Ganton School

Reading & Phonics


At Ganton School we recognise that reading is an essential life skill. With this in mind, we have the aspiration that all of our pupils will leave us with some functional reading ability, regardless of their needs or abilities. Given the severe and complex learning needs of our pupils and the challenges all face on a day to day basis, we appreciate that ‘Reading' may look different for each student. Never the less, at Ganton we strive for each pupil to achieve their full Reading potential!   

At the heart of our strategy is a drive to foster a love of reading, we do this by enriching children’s learning through carefully designed teaching activities that utilise imaginative stories and thought provoking texts. For our sensory explorers this will involve interactive sensory stories and for those preparing and planning for independence this will mean harnessing a love for reading and being able to read for a purpose. 

Reading is a skill that enables children to develop their learning across the wider curriculum and lays the foundations for success in future lines of study and employment. It is a key aspect of communication and at its most basic level it is the ability to recognise vital signs and symbols in the environment in which we live. These signs and symbols provide us with important information which can; guide us, inform our choices and help us organise ourselves on a day to day basis. The ability to do this is imperative for our students.

We recognise the importance of taking a consistent whole school approach to the teaching of reading in order to ensure all pupils have the same opportunities and are challenged to achieve their maximum potential. All pupils access phonics from Phase 1 and, where appropriate, then go on to access a systematic synthetic phonics program of study from Phase 2 (Rocket Phonics). The aim of this is to create confident, independent readers as quickly as possible that can not only read for a purpose but can enjoy reading for pleasure also.

As pupils progress through the school, reading gradually takes on more of a 'real world' element, in KS5 reading in the community is a huge focus as we aim to equip the students with the skills needed to help them complete everyday tasks and overcome everyday problems as they live as adults in their communities. At Ganton we have high expectations of all of our pupils and we encourage each and every one to challenge themselves, persistently promoting resilience over reliance in order to create confident, independent young people by the time they leave us for their next destination. 

Reading Curriculum intent: Life through a Lens 

Reading curriculum pathway 1

Pupils in this pathway will experience a reading curriculum which uncovers the real joy of reading and listening to stories; stories which can provide an exciting, enriching sensory experience are carefully chosen to fit in with the thematic approach across the school. Functional reading for this cohort involves recognising objects, photographs, signs and symbols that represent essential everyday places, items or objects. This enables pupils in this pathway to make informed choices and decisions, allowing them to exact some control over what happens to them in their day to day life.


Reading curriculum Pathway 2:

Pupils in this pathway will experience a wide range of enriching stories and thought provoking texts which fit in with the thematic approach across the school. These stories will help to foster a love of reading. Pupils will be given the tools to be able to gain information from a story or common non-fiction text such as a recipe or set of basic instructions, often the text will need to be supported by visual prompts to aid with understanding. Pupils in this pathway will access a systematic synthetic phonics program of study to teach them the skill of using their phonetic knowledge to decode words and recognise common exception words meaning they have some functional reading ability and are able to utilise this in their learning across the wider curriculum and future life.


Reading curriculum Pathway 3:

Similarly, pupils in this pathway will also experience a range of enriching stories and thought provoking texts which coincide with the thematic approach across the school. Pupils will be encouraged to access stories and texts with a level of independence, reading for pleasure and reading for a purpose. Pupils in this pathway will access a systematic synthetic phonics program of study with the purpose of becoming confident, independent readers by the end of Key stage 4 at the latest. Pupils in this pathway will be able to read for a purpose and will have lots of opportunities to put their reading skills to use in practical situations to promote life skills and independence. Their reading skills will support their learning across the wider curriculum and enhance their opportunities for future lines of study and employment.

Click here for a summary of the DfE Reading Framework


At Ganton, we want to give all of our learners the opportunity to become independent readers. The best way to teach young people to read is through phonics and the use of a systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) program of study. This is to ensure all of our learners are receiving first class phonics teaching from the moment they arrive at the school until they are independent readers. Due to the severe and complex learning needs of our pupils we recognise that this is not possible for all of our students, however, we have high aspirations for all students and strive to ensure all have the same opportunities to become independent readers where they are capable of this. 

Our chosen SSP is Rising Stars: Rocket Phonics. We chose Rocket phonics because of its user friendly platform, colourful supporting resources and the imaginative books and stories which support each step of the program. Where appropriate, pupils access phonics teaching on a daily basis with pupils progress in phonics being tracked half termly. The pace of learning differs dependant on each individual however it is reasonable to expect that most pupils participating in the phonics program of study will learn between 1 and 2 Phonetic sounds per week. Learning may need to be re-visited depending upon its success. 

The program comes with a wide range of fully decodable Rocket phonics reading books that have been designed to appeal to the tastes and interests of children who are starting out on their reading journey. They include a variety of fiction and non-fiction, and have been carefully devised to provide practice and application of phonics knowledge and skills in full alignment with the programme. These books also are used in class guided reading sessions to further embed the skills acquired within phonics sessions. 

Those pupils not yet accessing Phonics at Phase 2 and above experience Phase 1 phonics where the emphasis is on pre-reading skills and exploring different aspects of sound. The 7 aspects of sound; environmental, instrumental, body percussion, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and oral blending and segmenting are the core focus within this. Pupils will experience exciting, immersive sessions which promote all aspects of early reading with the hope that, when ready, they will progress onto the more formal element of phonics (Phase 2 and above). 

 What is Rocket Phonics? Click here for more information.