Ambleside Phonics

Please see below our first online phonics video presented by Mrs Shepard. In this video we cover the AI sounds.

Please see below the second online phonics video presented by Mrs Shepard. In this video, we cover the AY sounds.

Please see below the third online phonics video presented by Mrs Shepard. In this video, we cover the AE sounds.

Please see below the fourth online phonics video presented by Mrs Shepard. In this video, we cover the EA sounds.

Please see below the fifth online phonics video presented by Mrs Shepard. In this video, we cover the EE sounds.

Please see below, Ambleside’s very own Miss Farmer as she goes on a bear hunt in her garden.

Please see below the sixth online phonics video presented by Mrs Shepard. In this video, we cover the E-E sounds.

Please see below the seventh online phonics video presented by Mrs Shepard. In this video, we cover the y sounds.

Synthetic Phonics

The primary approach to teaching pupils to read at Ambleside Primary school is through the systematic teaching of synthetic phonics. The ‘Letters and Sounds’ six-phase programme is used as a time-bonded, structured programme which introduces pupils to phonemes and graphemes in specific order within the context of a language-rich curriculum. Effective teaching using ‘Letters and Sounds’ enables pupils to see the relationship between reading and spelling from an early stage, such that the teaching of one reinforces understanding of the other. Decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling) are treated as reversible processes.

Initial teaching of the programme is rooted within widely accepted best practice for the Early Years Foundation Stage in which pupils’ speaking and listening skills are prioritised. At Ambleside we believe that the more words the pupils know and understand, the better equipped they are to succeed in reading and learning overall.
The six-phase structure of ‘Letters and Sounds’ provides a useful map from which to plan pupils’ progress, the pace of which is guided by assessments of pupils’ developing knowledge and skills. Pupils are ability-grouped within classes for daily phonics sessions to ensure they are taught at an appropriate pitch. Teachers assess pupils regularly and where pupils are judged to have fallen off trajectory, rapid intervention (through additional small group teaching sessions) ensues, to help them catch up with their peers. The aim is that by the end of Year 1 the teaching of phonics should be substantially complete, with word structures and patterns learnt during Year 2, and securing teaching and learning in spelling continuing throughout Key Stage 2.

Pupils’ phonics ability is tested at the end of Year 1, using the statutory Phonics Screening Check. Pupils who do not reach the threshold receive intervention and are tested again at the end of Year 2. Results are reported to parents.

Enjoying Books

At Ambleside Primary School we aim to foster a love of books and of reading. We value books and reading so both have a high priority. Pupils encounter books through shared, guided and independent reading, through weekly class library sessions, through reading research within foundation subject areas and through general reading to gather information both at school and at home. Pupils read in groups, on their own, with teachers and teaching assistants, with families, with buddies and with Reading Volunteers.

We choose not to limit pupils to following a single reading scheme but recognise the importance of pupils applying their developing reading skills through reading books which are appropriately pitched. Teachers therefore help pupils select books which are appropriate for their reading ability using the ‘Book Bands’ system which is applied to books in school. ‘Book Banding’ is a method of grading the reading level of a book. The bands enable the books to be graded from the simplest texts suitable for very early readers through to texts for fluent readers. Each band is given a colour and the appropriate coloured label is stuck to the book. A range of reading scheme books, picture story books and non-fiction books from different publishers can thus be graded so pupils can select from a wide range according to their interest, knowing that the book will not be too easy or too hard due to its colour sticker. Early readers will practise their blending skills using phonetically decodeable texts selected by their teacher and also enjoy picture story books which they have selected from the school library.

Pupils in all year groups regularly hear stories read aloud and we try to ensure we keep up to date with the best quality children’s texts. Authors visit school regularly, sharing their skills and enthusiasm and helping Ambleside pupils see the processes involved in creating books.
Teachers share their love of books with pupils through talking to each other and to pupils about what they are reading themselves and through taking every opportunity to express and promote the importance of reading in their lives. We agree that you can’t teach reading for pleasure, you have to share it.
You can find great resources for reading at the Oxford Owl Website – here you can read from the screen or have a story read to you!

Ambleside Primary School is a Reading School

Our Ambleside Reading Characters

At our academy we think that it is paramount to equip our children with the key reading skills that they will need to make super progress in reading. To try to help the children learn these we have invented a character that is amazing at doing each skill to help the children remember, use and be able to talk about the reading skills that each focused character is skilful at.
Below are our reading characters.

In our school we teach reading every day. We believe that children should be introduced to a skill (through use of our reading characters) and that staff should follow a clear teaching sequence of Revisit, Teach, Practise, Apply within each reading session.

The text chosen should be pitched at the correct reading ability level for the children within the class and should include common exception words that groups of children need to know next in order to make next steps of progress.

Our teachers use texts that are exciting and engaging and are topic related linked to the topic theme that they are teaching. We believe that sessions should be clearly differentiated and that adults should be used to deliver skills that are suited to individual pupil needs in reading.

Our Approach to improving the quality of Teaching, Learning and Assessment within phonics at Ambleside Academy

The Phenomenal Phonics Programme 

At our Academy we follow the Phenomenal Phonics Programme. This is our own programme which follows a synthetic, systematic approach explicitly teaching the correspondence between letters and sounds to segment for spelling and blend for reading.

Whilst Phenomenal Phonics follow the phases set out below, our bespoke approach is driven by high quality assessment half termly which informs next steps of learning to ensure that our children demonstrate good progress in the number of sounds that they know and words that they can read.

