Phonics and Early Reading
At Sharlston we recognise that learning to read is a vital skill. Reading allows children to explore the world around them, make connections with their own lives and escape to magical worlds through fiction texts. Learning to read at an early age leads to improved academic success further along children’s educational journey and we aim to instil a love of reading from the very first day at our school.
Why learning to read is so important
- Reading is essential for all subject areas and improves life chances.
- Positive attitudes to reading and choosing to read have academic, social and emotional benefits for children.
Please find our Phonics and Early Reading Policy by clicking here
Phonics (reading and spelling)
At Sharlston, 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.
We also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in our English lessons, 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.
Reading is highly valued as a crucial life skill. By the time children move on to Key Stage Two, we intend for them to 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. She is highly skilled at teaching phonics and reading, and alongside our English Leader, monitors and supports our Phonics team, so everyone teaches with fidelity to the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
Foundations for phonics in Nursery
- From the start of Nursery we prepare our children for the phonics teaching and learning through the implementation of Launchpad for Literacy. This is an established and effective pre-phonics programme which supports the development of key skills that very young children need, in order to be ‘ready’ for the systemic, synthetic phonics programme in reception.
- We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and language’ and ‘Literacy’. These include:
- sharing high-quality stories and poems
- learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
- activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
- attention to high-quality language.
- We ensure Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.
Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
- We teach phonics for 25 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.
- 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.
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 to Year 6 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.
- The decodable reading practice book is taken home to ensure success is shared with the family.
- Reading for pleasure ‘Book Swap’ 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 staff member in our school has been trained to teach phonics, 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.
- Lesson templates, Prompt cards and How to videos ensure staff 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 our school and our local community as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures. Books are carefully chosen to support our ‘SHINE curriculum.’ as well as to introduce children to ambitious vocabulary.
- 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.
- 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 onwards have an online home reading record via Boomreader. 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.
- 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).
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.
All children will take a reading book home daily.(See above). If they are reading regularly at home, they can change these books as often as they like (under the guidance of the class teacher).. We also carefully monitor the children’s reading at home and encourage parents to be fully active and engaged with us in this, in order to support their children’s ongoing development. As well as their reading books, children take home word cards to practise and develop their recognition of High Frequency Words.
Working in Partnership with Parents
At Sharlston Community School we want to encourage every child to read with a grown up at home every night. Children who read with their families grow in confidence much more quickly and develop a love of reading that can last a lifetime. In recognition of the important role parents have we hope our home/school reading initiatives will motivate children to read at home whilst earning ‘rewards’ for their efforts.
We hold a meeting with all parents early in the autumn term in order to explain our reading schemes, procedures and expectations. Throughout the year we offer sessions for parents of children in all year groups, to explain how they can support with reading development at home.
Hints for listening to your child read
- When reading together at home try to make the time relaxed, enjoyable and positive.
- Vary it. Read together, read to your child and take turns or have them read to you.
- Before reading, talk about the cover, the title and the pictures, and discuss what the book may be about.
- During reading, discuss what has been read up to that point and predict what might happen next.
Further Information on how we teach phonics
For further guidance regarding phonics at Sharlston Community School, please see the link Information for parents on the Little Wandle website.