Reading and Phonics
Phonics at school
At St Simon of England R.C Primary School phonics is taught daily to all children in Reception and Key Stage One.
At St Simon of England R C Primary school, we value reading as a crucial life skill. We believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers, equipped with the tools to confidently decode and encode unfamiliar vocabulary.
By the time children leave us, they read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure and purpose.
To achieve this, we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in Reception and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.
Our teaching team are highly skilled at teaching phonics and reading, and everyone teaches with fidelity to the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
Modelling the application of the alphabetic code in discrete phonics lessons and in shared reading and writing across the curriculum.
Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
- We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-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 2 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 Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
- Children in year 2 revise and consolidate phase 5 GPCS in term 1. Most pupils will then exit the programme.
Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read
- Any child 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 or 3 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 Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Keep-up resources – at pace.
Reading at school
We want our children to become enthusiastic, engaged readers and to develop a life-long love of books. We introduce the children to a range of good quality fiction, non-fiction and poetry books through our whole-class, core-text approach to teaching reading, and during their weekly guided reading sessions.
In the early stages of reading, we teach children to decode words using phonic skills as their main approach, alongside which we teach sight vocabulary. Once grasped, the focus for developing reading is on understanding and comprehension. Your child will read with their class teacher at least once a week during their guided reading session, then independently supported by teacher set activities during the rest of the week.
At Ks 1 We use the Little Wandle Practice reading books.
Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week
- We teach children to read through reading practice sessions twice a 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 4. 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 Year 2 and 3, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.
- The decodable reading practice book is taken home to ensure success is shared with the family.
- Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to children.
- We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised parents’ resources to engage our families and share information about phonics, the benefits of sharing books, how children learn to blend and other aspects of our provision, both online and through workshops.
Ensuring consistency and pace of progress
- Every teacher in our school has been trained to teach reading, so we have the same expectations of progress. We all use the same language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.
- Weekly content grids map each element of new learning to each day, week and term for the duration of the programme.
- Lesson templates, Prompt cards and How to videos ensure teachers all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.
In Key Stage 2 we use the Accelerated Reader Programme which has the facility for parents and teachers to monitor how their children are doing in reading using an online portal. For teachers this has the added benefit of diagnostic software which allows us to personalize and specifically target pupils reading resources and materials.
In Accelerated Reader the books that children have access to are carefully banded and once a child has completed a book they take part in an online quiz that shows how well children have comprehended the book they have read.
Our school librarian and teaching staff can then use the Accelerated Reader diagnostic software and reports to guide pupils to choosing a book that will further help develop their reading.
Reading at home
Please encourage your child to change their book regularly so they can read each evening; speak to the class teacher if this is not happening. Parents can also monitor how their children are progressing through their children’s online portal and/or Accelerated Reader.
Your child should be reading at home for 15 minutes or more each day. Your support is hugely important for developing their reading skills, confidence and understanding. Even if your child is a free reader, it is still important for you to read with them, listen to them and discuss the books they are reading.
How to support developing readers at home:
Try to listen to and read with your child regularly, 10 minutes a day is better than a longer session once a week. It can help if a regular time is set aside so that it becomes part of a routine.
Find a quiet place to share books where you can feel comfortable and relaxed – learning to read needs to be a positive experience - build their confidence by praising their efforts.
Encourage your child to have a go at reading words, by using phonic skills to read any unfamiliar words, and by working on building up their sight vocabulary.
Talk about the meanings of words to help to develop your child’s understanding and use of language.
Encourage your child to read a range of texts such as stories, newspapers, comics, labels, poetry, non-fiction, tickets, signs, leaflets etc.
Read books to your child as well; if they see you enjoying a book it will encourage and motivate them to want to learn to read.
Ask them questions about the text to develop their understanding.
Questions to Develop Understanding:
Where/when does the story take place?
Who are the characters in the story?
What happens in this part of the story?
Tell me one/two things that the main character does in this part of the story?
Can you retell the story using your own words?
Tell me what this character was like?
Tell me the most interesting/ exciting/ funniest/ your favourite part of the story? Why?
What do you think the character feels about...? How can you tell?
What do you think would have happened if…?
What do you think is going to happen next?
Which part of this book did you like best/least? Why?
How has the author used words/phrases to make this character funny/ sad/ clever/ frightening/ excited etc?
Why is … a good title for this story/book/chapter/play?
Do you know any more stories like this? Tell me how they are alike.
Do you know another story with similar characters in? Tell me how they are similar?
What do you think this story is trying to tell us?
Has anything like this ever happened to you
Non Fiction Questions
Tell me two things you found out that you didn’t know before?
What does this part of the text tell us about ….?
Which part of the text tells us about …?
Why are some words in bold?
How does this text/ layout help the reader?
How does (a diagram/picture/caption) help you to understand the information on this page?
If you have any questions or would like any further support please come and speak to your child’s class teacher.