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Phonics at our school
Intent (The ‘why’)
“Reading is fundamental. In fact, it is one of the most important ingredients to becoming all that you can be. Reading develops your brain, provides a window into the world around you and helps you do better in all school subjects. Most importantly, reading cannot only help you become a better student, but a better person. You can learn from the brightest people whenever and wherever you choose.” (Michael Stutman)
At Hazeldown, we believe that all children have the right to learn to read and develop a love of reading. We believe all children can become fluent readers and willing writers.
We start teaching phonics in Nursery, where children work on Phase One phonics. Here, children are taught to hear phonemes in spoken words and begin to segment and blend them. In Reception and Key Stage One, we teach reading and writing using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised scheme which ensures children develop a deep understanding of phonemes within the spoken word and master the use of phonics to read and spell words.
As teachers, teaching children to read is one of the most important roles we have. Children who can read have a much better chance in life. As stated in the government’s ‘Reading Framework’ document, reading increases the vocabulary of a child, and hence their chances of success in later life. By the age of five, children who are never read to have heard 4,662 words; when they are read to 1–2 times per week, they have heard 63,570 words; when they are read to 3–5 times per week, they have heard 169,520 words; when they are read to daily, they have heard 296,660 words; and when they are read five books a day, 1,483,300 words. The only effective route to closing this gap is for children to be taught systematically to read as soon as they start school. In this way, they do not have to rely on adults. Children who become engaged in reading can make huge progress in their literacy development simply through their independent reading, whatever the nature of their early experiences.
Our phonics curriculum aims to:
- provide children with a systematic programme, teaching them to recognise and use all the phonemes within our spoken language;
- teach children to read words containing graphemes which they have been taught;
- teach children to write phonetically plausible words containing graphemes which they have been taught;
- teach children to spell words correctly, by making the appropriate grapheme choice when writing;
- teach children to recognise by sight the common exception words in the phonics phase they are working on;
- teach children to write the common exception words in the phonics phase they are working on;
- teach children to use the technical vocabulary associated with phonics;
- provide children with the knowledge and skills to become fluent readers and writers, thus allowing them access to the full curriculum as they move through their education and into adult life.
All pupils are entitled to a progressive and comprehensive reading and writing programme which covers National Curriculum requirements and takes account of individual needs.
Foundations for phonics in Nursery
- We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and language’ and ‘Literacy’. These include:
- sharing high-quality stories and poems;
- learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes;
- activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending;
- attention to high-quality language.
- We ensure Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.
Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
- We teach phonics for thirty minutes each day. In Reception, we build from ten-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
- Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in week two of the Autumn Term.
- We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress:
- Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
- Children in Year 1 review Phases 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
Daily ‘keep-up’ lessons ensure every child learns to read (Keep up – FS and Y1)
- Any child in Reception or Year 1 who needs additional practice has daily ‘keep-up’ support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
- We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 and above who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics Screening Check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the Rapid Catch-up assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Rapid Catch-up resources – at pace.
- These short, sharp lessons last fifteen-twenty minutes daily and have been designed to ensure children quickly catch up to age-related expectations in reading.
Teaching reading: reading practice sessions three times per week
- We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times per week. These:
- are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children;
- use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids on pages 11–20 of ‘Application of phonics to reading’;
- are monitored by the class teacher, who rotates and works with each group on a regular basis.
- Each reading practice session has a clear focus so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:
- prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression;
- comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.
- In Reception, these sessions start in week four. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books.
- In Years 2 and 3, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.