Early Reading

Intent

At St. Andrew’s we value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our children to become lifelong readers and have a love of literature.

We recognise that mastery in phonics is fundamental to children being able to access a broad range of fiction and non-fiction texts, across the curriculum. We aim to develop knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live; to establish an appreciation and love of reading; to gain knowledge across the curriculum and develop their comprehension skills. We are committed to providing an environment which is rich in vocabulary.

 

Implementation

We use synthetic phonics and follow the “Letters and Sounds” programme, which is a method of learning letter sounds and blending them together to read and write words. In addition to this, children are taught High Frequency words linked to the National Curriculum.

Children have daily phonics sessions, sometimes in smaller groups where they participate in speaking, listening and spelling activities, which are matched to their starting points and developing needs. The teachers draw upon observations and assessment to ensure children are stretched and challenged and to identify children who may need additional support. Children work through the different phases, learning and developing their phonic sounds and knowledge.

Children in Nursery begin with Phase 1, which provides a range of listening activities through play, to develop their listening skills and in the Summer Term are exposed to Phase 2’s “satpin” if appropriate. Progress is tracked at the end of each term.

Many activities take place which promote pre-reading skills. Children become aware of print in the environment and match pictures and words. Language comprehension is developed by talking and reading to the children.

When children move into Reception they continue to build upon the listening activities and are introduced to Phase 2, which marks the start of systematic phonic work. Grapheme-phoneme correspondence is introduced. The process of segmenting whole words and selecting letters to represent those phonemes is taught, writing the letters to encode words. Phase 3 completes the teaching of the alphabet and then moves on to cover sounds represented by more than one letter, learning one representation for each of the 44 phonemes. At this stage just one grapheme (spelling) is given for each phoneme.

On entry to Reception parents/carers are supported through meetings explaining phonics and developing early reading skills. Parents are very welcome in our school and individual support is given where needed. The emphasis at this stage is to make learning fun and the children are supported through paper chain games, dice games, pairs games and snap. The parents are also directed to useful websites and apps.

Phases 4 and 5 are addressed where appropriate in Reception, for those children who are secure at Phase 3.

The first books given are books, which are fully decodable and linked to the phonic phase the child is on, so that their learning is practised and reinforced at home. Children are able to take an additional book home, which exposes them to phonics beyond their phase to share and read for pleasure. Our reading books are organised into coloured book bands and our decodable books are organised into sets within a phase.

The majority of Reception children enter Year 1 with a solid foundation in Phase 3 enabling them to recap quickly after summer and progress on to Phase 4, where they start to read and spell words with adjacent consonants. No new phonemes are introduced at this stage. Whilst in Year 1, children complete Phase 5, broadening their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and spelling.  They learn alternative pronunciations and spellings for graphemes they already know.

The Year 1 children are split into smaller groups to address specific needs and interventions are put into place for those who entered Year 1 at Phase 2.

It is expected that children entering Year 2 will recap Phase 5 and begin Phase 6, which develops a variety of spelling strategies including homophones (word specific spellings) e.g. see/sea, spelling of words with prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters where necessary. Also the accurate spelling of words containing unusual grapheme-phoneme correspondence e.g. laughs, two is taught.

The school spelling programme complements the phonic learning in Reception and Year 1. The spelling of High Frequency words is taught throughout the phases.

 

Impact

Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school. Attainment in reading is measured using teacher assessment at the end of Key Stage One and Two. These results are compared against the reading attainment of children nationally.

Attainment in phonics is measured by the Phonics Screening Check at the end of Year 1 and Year 2. However, we firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments.