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Phonics Intent (Reading and Spelling)

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Implementation – We do this by:

Early Reading at St Stephen’s

• Phonics is taught daily in Reception and Year 1.

• It is taught for 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Four phonemes and their corresponding graphemes are taught each week. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.

• Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPC’s (grapheme-phoneme correspondence) and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.

• Children in Year 1 review phase 2, 3 and 4 before learning phase 5, which will be completed by the end of the year.  Year 2 children will begin the year by revisiting phase 5 and other previously taught phases to ensure all children are completely confident with applying these GPC’s in both their reading and also their writing.  (Please see the overview here to see what this progression looks like).

• Half-termly assessments take place through Reception and Year 1 to help inform future teaching and help identify children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge and need additional practise.  Daily assessments of learning also take place within the classroom so staff can quickly identify any children who are in danger of falling behind and provide the appropriate daily ‘Keep Up’ intervention.

Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read.

• Any child who needs additional practice has daily Keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult.  Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching and use the same procedures, resources and mantras but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.

• We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 and 3 who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics Screening Check.  These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen.  We use the LW assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the keep-up resources – at pace.

• If any child in Year 3-6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps.  These lessons last 30 minutes and take place four times a week. These children are identified through placement assessments.

• Children who are new to the school are assessed using the placement assessments, so that early phonic needs are identified.

Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions five times a week

• We teach children to read, through reading practice sessions five times a week.  These are taught by fully trained adults to small groups of approximately six children.

• We used books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the LW assessments and book matching grids.

• These are monitored by the class teacher, who selects the books that each group reads based on their assessments.

• Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory.  The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:

  • Decoding
  • Prosody – teaching children to read with understanding and expression.
  • Comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.

• In Reception, these sessions start at Week 4.  Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books.

• In Year 2 and 3, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.

Reading fully decodable books

• The decodable reading practice book read in school are set online for parents and children to access.  The book set is the book read in the previous week in school.  This enables children to build upon their skills and confidence.

• Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to their children.  These are selected from a wide variety of genre in the Early Years and Key Stage 1 library.

• We use LWLSR parent’s resources to engage our families and share information about phonics, the benefits of sharing books, how children learn to blend and other aspects of our provision.

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Additional reading support for vulnerable children

• Children in Reception and Year 1 who are receiving additional phonics Keep-up sessions read their reading practice book to an adult daily.

Ensuring consistency and pace of progress

• Every teacher in our school has been trained to teach reading, so we have the same expectations of progress.  We all use the same language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.

• Weekly content grids map each element of new learning to each day, week and term for the duration of the programme.

• Lesson templates, Prompt cards and ‘How to ‘videos ensure teachers all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.

• The Reading Leader and SLT use the Audit and Prompt cards to regularly monitor and observe teaching: they use the summative data to identify children who need additional support to close gaps in their learning.

reading for pleasure

Reading for pleasure is a whole school priority.   Reading enjoyment has been reported as more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status (OECD, 2002). 

We value reading for pleasure highly and work hard as a school to grow our Reading for Pleasure pedagogy.  We do this by:

• Reading to our children every day.  We select books carefully, wanting our children to experience a wide range of books, including those that reflect the children of St Stephen’s and our local community, as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures.

• Every classroom has a variety of books available that encourage a love for reading.

• In Reception, children have access to a reading corner every day in their free flow time and the books are regularly refreshed.

• Children from Reception and Key Stage 1 have a home reading record.  The parent/carer records comments to share with the adults in school and the adults will write in this on a regular basis to ensure communication.  Teachers monitor progress throughout the week and record this once a week on a Friday for parents to read.

• Each phase has a library, which is made available for classes to use.  Children across the school have regular opportunities to engage with a wide range of Reading for Pleasure events (book fairs, author visits and workshops and national events.

• Each year group from 1-6 is represented by Reading Ambassadors who come together to help lead reading for pleasure in the school.  They organise library stock, write book reviews, lead assemblies, read with younger children and help to organise reading events across the school.

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Reading at home – Parents and Carers understand; 

  •  That their role has a positive impact on their child’s reading.
  • The importance of modelling reading helps to develop fluency.
  • That the books taken home are the books the children have read at school in the previous week and are there to re-read at home to build fluency and confidence.
  • The children will bring home two different types of books.  One is for reading practice and another book to share for pleasure.
  •  That reading at home encourages a love of books, along with developing vocabulary and discussion, that aids understanding.
  • That using voices for expression develops a better understanding and comprehension.
  • That discussing books is essential and exploring unfamiliar vocabulary will develop a greater understanding and comprehension.
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Impact - Assessment of Phonics

Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.

Assessment for learning is used:

• daily within class to identify children needing Keep-up support.

• weekly, in the Review lesson to assess gaps, ensuring these are addressed immediately and secure fluency of GPC’s, words and spellings.

Summative assessment is used:

• Every six weeks to assess progress, to identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed, to identify any children needing additional support and to plan the Keep-up support that they need.

• SLT scrutinise progress through the LWLSR assessment tracker, to narrow the attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.

Statutory assessment

• Children in Year 1 take the Phonics Screening Check in June.  Any child not passing the check, has keep-up sessions and re-sits in Year 2.

Ongoing assessments for catch-up

• Children in Year 2-6 are assessed through the teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as through the half-termly LWLSR summative assessments.

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Resources - Supporting Documents


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How we teach alien words, tricky words and blending

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