Phonics

Phonics at St George’s

 

Aims: We aim to teach high quality phonics to ensure the children have the best start possible in reading and writing.

 

We have recently chosen to invest in a new phonics scheme with a complete update of  home readers so that we can phonetically match home reading books to support our children when reading at home. 
In October 2021 the staff undertook a day’s Little Wandle early reading training . 

 

At St George’s Catholic School, 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 St George’s Catholic School, 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.

Implementation 

 

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 in Reception . 

    • 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. 

 

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. 

  • In Year One it was felt that the class needed to continue to follow the Read Write Inc Synthetics Programme this year as they had received Read Write Inc teaching last year and it was the best course of action for the pupils to complete the programme. 
    Children are taught phonic sounds daily and phonetically matched texts are read in school to reinforce the sounds learned . These books are sent home along with phonetically matched Read Write Inc Book Bag books so that texts sent home are fully decodable, with the exception of sharing stories. 
    Children are tracked through regular assessment and are taught in groups matched to their phonic stage . Sounds are revised where needed and new sounds taught as children are ready to progress . Any child who does not pass the phonic screen in Class  One will remain in a Read Write Inc phonics group in Class Two and will be tracked and checked to ensure phonological awareness is sound . This process will continue through to Key Stage Two if required. 

 

Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week

 

  • We teach children to read through reading practice sessions through the 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 or Read Write Inc 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:

    • decoding

    • 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. 

Home reading

 

  • 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 and Read Write Inc 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 where possible in our school involved in the teaching of reading has been trained, 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 St George’s Catholic School and our local community as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures.The Literacy Lead attends SLN and Book Blast events to keep abreast of new children’s literature. We have a well stocked and regularly updated school library. 

  • We have invested in the Pie Corbett Story Spine across the school to ensure that the reading of quality texts is consistent and progressive across the school. 

  • Every classroom has an inviting book corner that encourages a love for reading. We curate these books and talk about them to entice children to read a wide range of books. 

  • We subscribe to Resources for Learning so that we have constant access to fresh resources to meet topics and so that we can refresh reading corners through the year. 

  • In Nursery/Reception, children have access to the reading corner every day in their free flow time and the books are continually refreshed. 

  • Children from Nursery/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.

  • Each class receives visits from the local library through the year and the children are taken to the local library. 

  • The school uses social media to encourage children and parents to join the local library and provides support on how to join.

  • The school library is made available for classes to use at protected times. It must be booked via the school booking system. 

  • Children across the school have regular opportunities to engage with a wide range of Reading for Pleasure events (book fairs, author visits and workshops, national events etc).

  • The school uses social media to promote reading. It uses its online learning platform to share reading opportunities, offer advice and support to parents and to support the teaching of vocabulary and reading. 

Impact 

 

Assessment 

 

Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.

 

 
    • 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. 

Statutory assessment

 

  • 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.