Early Reading and Phonics
St. Mary's Phonics Programme
At St. Mary's we use the Little Wandle Letters & Sounds programme to teach early reading.
We ensure that all children in our Nursery, Reception and Year 1 classes are taught phonic skills through a daily 20 minute discrete phonic lesson. This develops the child's ability to tackle unknown words within a text by blending the phonemes (sounds) within the word. These phonic skills also enable a child to work out the phonemes they will need to use when they are writing words. Year 2 will continue with daily phonics sessions for those groups or individuals which require more support.
Once children are confident with saying the single letter sounds and blending them to create words, they then start to learn the common digraphs (where two letters go together to create a new phoneme such as sh), trigraphs (where three letters create a new phoneme such as igh) and spelling patterns that we use within the English language.
The key objectives in our phonic, reading and writing lessons are that children are taught to:
- love books and enjoy listening to stories, poems and rhymes
- read and write letter-sound correspondences quickly
- decode effortlessly, spell and handwrite easily
- comprehend what they read
- read with fluency and expression
- write confidently using oral rehearsal
- work effectively with a partner or within a group to articulate their learning at every step
Key Documents related to our phonics curriculum
2022-23 Parent/Carer Workshops
Reading Books - Matching books to the sounds being taught!
To ensure fidelity to our phonics curriculum - our pupils read texts that are fully-decodable at their current sound knowledge and learning. Therefore, every child can practise to develop fluency in reading. It makes sure that there is an agreed programme of texts we know and expect our pupils to read!
How do they practise reading new sounds?
At St. Mary's, we previously used Bug Club for phonics. We abandoned this programme in 2022 because only 50% of the texts were fully decodable. This meant that our pupils were learning to read with books that they couldn't always sound out.
Since Spring 2022, we have a digital license with Big Cat Phonics. All of the books pupils use to practise their sound understanding are available via an app on iPads, phones (android and iPhone) and computers - this means pupils can learn to read using the same text we are teaching at school! In school, pupils practise using a copy of the texts within school for practise using the physical text.
Why use a digital text? This means that our pupils can log in to one of our many devices at school and practise with a staff member. It also means that they can 'pick up' and take off from that spot when they access the app again at home. Many parents have devices (which we know through our lockdown survey) which means we can utilise technology to help our phonics practise.
Guidance for Parents/Carers:
Teachers distributed the welcome letters with codes/passwords last term. As children progress through their sound knowledge, teachers update the books on offer. Meaning that children never wait to change their text - they are ready and waiting! If you need any help or assistance with this - please contact your child's class teacher.
What about the lowest 20% of readers across the school?
Some children do not learn to read at the same rate or in the same way as their peers. It's more common than you think for a minority of pupils to struggle with phonics (blending sounds to create letters and words).
Did you know - our Headteacher - Mr Constable-Phelps has dyslexia. He struggled with reading and writing as a child too.
Providing to support to those who struggle to read
We have established systems to support the lowest 20% with improving their reading over time. We recognise that the best way to improve reading is through expert help rather than somebody without the skills trying to intervene.
|Support structures||How does this work?|
|Pupils have additional phonics and reading delivery during the week. This is timetabled by the Year Group leader and takes place during an afternoon non-core subject. We ensure that children still have access to the knowledge and skills missed in the session - but recognise the need for children to read to access the whole curriculum!|
|Reading regularly and out loud is vital to ensuring success. We expect every child to read for 15-20 mins per evening - but we know some do not. We monitor reading in each class - and work with parents and carers. However, where we see a deficit in the child being encouraged to read - this is picked up in school.|