Confidence in KS2 reading: how to transition from teaching phonics to KS2

For some teachers, there’s a certain mystery around teaching KS2 reading, and the transition over from phonics at KS1. 

In this post we’re aiming to explore this from a slightly different perspective and rather than framing it as transitioning away from phonics, think in terms of how to tie phonics into a KS2 context and really cement the lessons learned in KS1.

KS2 reading: top 5 tips for tying phonics into the process

All learners will be at different stages of reading ability and phonics understanding when entering KS2. Using it successfully at KS2 will underpin much of what you teach, from reading to spelling and writing.

Tip 1: familiarise yourself with your KS1 system

You may already be familiar with the phonics system, but if not, spending some time getting to grips with it will pay huge dividends. Teaching phonics benefits from consistency across the school and will mean that both you and your learners are (literally) reading from the same page!

Tip 2: mind the gap!

Finding the gaps between pupils’ phonic levels using a phonics assessment will give you an instant overview of the situation. From this you can see what level of support is needed for different clusters of learners and simplify the process of identifying exactly what you need to teach and to whom.

Tip 3: set up interventions

It’s likely that some learners’ phonics abilities will fall below those of the rest of the class. If so, the best course of action is to get proactive and set up small group interventions. These can be run alongside whole-class English lessons and help make the process smoother for both you and the learners themselves. 

Tip 4: highlight phonics skills

As learners read, encourage them to use their understanding of phonics to decode new and unfamiliar words. Modelling phonics and blending as you read longer words and highlighting familiar graphemes can really aid understanding as you read. Whether in group-based guided reading or whole-class reading, phonics will continue to be essential to your class’s reading practice at KS2.

Tip 5: build phonics into spelling

Building on learners’ phonics knowledge is fundamental to teaching spellings in KS2. As outlined in the national curriculum, ‘phonic knowledge should continue to underpin spelling after key stage 1’. As you teach and recap spellings in KS2, use their phonics knowledge to draw links between different words. Encourage learners to use their phonics knowledge to spell unfamiliar words and teach key graphemes in your spelling slots. 

There are many ways Reading Planet books can assist with the transition to KS2 reading, not least our brilliant Astro series for struggling and reluctant readers. 

Edited by award-winning author, Tony Bradman, these dual-banded reading level books improve reading skills and get learners hooked! Lower reading levels are combined with age-related interest levels to engage learners, plus the first 24 books are highly decodable and ideal for phonics practice and revision. 

For each of our KS2 books, we also offer complete teacher support through Reading Planet Online; an accompanying Comprehension and Vocabulary focused worksheet to develop skills in these areas, a useful summary of each book, highlighted key words to support vocabulary teaching and clearly outlined curriculum coverage.

Can you have a different scheme at KS2?

We understand the importance of making our scheme flexible and allowing our books to blend seamlessly into schools with different schemes in place. 

So yes, even if you have a different scheme in place for KS1, you can mix and match and implement our KS2 right alongside it. 

If you’re interested and would like to find out more about Reading Planet, and perhaps set up a free 30-day trial at your school, you can do so quickly and easily here.

Hamish Baxter is a Senior Commissioning Editor at Hodder Education and is the KS2 lead publisher for Reading Planet.


English, English and Literacy, key stage 1, key stage 2, KS1, ks2, national curriculum, phonics, Reading, reading scheme, Rising Stars Reading Planet

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