Church of England Primary School
Phonics and early reading policy
The context of our school
Bredgar CE Primary is a small school with approximately 104 pupils across 4 mixed age classes. We are an inclusive school and welcoming to children of all abilities and backgrounds. Our school vision, which drives all that we do, ensures that we remain committed to ensuring that all children can and do achieve, in an environment which is supportive of every individual as a unique child of God. It is essential that our approach to teaching phonics and reading is accessible to all learners, regardless of background.
Phonics (reading and spelling)
At Bredgar CE Primary 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. At Bredgar CE Primary, we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, 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.
At Bredgar CE Primary, we value reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children leave us, they 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. This person is highly skilled at teaching phonics and reading, and they monitor and support our reading team, so everyone teaches with fidelity to the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read
Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week
Additional reading support for vulnerable children
Ensuring consistency and pace of progress
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.
Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.
Ongoing assessment for catch-up
Accurate spelling is embedded into our teaching and learning across the curriculum and not confined to discrete lessons.
All our children are encouraged to ‘have a go’ at new words using the phonics skills they have acquired. Sometimes key words are given in the form of a word bank and high-frequency words can be seen on displays around the classrooms. We do not correct every spelling error in their work as this would erode confidence and stifle experimentation with new vocabulary, but we do highlight an appropriate number of errors depending on the ability and age of the child concerned.
The children are often asked to complete homework tasks to support their progression in spelling. These tasks may be related to a particular topic, personal spellings based upon errors noted in the children’s work, looking at spelling patterns and rules or all three. Spellings are tested often so that we can identify ‘next steps’ for the children to make improvements.
How you can help your child become an effective speller?
Your support is invaluable! Parents and carers are able to extend what happens in school and help children apply their learning to the world beyond the classroom. Here are some tips to help your child become an effective speller:
• Make spelling fun, as children learn best through play – spelling activities are best seen as ‘playing with words’.
• Not only listen and read to your child but read with them as good spellers are often good speakers and good readers.
• Sort words into general groups; look at common patterns, as it is impossible to learn to spell every word separately.
• Discuss and explain why a word is spelt in a particular way as that way your child will probably remember how to spell it.
• Many children find computers highly motivating and there are some excellent resources available including the BBC website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/
Through our English and wider curriculum, we strive to develop a culture of reading through consistently using high quality texts, often linked to the Unit of Learning, that demonstrate aspirational language and grammatical structure; a variety of texts that inspire and enthuse children; texts with themes that help our children to develop and promote the school’s values as well as ensuring their personal, social, spiritual and emotion needs are met and where children are able to progress and reach their full potential.
Pupils in Early Years and Key Stage One are taught to read daily within phonics lessons and all our pupils are taught explicit reading strategies and skills through our whole class RIC (Retrieve, Interpret, Choice) sessions, allowing all our children to access more challenging texts and answer complex questions.
In each of our classroom environments, reading areas are created as a stimulating and exciting space to develop the delight of reading.
As part of every school day, adults read a class book aloud to the children to further promote a love for reading and exposure to high quality texts.
In addition, throughout the school year the importance of reading is enhanced through World Book Day, author visits, Book Fairs and sponsored reading events to further enrich our English curriculum.
To ensure we are reading high quality texts, we refer to a variety of recommended booklists, namely, CLPE Core Booklist, Pie Corbett Reading Spines and Book Award winners list (CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals; FCBG Children’s Book Award; Waterstone’s).
Pupils’ home-school books are closely matched to their phonic ability; pupils are able to enjoy books at both school and at home whilst applying their phonics to decode accurately.