Our Approach

At Ambleside Academy we believe that all children should become competent and confident readers and that early readers are entitled to daily rigorous phonics sessions which are comprehensive, systematic and have a clear and consistent structure. At our Academy we teach a synthetic phonics approach to reading, where children learn to decode (read) and encode (spell) printed words quickly and fluently by blending and segmenting letter sounds. Our teaching and learning approach at Ambleside with regards to phonics is simple, fun and effective which means that our children are targetedmat the sounds that they need next in order to make progress. We do ensure that links are made to the National Curriculum expectations in terms of the letter and sounds that children are expected to cover.

We support the children’s application of phonics to their reading by using both Phonics reading books and ‘Oxford Reading Tree’ phonics readers in school and to send home, until children are able to read with fluency and apply their knowledge of all the letter/sound patterns taught.  Children who are just beginning to learn the letter/sound correspondences are learning at the same time to tell stories using books which do not have words to begin with.  This is crucial in the development of spoken language and vocabulary. It is a necessary stepping stone towards becoming an accomplished reader and writer.


Our vision for teaching early reading at Ambleside Academy and the environment

We believe that the environment at Ambleside should be rich in letters, sound, logos and familiar print of which our children experience in daily life and in the local environment. The children should be able to recognise the letters within their name. They should be engaged in effective learning whereby they partake in listening games, shared reading and use of postboxes to encourage them to identify familiar letters in familiar words and sounds that they hear. It is our belief that children should be engaged in skywriting, exploration of exciting and stimulating contexts for reading words with purposes for learning.

In Foundation 2 the children in our school engage in formal phonics sessions whereby children are taught to segment and blend words and apply their learning for reading decodable and tricky words. The ultimate aim being for children to achieve fluent word recognition. We use robot talk to help our children improve their segmenting and blending skills, whilst having fun.

How often phonics is taught at our Academy

At our Academy we teach two phonics sessions daily to maximise the number of words that the children can read within a day. Our children that need to make accelerated progress will also complete intervention on an afternoon to further maximise the number of sounds that they know.

In places in school where additional support is required, adults will be used to boost children in addition to their usual phonics sessions, on a morning and get them using really fun, practical and hands on equipment.

How do we increase the number of sounds that the children know and can read within words?

At our academy we follow a clear and consistent approach to ensure that children make good progress in phonics. At the start of each academic year we baseline our children using the most current screening test for phonics. This gives a baseline to show the number of words that a child can segment and blend for reading. This phonics screening check is then used to inform the next steps of learning and sounds that individual children need to know next to ensure that they make more progress and increase the number of sounds that they know. Children are exposed to mock screening tests on a half termly basis and these tests inform the next phonics group that a child needs to be in as well as the intervention group that the child needs to be in to make next steps of progress, informing adults of the next group of sounds that they need to learn next to make further progress.

When does the phonics screening test formally take place?

At the end of the academic year (In June) the children in Year 1 undertake the National Phonics Screening Check, which is on a pass or fail basis. This test includes 40 words for the children to read, 20 are real and 20 are pseudo words (not real). 32 is the expected pass rate for this test. If children do not pass their year 1 phonics screen in year 1, they will need to retake this in year 2 and they will need to try and ensure that they pass.

What is the structure of a phonics session at Ambleside Academy?


This is the most crucial stage in the phonics session that keeps the children revisiting sounds that they have previously covered but need to be able to use and apply at word level to help them remember and apply the reading of sounds that they have learned previously within phonics throughout the year.


This is where the new sound is introduced. The children will be encouraged to skywrite (reinforcing correct formation of handwriting) segmenting and blending to use robot when reading at word level.


See if the children can read the new words with them and segment and blend with support.


Children to read a range of words on their own and a sentence, including words within a sentence for reading/ writing.

Engaging Parents

Our families support pupils by reading with or to them each day, either after or before school, and signing their reading diaries. They are informed about pupils’ reading levels and of course attend Parents’ Evenings and school events to find out about the reading curriculum.

The Oxford Owl website is linked to our school website so that a range of texts can be accessed to read on line at all times.

When classes have studied a key text as an extended literacy unit, our parents have surpassed themselves with the creative homework projects which they have completed with their children! For example, large models of the ‘Peggy Sue’ were constructed during the Year 6 work on Kensuke’s Kingdom and not only were costumes created for Year 4’s ‘I Was a Rat!’ day but also 100 family members turned up to watch their performance.

Parents supported the Year 5 team in the Question of Sport, inter-school quiz previously mentioned and this year we plan to build on this by hosting a ‘Dads and Lads’ quiz night which has reading research as its theme and celebrates parents and children enjoying reading together.

We know that we can do more to inform parents about and involve parents in reading for pleasure, so we use termly stakeholder surveys to stay updated on parents’ views and always aim for improvement in the way in which we respond.

Moving Forward

With greater involvement of parents high on the list, and inviting pupils to be ‘Reading Champions’ who promote reading , we know that to become an outstanding reading school we must do all of the above and more.

We await with bated breath the results of Year 3’s ‘Text Factor’ as another opportunity for pupils to make decisions about the reading materials which we select for school and will continue to elicit the views of pupils in shaping our reading provision and strengthening our schools’ reading culture.

Raising pupils’ attainment in reading is a priority for every member of the school staff as is developing a love of reading. In the knowledge that excellence and enjoyment are reciprocal processes, we strive to enhance and support children’s reading, so Ambleside pupils love to read because they can read.

Ambleside Primary School