English sits at the heart of our curriculum – it is through language, story and text that children learn to form concepts, connect ideas and express themselves. Through literacy, in all its forms, children learn to both make sense of the world and shape their place within it.
Across both writing and reading, we place a heavy emphasis on developing a child’s vocabulary. By the time children leave Holy Spirit in Year 6, the limited word hoard they arrived with in Reception will have expanded enormously, giving them the language they need to understand sophisticated texts and express themselves in a wide range of contexts.
English through our faith
English enables our children to discover the beauty of communication, understanding and exploration of relationships with themselves, each other, and the mysterious nature of God’s world.
He opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures Luke 24:45.
And by knowledge, shall all the chambers be filled with precious and pleasant riches Proverbs 24:4.
Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write by developing their phonemic awareness—the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate different sounds used in the English language. Children learn the correspondence between these sounds and the spelling patterns (graphemes) that represent them. At Holy Spirit, phonics lessons are taught daily from Nursery to Y2 and interventions continue for those children who need them:
- Read Write Inc. Phonics- A fast-paced, rigorous and structured phonics programme which helps get every child reading fast and gives teachers the confidence and skills to deliver high-quality teaching every day
- Read Write Inc. Fresh Start- Age-appropriate materials with proven results for older struggling readers to help them catch-up fast with clear and supportive teaching materials
- Read Write Inc. One-to-one Phonics Tutoring Kit- A proven focussed catch-up programme showing how to tutor a child effectively, to help children who have fallen behind catch up fast.
The Phonics Screening Check
During the Summer term in Year 1, children nationwide are tested on their phonic knowledge. This test helps us to identify children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge and may need further support in Year 2. The test is low-key and we endeavour to make it stress-free for the children. Essentially, the children are asked to read 40 words from a list, using their phonics to ‘sound out’ the word and then blend it if they need to. Parents are informed as to whether their child has achieved the national expectation within the child’s end-of-year report.
Practising Phonics at Home
The best phonics resources are ordinary reading books. Alongside the books your child brings home seek out books that you and your child enjoy reading. Discuss words that present a challenge, breaking them down into their component sounds in order to read them if necessary. Make sure you set aside quiet time for reading and enjoying books together.
At Holy Spirit, we strive to teach children to read effectively and quickly using the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme (RWI) which includes teaching synthetic phonics, sight vocabulary, decoding and encoding words as well as spelling and accurate letter formation.
These skills are embedded within daily RWI lessons. By focussing on the teaching of skilled word reading in the Early Years and KS1, using a synthetic phonics scheme, children learn to pronounce unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and speedily recognise familiar printed words. We want all children to enjoy and experience early success in learning to read. We are committed to developing children’s love of reading and to help them to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know.
Children experience success from the very beginning. Lively phonic books are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ‘tricky’ words and, as children re-read the stories, their fluency increases. Children are also given prompts for thinking out loud and discussion.
Phase 1 – Aspects will continue to be taught from September in Nursery until the term before entering Reception when many children will be ready to access the Read Write Inc. programme. Before starting to teach Set 1 sounds children practise using ‘pure sounds’, they use Fred Talk to teach oral blending and are taught to name the pictures. When children are ready to access the Read, Write Inc programme a new sound is taught every day for about 15 minutes. Children are taught to blend in small groups once the children can read all the single letter Set 1 sounds speedily.
Reception and Year 1
In Reception and Year 1 we emphasise the alphabetic code. The pupils rapidly learn sounds and the letter or groups of letters they need to represent them. Simple mnemonics help them to grasp this quickly. This is especially useful for pupils at risk of making slower progress. This learning is consolidated daily. Pupils have frequent practice in reading high frequency words with irregular spellings – common exception words. We make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and the common exception words. This is so that, early on, they experience success and gain confidence that they are readers. Re-reading and discussing these books with the teacher supports their increasingly fluent decoding.
Our aim is for pupils to complete the phonics programme as quickly as possible. The sooner they complete it, the sooner they will be able to choose books to read at their own interest and comprehension level.
Year 2 Phonics and Spelling
By the end of Year 1 the Read, Write, Inc programme will generally have been completed and so the majority Year 2 will move onto Read Write Inc Spelling. Any children not at the standard to do this will receive intervention tailored to their requirements.
Progression and delivery
The pace at which the programme is delivered is rapid but uses a lot of repetition so the children are constantly re-visiting sounds they have previously learnt. In Read Write Inc. Phonics, because the pupils are grouped across the school in terms of their reading ability, they are reading at an appropriate decoding level every day. The homogeneous groups in the Phonic lessons help us to focus the teaching and ensure pupils learn to read quickly.
Tracking and Assessment
All pupils are assessed every 6 weeks as they progress. During daily sessions of phonics there are also opportunities for practitioners to regularly assess children’s understanding. Outside the discrete daily phonics sessions there are opportunities to observe the application of phonic skills, e.g. during guided/ shared reading.
Regular monitoring of the assessment outcomes allows teachers and practitioners to ensure that all children are making expected progress, including children in the most vulnerable groups. This data allow us to intervene in different ways. For instance, we quickly move pupils to another group if they are progressing faster than their peers. Those who continue to struggle have one-to-one tutoring so that they keep up.
Year 1 Screening Check
Every Year 1 child in the Summer term will take a Phonics Screening Check; this is a phonics based check where children will be expected to read 40 simple,
de-codeable words including nonsense words. This is a progress check to identify those children not at expected level in their reading. The results will be reported to parents as well as on ‘ASP.’ Children will be rechecked in Year 2 if they do not reach the expected level. Any child working below the level of the screen check may be dis-applied, with the acknowledgment of the parent/carer.
Through careful monitoring and tracking practitioners are able to identify children who are not making the expected progress and therefore need intervention to catch up. Depending on the needs of individuals, this may include additional individual or small group tutoring before the lesson or after the main lesson; one to one work with a trained practitioner or extra support for a child or small group of children within a lesson. It is important that children who are struggling to learn to read not only need to catch up with their peers, but also to continue to make progress.
Additional support for lower-attaining pupils who are learning to read have the widest variety of needs. This is therefore the least homogeneous group. In order to give these pupils the same carefully targeted teaching as all the other groups, some of these pupils have daily one-to-one tutoring for 10 to 20 minutes, in addition to their group session in the morning. This tutoring helps us to meet their individual needs. Once these pupils have learnt to read they will receive additional support when learning to spell.
We support pupils to select appropriate books to take home, depending on what support they might receive at home. Pupils who receive little help take home books that they have already read in the Read Write Inc. Phonics lesson. This means that they are confident to read at home. Pupils also take home book bag books which include a range of non-fiction. Stories and new vocabulary are explained and discussed so all pupils have access to the books they read. Pupils also take home familiar picture books so that they can re-tell the story out loud and recall details and vocabulary.