teaching and learning sequence. Mini stories throughout the books bring all the different strands of the programme together.


No Nonsense Phonics Skills

  • Provides systematic and rigorous phonics teaching and practice with a rich vocabulary.
  • Teaches handwriting linked to the English Alphabetic Code and the Alphabet.
  • Applies and extends phonics to reading and writing, developing language comprehension and evoking imagination.
  • Involves and engages the learner fully and routinely in formative assessment.

Throughout Early years and Key stage One, phonics is taught in a systematic way following the No Nonsense Phonics validated programme. It aims to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting in Nursery with the aim that all children will be readers by age Seven. The dedicated phonics programme works alongside the decodable books which allow pupils to apply and practise their phonic knowledge.

There are nine phases that children will experience throughout the programme.


In Nursery, the children experience 2 adult guided phase one focused sessions per week. They are also immersed into an environment where they have access to a variety of activities that focus on all the skills outlined in the phase one document. An example of these are singing sessions, stories or music sessions.


In Reception, children experience a taught daily phonics session 5 times a week as well as being immersed in phonics throughout other subjects. We teach two new phonemes (letter sounds) per week and have a focus on reading the sound one day and practising the grapheme (written letter) the next day. Alongside this, we incorporate high frequency words (tricky words) in which we learn to read and recognise them.


In Key Stage One, the children have a taught daily phonics lesson 5 days a week. These sessions are in small groups and follow the No Nonsense Phonics Skills program of learning. The No Nonsense Phonics Skills program provides daily progression and ensures children are able to build on prior learning each week. The children are introduced to a number of new graphemes alongside high frequency and common exception words (tricky words) that they are encouraged to both read and write in a variety of different ways. 

We strive to create fluent, able readers who are confident and show a love of reading. To help us to achieve this, we use decodable reading books throughout EYFS and Key stage 1. These are closely aligned to the No Nonsense Phonics lessons that are delivered daily and are designed to allow children to read using the sounds and phonemes that they already know. When a child reads, if they struggle over decoding words, then comprehension is lost. The decodable books allow pupils to practise the sounds that they already know whilst building confidence, understanding and fluency. Through reading these, all children achieve success and this in turn builds enthusiasm and a love of reading. The books are a combination of fiction, non-fiction and poetry to allow pupils to a wide range of genres and to broaden their reading library.


Around the end of Key stage 1 (or once they have finished the decodable reading scheme), pupils move the book banding system. Following a half-termly assessment based on their fluency and comprehension skills, each pupil is allocated a colour band and they self-select books from within this colour to read at home, with key comprehension skills being taught and developed through daily whole class guided reading sessions. Pupils are assessed regularly to track their progress through the colour bands- the aim being to be a ‘free reader’ by the end of key stage 2 and skilled enough to choose and confidently access any book they wish.  

Alongside the decodable and book band texts, pupils self-select a book, which they choose purely for pleasure. This could be a book that is a little too hard, a little too easy, or just right. This aims to develop the love of reading but also enables pupils to widen their vocabulary and understanding of different texts. Pupils can self-select from mini libraries for their key stage as well as the classroom book corners, where there is a wide range of genres including fiction books, comics, and graphic novels, as well as non-fiction books, magazines and newspapers.

Year 1 Phonics Screening

This video will provide more information about the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check Assessment.