Phonics and early reading policy
The context of our school
Borden CE Primary is a small school with approximately 140 pupils across 5 mixed age classes. We are an inclusive school and welcoming to children of all abilities and backgrounds. Our school vision, which drives all that we do, ensures that we remain committed to ensuring that all children can and do achieve, in an environment which is supportive of every individual as a unique child of God. It is essential that our approach to teaching phonics and reading is accessible to all learners, regardless of background.
Phonics (reading and spelling)
At Borden CE Primary we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why 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.
As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At Borden CE Primary, we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
At Borden CE Primary, we value reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children leave us, they read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure. Our readers are equipped with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose.
Because we believe teaching every child to read is so important, we have a Reading Leader who drives the early reading programme in our school. This person is highly skilled at teaching phonics and reading, and they monitor and support our reading team, so everyone teaches with fidelity to the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
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.
- Children are taught pure pronunciation of each phoneme.
- Pronouncing Phase 2 sounds 1 Pronouncing Phase 2 sounds 2 Pronouncing Phase 3 Sounds
- 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.
- Here are some useful videos to demonstrate how we teach skills in phonics lessons following the Little Wandle 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.
- If any child in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least three times a week.
Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week
- We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times 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.
Additional reading support for vulnerable children
- Children in Reception and Year 1 who are receiving additional phonics Keep-up sessions read their reading practice book to an adult daily.
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.
- The Reading Leader and SLT use the Audit and Prompt cards to regularly monitor and observe teaching; they use the summative data to identify children who need additional support and gaps in learning.
Ensuring reading for pleasure
‘Reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s success.’ (OECD 2002)
‘The will influences the skill and vice versa.’ (OECD 2010)
We value reading for pleasure highly and work hard as a school to grow our Reading for Pleasure pedagogy.
- We read to children every day. We choose these books carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the children at Borden CE Primary and our local community as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures. We consistently use high quality texts, often linked to the current learning. These texts demonstrate aspirational language and grammatical structure; texts to inspire and enthuse; texts with themes which help the children develop and promote the school’s values as well as ensuring their personal, social, spiritual and emotional needs are met.
- Every classroom has an inviting reading area that encourages a love for reading. We curate these books and talk about them to entice children to read a wide range of books.
- In Reception, children have access to the reading corner every day in their free flow time and the books are continually refreshed.
- Children from Reception onwards have a home reading record. The parent/carer records comments to share with the adults in school and the adults will write in this on a regular basis to ensure communication between home and school.
- As the children progress through the school, they are encouraged to write their own comments and keep a list of the books/authors that they have read.
- The school library is made available for classes to use at protected times. Children across the school have regular opportunities to engage with a wide range of Reading for Pleasure events (author visits and workshops, book fairs and national events such as World Book Day etc).
Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.
- Assessment for learning is used:
- daily within class to identify children needing Keep-up support
- weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.
- Summative assessment is used:
- every six weeks to assess progress, to identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed, to identify any children needing additional support and to plan the Keep-up support that they need.
- by SLT and scrutinised through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker, to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.
- Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics Screening Check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.
Ongoing assessment for catch-up
- Children in Year 2 to 6 are assessed through their teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as through the half-termly Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised summative assessments.
Accurate spelling is embedded into our teaching and learning across the curriculum and not confined to discrete lessons.
All our children are encouraged to ‘have a go’ at new words using the phonics skills they have acquired. Sometimes key words are given in the form of a word bank and high-frequency words can be seen on displays around the classrooms. We do not correct every spelling error in their work as this would erode confidence and stifle experimentation with new vocabulary, but we do highlight an appropriate number of errors depending on the ability and age of the child concerned.
The children are often asked to complete homework tasks to support their progression in spelling. These tasks may be related to a particular topic, personal spellings based upon errors noted in the children’s work, looking at spelling patterns and rules or all three. Spellings are tested often so that we can identify ‘next steps’ for the children to make improvements.
How you can help your child become an effective speller?
Your support is invaluable! Parents and carers are able to extend what happens in school and help children apply their learning to the world beyond the classroom. Here are some tips to help your child become an effective speller:
• Make spelling fun, as children learn best through play – spelling activities are best seen as ‘playing with words’.
• Not only listen and read to your child but read with them as good spellers are often good speakers and good readers.
• Sort words into general groups; look at common patterns, as it is impossible to learn to spell every word separately.
• Discuss and explain why a word is spelt in a particular way as that way your child will probably remember how to spell it.
• Many children find computers highly motivating and there are some excellent resources available including the BBC website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/
Through our English and wider curriculum, we strive to develop a culture of reading through consistently using high quality texts, often linked to the Unit of Learning, that demonstrate aspirational language and grammatical structure; a variety of texts that inspire and enthuse children; texts with themes that help our children to develop and promote the school’s values as well as ensuring their personal, social, spiritual and emotion needs are met and where children are able to progress and reach their full potential.
Pupils in Early Years and Key Stage One are taught to read daily within phonics lessons and all our pupils are taught explicit reading strategies and skills through our whole class RIC (Retrieve, Interpret, Choice) sessions, allowing all our children to access more challenging texts and answer complex questions.
In each of our classroom environments, reading areas are created as a stimulating and exciting space to develop the delight of reading.
As part of every school day, adults read a class book aloud to the children to further promote a love for reading and exposure to high quality texts.
In addition, throughout the school year the importance of reading is enhanced through World Book Day, author visits, Book Fairs and sponsored reading events to further enrich our English curriculum.
To ensure we are reading high quality texts, we refer to a variety of recommended booklists, namely, CLPE Core Booklist, Pie Corbett Reading Spines and Book Award winners list (CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals; FCBG Children’s Book Award; Waterstone’s).
Pupils’ home-school books are closely matched to their phonic ability; pupils are able to enjoy books at both school and at home whilst applying their phonics to decode accurately.