Reading and Phonics KS1
The Teaching of Phonics
What is phonics?
Phonics is a systematic way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. Whilst there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, spoken English uses about 42 sounds (phonemes). These phonemes are represented by a letter or group of letters (graphemes). The teaching of phonics begins by teaching children the letter sounds in isolation and then building up to blending the sounds together to read whole words. In turn children are then able to use their phonic skills to segment words to support with spelling.
How is phonics taught at our school?
Our approach to teaching phonics is through using ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ which is a complete phonics programme taught throughout the EYFS and Key Stage one. This is an exciting way of teaching phonics which has colourful, child-friendly resources to complement the teaching of each new phoneme. There are also Little Wandle ‘Big Cat Collins’ books which are used alongside the lessons to enable the children to read books that contain the phonemes that they have been taught. Every child in Reception and Year 1 receives daily focused phonics sessions. Our daily phonics lessons also include the teaching of ‘tricky words’. These are words that cannot be read phonetically e.g. should.
September 2023 was the Little Wandle launch of 'Bridge to Spelling' in Year 2. In Autumn 1, Year 2 recapture and secure knowledge up to Phase 5, by completing a five week review of phase 5 sounds and 'Growing the code'. In Autumn 2, Year 2 transition into 'Bridge to spelling' lessons planned and provided by Little Wandle with the same terminology, fast-paced and engaging lessons as they experienced in EYFS and Year 1. This continues for the entirety of Year 2 covering all spelling strands in the Year 2 expected curriculum.
Little Wandle provision is also provided for children in Key Stage Two who require additional support with phonics. We aim for our lessons to be fast-paced, engaging and fun. Each week there is a review day to ensure children's understanding of the phonemes taught that week and there is also a review week at the end of each half term to consolidate the children's learning. We expect children to use the skills they have acquired through phonics teaching in all reading, writing and spelling activities, therefore we ensure that phonics is embedded in all areas of our curriculum.
The Year One phonics screening
The phonics screening check is a short, simple assessment to make sure that all pupils have learned phonic decoding to an appropriate standard by the age of 6. The check comprises a list of 40 words and non-words which the child will read one-to-one with a teacher.
The Teaching of Reading
Reading is an essential life skill and as a result we place strong emphasis on children becoming confident, strong readers who enjoy reading for purpose and pleasure. During those first days of Reception, children learn key skills such as how to handle books and that print carries meaning. They continue to explore a range of books including fiction and non-fiction and learn to explore their structure. Author boxes provide children with vital opportunities to learn about a range of authors and illustrators and to read new titles by familiar authors. We aim to instil a love of reading early on in their school life, so this will have a huge impact on their attitude and attainment in reading throughout their education.
Our EYFS and KS1 class reading sessions, three times a week, are specifically focused on the phased level that children are currently on and fluent in. These are books are ‘Big Cat Collins’ books from ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds revised’. This link in turn really embeds the skills taught in phonics lessons and supports with the same style of teaching. We ensure children regularly read aloud to adults and in turn listen to adult read to them. These are sent home as home readers after being shared in school in adult led reading sessions.
Children in Year 2 who passed their Year 1 phonics screening, and have moved on from ‘Little Wandle’ Phase 5, have guided reading sessions with an adult during this reading time. This ensures we are accelerating them into being fluent readers in a wide range of texts and enabling them to access good quality chapter books. They work on responding with thought to vocabulary, inference, prediction, explanation, retrieval and summarising. This links to the KS2 focus on ‘VIPERS’ for when children transition over to Wilnecote Junior Academy.