Teaching of Reading and Phonics

Phonics

Every day in Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1, children have a fast paced opportunity to develop their understanding of letters and sounds. Our phonics teaching is interactive, fast and fun. We use the Department for Education document, ‘Letters and Sounds’, as the basis for our phonics teaching, using 'Floppy's Phonics' and the multi-sensory resource ‘Jolly Phonics’. Children learn phonemes (the sounds letters make) and graphemes (the way sounds are written). Children learn about grapheme-phoneme correspondences, in other words they develop understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words and that this underpins their reading and spelling of all words. Our pupils learn how the alphabet code can sometimes be unusual through learning about common exception words - you may have heard of these as 'tricky' words. Letters of the alphabet can make sounds in unusual ways, for example 's' in sugar makes a /sh/ sound.

Our pupils take the Phonics Screening Check at the end of Year One, with those pupils who do not reach the required standard re-taking the check at the end of Year Two. Our first cohort of children took the Phonic Screening Check in June 2016. 65% of all pupils met the expected standard, compared to 81% nationally. Whilst the proportion of children in school reaching the expected standard was lower than national, most pupils made good progress from their starting points.

Before starting school

Children enjoy rhyming and rhythmic activities often through music and dance. They learn to distinguish different sounds and to control their voices to make and say different sounds. Children start to recognise letters in their name and the environment and are encouraged to hear initial sounds in words and others where appropriate. Some children will also begin to link sounds to corresponding letters.

Reception

We will continue to develop these skills and will also introduce groups of sounds:

1. s, a, t, p   5. h, b f, ff, l, ll, ss
2. i, n, m, d   6. j, v, w, x
3. g, o, c, k   7. y, z, zz, qu
4. ck, e, u, r   8. sh, ch, th, ng

Children will use these to read and write words such as rat, ship, bin, log, chin. They also learn some common exception words.

Year 1

Children will learn about consonants and vowels and learn to read and write more difficult words such as: milk, frog, stop, bank. They will learn that English is a complicated system and that there are different ways to spell our long vowels. For example, the /ai/ sound can be spelled ay as in hay, a-e as Jane, ai as in rain or even eig as in reign. They continue to learn common exception words.

Year 2

Children revise and consolidate all the work they have done so far, especially those tricky long vowels sounds. They start to learn common spelling patterns such as the prefix ‘un’ and what happens when we add ‘ing’.

Years 3-6

Children take an investigative approach to finding and categorising spelling patterns.

Reading

Developing our pupils to be confident and accurate readers who have a love of reading is at the core of learning in our school. Alongside a structured approach to phonics, our pupils also learn to read the most common words (high frequency words) by sight to enable them to read fluently and for their reading to flow, helping them to understand what they are reading. We use Oxford Reading Tree as our core reading scheme but supplement this with a range of other reading material, including Project X, to meet the interests and development of all our pupils.

We work very hard to develop a love of reading from an early age. Children share stories every day at school, they visit the library in King Cross and work with Reading Buddies from our secondary phase. We have an exciting project called 'The Great British Reading Journey' where the children used a democratic election to vote for their favourite books which we then sent on a journey to schools all around the United Kingdom. Those schools then send us details about their local area and tell us what their favourite books are, which we then buy to put in our own library!

We also have a Little Bookworm Club, where we celebrate fantastic attitudes towards reading by sending a special book to share at home and a bookworm toy to visit for a few days.

Here are two very useful phonics videos:

The 42 Letter Sounds

Phonics Songs