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Phonics & Early Reading

INTENT – Phonics and Early Reading

The teaching of Phonics and Early Reading at our school aims to give all children a strong grasp of the phonetic code alongside developing a pleasure and pride in reading. We are dedicated to ensuring all children reach their full potential and beyond. Reading is an imperative skill needed to succeed in life in some many ways; not only does it enable to children to access a wider curriculum at a deeper level but also provides an essential tool for future learning. Success and enjoyment in reading has a huge impact on children’s self-esteem and future life chances.

At Hunton and Arrathorne, we follow a robust phonics programme, ‘Letters & Sounds.’

EYFS and KS1 children follow our ambitious schedule which introduces new Grapheme-Phoneme Correspondences (GPC) and Common Exception Words (CEW) at pace. Through regular, systematic and consistent high quality phonics teaching, children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read words. They are taught to read and spell CEW.

We aim for children to read and write words and simple sentences by the end of Reception, become successful, fluent readers by the end of Key Stage 1 and develop a lasting love of reading as they move through school.

IMPLEMENTATION – Rationale

We want our children to be excited by words, vocabulary and the sound patterns which are the building blocks of our language! As a result, we place a high level importance on the teaching of Phonics and Early Reading.

Our curriculum is carefully organised , following a detailed plan to ensure our children receive their full entitlement to the ‘Letters & Sounds’ programme as well as further GPCs stated within the National Curriculum. Phonic sessions are taught to an entire year group at a time. New learning is always introduced by a teacher first. TA led sessions focus on further practise and application of skills.

Lessons follow the ‘sequence of teaching in a discrete phonics session’ as outlined in Letters and Sounds.

  • Revisit and review
  • Teach
  • Practise
  • Apply
  • Assess

Phonic sessions are approached in a lively and engaging multi-sensory way enabling children to find a ‘hook’ for their new knowledge. Initially new GPC are enhanced with songs, rhymes and actions, even food! Phase 2 and 3 GPCs are presented using a mnemonic which are adopted for use until the point at which children no longer need these scaffolds. Phase 5 alternative sounds are enhanced with raps to support recall and spelling. ‘Best Guesses’ are encouraged when learning to choose the correct alternative sound to spell.

High Frequency Words are broken down into ‘decodable’ words and ‘tricky’ words within Letters and Sounds. Decodable words are taught by segmenting and blending. With respect to ‘tricky’ words, also known as Common Exception Words within National Curriculum, we refer to them as ‘fishy’ words. We have developed a glossary of common language and resources which is used throughout school to ensure consistency amongst children and staff.

FS2 and KS1 children are assessed formatively from session to session according to their participation and responses. Summative assessment is used to monitor overall recall of sounds and words. Assessment includes reading and writing GPCs taught in isolation and their use in phonetically decodable words and reading and spelling CEWs taught. Attainment is tracked to show progression in phases throughout the academic year. In addition, Year 1 children take part in a half termly ‘Phonics Screening’ diagnostic test in order to support next steps in learning leading up to the national Phonics Screening Check.

We recognise that at times children may need support to ‘keep up’ with new learning. This support is provided either through instant, responsive adult led activities or through planned support ranging from short bursts of specific teaching to a longer lasting focus. Need for support may be identified after summative assessment or in response to immediate daily performance in a task. Our main focus is on ‘keeping up’ rather than ‘catching up.’

In some cases, children may not have embedded the application of all phonics taught before progressing to KS2. Children who are identified to be within the lowest 20% are provided with additional support, including daily ‘Rapid reader’ sessions which incorporate reading texts and working on gaps in their phonic knowledge.

Schemed reading books include Oxford Reading Tree, Big Cat and Pearson Phonic Bug. Our collection of resources for learning to read is also supported by phase 1 games, word strips and caption booklets. We ensure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing phonic knowledge. In EYFS and Year 1, children take home a reading book that corresponds with phonetic content that they have already been taught. Reading books are organised within a time scale which matches our teaching schedule. Once children reach a secure ability in Phase Five, children are able to progress to non-decodable books. There is no restraint placed on reading progress due to age/key stage. “Within each key stage, schools therefore have flexibility to introduce content earlier or later than set out in the programme of study. In addition, schools can introduce key stage content during an earlier stage if appropriate.” NC, p18.

Home-school partnerships are vitally important in supporting young children in their Phonics and Early Reading journey. We highly value the difference that parents/carers can make to their child’s progress. Fs2 children receive a ‘phonic book’ to build up a collection of GPC mnemonics and CEWs which move between home and school. Year 1 children receive weekly alternative GPCs to add to their ‘phonic book.’

IMPACT

We aim for all of our children to be lifelong readers, seeking out books for pleasure, escapism and fuelling their thirst for knowledge.

Through the quality teaching of systematic phonics, our children will become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school.

Attainment in reading is measured using the statutory assessments at the end of Key Stage One and Two. These results are measured against the reading attainment of children nationally. Attainment in phonics is measured by the Phonics Screening Check at the end of Year 1. However, we firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments.