At South Borough Primary School we strive to ensure that all pupils become confident, fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One (KS1) and believe this is achievable through a combination of strong, high quality, discrete phonics teaching combined with a whole language approach that promotes a ‘reading and writing for pleasure’ culture.
We emphasise high quality phonics as an important part of the word decoding skills required by pupils to develop higher level whole language and comprehension skills. It is our school's belief that we first ‘learn to read’ and then ‘read to learn’. A consistent, effective and engaging approach to the teaching of phonics across the Early Years Foundation Stage, Key Stage One and on into Key Stage Two for pupils who still need further support.
From Early Years onwards, we use a synthetic phonics programme called ‘Read Write Inc’. This programme is a method of learning letter sounds and blending them together to read and write words. It ensures consistency of approach to teaching phonics throughout the whole school. Phonics is taught to the whole class to ensure that learning is accessible to all children. Daily sessions are delivered by fully trained practitioners and are structured so that children participate in speaking, listening, reading, writing and spelling activities.
Throughout their phonics learning, children learn the English alphabetic code: first they learn one way to read the 40+ sounds and blend these sounds into words, then learn to read the same sounds with alternative graphemes. They rapidly learn sounds and the letter, or group of letters, they need to represent them, in three sets of Speed Sounds lessons. Colourful phonics cards, together with simple and enjoyable mnemonics help all children to grasp the letter-sound correspondences quickly. High frequency words that are not phonetically regular are taught as Red Words and are practised frequently. Speed sounds are taught in the following order:
Set 1: m a s d t i n p g o c k u b f e l h r j v y w z x sh th ch qu ng nk
Set 2: ay ee igh ow oo oo ar or air ir ou oy
Set 3: ea oi a-e i-e o-e u-e aw are ur er ow ai oa ew ire ear ure tion tious/cious
We also follow the Read Write Inc principles in our phonics lessons to ensure that we maintain children’s attention and excitement throughout. The 5 core principles are:
Know the PURPOSE of every activity and share it with the children, so that children know the one thing they should be thinking about.
Be PASSIONATE about teaching so that you can engage children emotionally.
Teach at an effective PACE and devote every moment to teaching and learning.
Ensure that every child PARTICIPATES throughout the lesson.
PRAISE effort and progress - not ability.
To ensure children are stretched and challenged, teachers draw upon daily observations and continuous assessment. Regular assessments using the Read, Write Inc assessment, phonics screening checks and the Reading Early Learning Goal (in EYFS), enable teachers to monitor and track childrens’ progress. Teachers ensure that children are grouped accordingly and they will identify those who may need additional support and ensure that this is provided.
Whilst phonics is taught through the RWInc scheme, we recognise that children learn at different paces and that a one fit approach may not meet the needs of all children. Teachers have the flexibility to be able to deliver and plan phonics lessons according to the needs of the child in their class. These lessons are delivered through a more creative and active approach and are suitable for children who have learning difficulties or those who are struggling to acquire age appropriate literacy skills.
To ensure that children can continue to consolidate their phonics learning at home, we provide each family with their own set of Read Write Inc cards together with a copy of the taught red ‘tricky’ and ‘green’. Children are also given reading books appropriate for their phonic knowledge in order for them to apply their learning with the aim of becoming successful, confident and fluent readers. Children are encouraged to read at home and are listened to regularly in school. We provide videos of pure sounds and an example of a phonics lesson for parents/ carers in order to support their children at home.