'Reading is a passport to countless adventures.'
Mary Pope Osborne
At Princes Risborough Primary School we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We believe that Phonics provides the foundation in supporting children to develop the skills in order for this to become achievable.
Phonics is taught across the school using the Letters and Sounds scheme, which includes the systematic coverage of phonological awareness, oral blending in connection with speaking and listening skills and sight vocabulary. We aim for all of the children to actively participate in Phonics through a variety of activities that promote the use of using letter sounds, patterns and rules. We strive for all children to enjoy using ‘Letters and Sounds’, and become familiar with the skills needed to be able to work independently. The teaching of Phonics is fast-paced, and filled with fun activities, such as singing, rapping, word hunting and Phonics games. We encourage the children to take ownership of their learning by using their environment and resources to support and deepen their thinking.
Using the ‘Letters and Sounds’ scheme our children will be taught to:
· Read easily and fluently, with a good understanding.
· Write clearly, accurately and coherently.
· Develop a love of reading, exploring information texts and reading for pleasure.
We passionately believe that teaching our children to read and write is imperative to moving forward in life. Our intent is for every child to be motivated to read and write, providing them with fundamental skills that will have a huge impact on their self-esteem and provide opportunities to become independent learners.
At Princes Risborough Primary School, we believe that reading and writing is an essential life skill and we are dedicated to enabling our children to become enthused, engaged and successful lifelong readers and writers. To support this, we implement the following:
· Daily Phonics lessons led by the teacher, whereby children learn new phonemes, improve their ability to segment and blend sounds, and their ability to apply this knowledge into their reading and writing.
· Phonics interventions for children who require exposure to previously taught phases, enabling them to further embed their understanding and become confident to apply their skills.
· Whole Class Guided Reading sessions which take place four times a week in Years 2 – 6, and once a week in Year 1. In these sessions, children develop the key reading skills of decoding, Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation, Retrieval and Summarising (VIPERS). Children also continue to develop their reading fluency skills, building upon their phonics knowledge and skills. We ensure high-quality texts are used so that they can demonstrate their understanding and thinking behind these, which in turn, inspires the children’s own writing ability.
· We recognise the importance of developing a rich and extensive bank of vocabulary; therefore, we discretely teach vocabulary directly linked to the text during every phonics and guided reading session. This is reinforced daily during sessions, ensuring new vocabulary is embedded.
· Small group guided reading sessions take place in EYFS and Year 1, three times a week, focussing on applying their decoding skills to enable them to read confidently and independently. These groups are ability set, and the children read books from our reading scheme, Big Cat Collins. These books are appropriate for the children’s reading ability, and matched to the phase the children are being taught in class.
· Children with Special Educational Needs or who need additional support with their reading will complete a mixture of small group reading sessions and 1:1 reading with either a Learning Support Assistant or the teacher during the week, focussing on their individual reading targets.
· Children in every year group are read to by their teacher every day. This is a combination of the class novel, stories the children have brought in from home, stories relating to the current topic or stories the children choose from the book corner in their classroom.
· At Princes Risborough Primary School we use the ‘Big Cat Collins’ reading scheme which links with our Phonics scheme ‘Letters and Sounds’. This ensures consistency for our children when learning to read. All children in EYFS and Key Stage 1 are issued two reading books that are appropriate for their reading ability and these are changed once a week. In EYFS the children are given an additional picture book, this is to encourage the children to start story-telling, which promotes a love of reading and supports the children in their Literacy lessons.
· Our aim is for children to leave Key Stage 1 being ‘free readers’ and for those who are not, they will continue to work through our school reading scheme – these are levelled books which match the children’s current reading age.
· We expect our children to be read with at home daily and parents to make comments in their child’s reading record. In addition to this, it is our policy that all children in EYFS and Key Stage 1 are heard at least once a week by their teacher, and additional reads for those who need extra support by the Learning Support Assistant, at least twice a week.
In practice, children learn the 44 common sounds in the English language and are taught how to blend these sounds to decode (read) words. At Princes Risborough Primary School, we follow the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme of sound teaching as mentioned above. When children begin with us in Reception, we start with Phase Two, which introduces the children to 23 phonemes. During this phase the children will learn to recognise, form and use these sounds in simple consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words to begin to read and write simple words and captions. Once they have conquered this skill, they start reading stories and texts that have words made up of the sounds they know. This means that they can embed and apply their phonic knowledge and start to build their reading fluency. Once secure, the children move on to the next phase whereby they will learn new sounds, improve their reading fluency and develop a greater writing ability. Throughout this process there is a focus on comprehension, reading with expression and reading for pleasure.
Throughout Early Years and Key Stage One, children are taught Phonics in whole class teacher led lessons to ensure all of our children are exposed to high quality teaching. To ensure we are supporting all of the children, Learning Support Assistants support children within the lessons by targeting their specific needs for Phonics. Teachers and Learning Support Assistants regularly assess the children and converse with each other daily so that all planning meets the needs of the children, therefore ensuring all children are confident in applying the skills they being taught. Teachers and Learning Support Assistants will share the support of all children to ensure children of all abilities are supported and challenged. In addition to this, all children will complete an assessment at the end of each phase of Phonics. The Phonics Lead will correlate the data to ensure appropriate interventions are put in place to support the children’s needs. The children are also assessed in their reading every half term to ensure their reading books offer enough challenge and room to improve. This, tied with our daily observations, enables confidence when issuing new reading books for the children to enjoy at home. We make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ability to read ‘tricky words’; so, they experience early reading success and gain confidence that they are readers, as well as consolidating the learning that takes place in school.
If children who join us have been to our Preschool they will have been taught Phase One as part of their daily Phonics sessions. This allows children to become aware of the sounds they hear in their immediate environments, as well as the sounds they can create themselves, using their body or instruments. Any children who haven’t been exposed to this will explore these aspects in the Early Years environment through a mixture of child-initiated learning and adult-focused activities.
By the time children leave Princes Risborough Primary School, they are competent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a passion for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books, including evaluating an author’s use of language and the impact this can have on the reader. We are able to measure attainment using the Key Stage One and Key Stage Two national assessments, along with the information provided by the Phonics Screening check in Year 1. However, at Princes Risborough Primary School, we believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond this and is embedded across the entire curriculum for our children.