In EYFS, Year 1 and Year 2 children take part in an active phonics session. It is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. The scheme we follow is ‘Letters and Sounds’ and through this children learn how to:
Children use the points above to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read. ‘Letters and Sounds’ is a structured way of learning that is split into phases that match the age expectations of each year group.
Children develop their listening skills through focussing on environmental sounds – e.g. they make a woosh noise for a rocket. They recognise animal sounds and different sounds that they can make with their voices, playing games such as bingo. They start to recognise musical sounds and sounds that you can make on your body. They begin to experience patterns rhythm and rhyme and an understanding of alliteration. Also, children start to experience the process of orally blending sounds to make words – e.g. C-A-T makes
Starts with single sounds for each letter of the alphabet. Children learn the letter names and the sound that they make to be able to blend sounds for reading and segment sounds for spelling. They will learn how to blend and segment these sounds into words, thinking about how many sounds are in the word. Then, children move on to double letter sounds such as ck, ll, ff, ss etc. In addition, children will learn how to read common words such as – it, is, go, no, get, back, put, the etc.
Children progress to more complex sounds called digraphs (2 letters making 1 sound), vowel digraphs (2 letters that are vowels, making 1 sound) and trigraphs (3 letters making 1 sound). Again, they learn how to blend and segment sounds into words and start to recognise words that have two syllables. Children will move onto reading ‘trickier’ common words, such as was, will, with etc. They will also practise reading and writing sentences and captions involving these common words and words with the focus sound.
The main focus is to practise blending CVCC/CCVC (words with two adjacent consonants). These adjacent consonant sounds can both be heard when you say the word which makes them different from a digraph. These are words such as – flat, last, crab etc.
Some children can find this tricky. Sometimes, they can miss sounds out (particularly when spelling) because they do not hear the sound such as the n in bend. There will be more common words for children to practise reading and spelling e.g. - you, like, come, some, all etc.
Children learn alternative ways of making sounds that they learnt in phase 3 – e.g. the ai sound in r-ai-n, children will learn another way of making a long a sound, ay as in p-l-ay. Children will also learn split digraphs a-e (game), e-e (scene), i-e (kite), o-e (bone) and u-e (cube).
This is where it starts to get a little bit trickier. This part of the phase introduces children to how some sounds and how they are made, can make an alternative sound – such as ch (like chat) can make a c sound as in (school) or a sh sound as in (chef). Children are taught to use the initial sound that they know and ask themselves if the word makes sense? Then, they use the alternative pronunciation and blend the word to make sense. This can be quite a jump for some children to make as they have to realise that English isn't quite as straightforward as it once seemed.
Another tricky area of phonics is alternative spellings of sounds. This area introduces children to different ways of spelling and enables them to read more difficult vocabulary. Children will learn how to read polysyllabic words (more than one syllable) and these will include alternative pronunciations of sounds. Through the whole of phase 5, children will continue to learn and practice how to read and spell common words.
Reinforces much of the learning from Phase 5 and helps children to develop their ability to read words automatically. This area begins to explore spelling rules and conventions e.g. adding -ing and –ed and introduces children to prefixes and suffixes (words added to the beginning or end of an original word) un-happy (prefix) or child-ish (suffix).
Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment.
The phonics screening check is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonics knowledge. It helps your school confirm whether your child has made the expected progress.
• Your child will sit with a teacher he or she knows and be asked to read 40 words aloud.
• Your child may have read some of the words before, while others will be completely new.
• The check normally takes just a few minutes to complete and there is no time limit. If
your child is struggling, the teacher will stop the check. The check is carefully designed not
to be stressful for your child.
The school will tell you about your child’s progress in phonics and how he or she has done in the screening check in the last half-term of Year 1. If your child has found the check difficult, your child would have support put in place to help him or her improve. You might like to ask how you can support your child to take the next step in reading. All children are individuals and develop at different rates. The screening check ensures that teachers understand which children need extra help with phonic decoding.
At Wembley our mantra is ‘At Wembley We Read Everyday’. Reading is central to our learning and school day. Teachers model reading in class, children are introduced to wide selection of books, reading strategies and comprehension is taught explicitly.
A quality text is used to inspire writing and every class has a ‘class reader’ which is quality time for children to enjoy listening to their teacher read.
Books are graded using colour bands, so that every child is assigned a book of an appropriate level (see document below - Progression of Colour Bands).
Reading for pleasure is developed with an additional choice of ‘free readers’ and a number of engaging events throughout the school calendar, such as author visits, World Book Day and Pyjamarama Day.
In Key Stage 2 (Years 3, 4, 5 and 6) Destination Reader is used to blend a range of learning behaviours and reading strategies which, brought together, allow children to explore and understand texts independently, at a deeper level.
Firstly, children are introduced to three key learning behaviours which foster both engagement and independence.
1. Support and actively listen to others
2. Discuss and explain their ideas
3. Take responsibility for their own/their group’s learning
Once these learning behaviours have been embedded, the children learn 7 key reading strategies in turn which help them deepen their understanding of texts.
3. Asking questions
6. Making connections
By concentrating on one strategy at a time, teachers are able to support and challenge children to develop their skills through high expectations of oral and written use of the strategies. The strategies are then combined as the children progress and applied to different forms of texts such as poetry and non-fiction. These strategies equip children with a robust toolkit to apply when reading across the curriculum and at home.
Elements of Destination Reader are taught in Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2) to prepare children for the transition in Key Stage 2.
Reading Records are a log of children’s reading of their colour banded books at home and are used to communicate with teachers to report how they have read at home, including the child’s enjoyment and comprehension of the book. Parents/careers are expected to listen to children read daily at home and help support them by asking questions. See Reading Record Comments to help you give a comment when signing the reading record.
Please find below a useful link from the BBC with some more tips on supporting reading at home.
At Wembley Primary School we use a variety of reading schemes, including Alpha Kids, Ginn, Badger, Lightning, Oxford Reading Tree, to ensure that children read a range of high quality reading books to engender a love of reading to enable them to become independent readers. In order for children to improve their fluency, the books on offer ensure development of children’s phonological awareness and knowledge of keywords.
See our recommended reading list for pupils from Years 1 - 6. We hope you enjoy reading these books as much as we did.
Click below to access some helpful documents and links:
At Wembley we use high-quality books to inspire children. These books are handpicked by teachers to suit they cohort of children. They are selected from award winning authors (and illustrators) and recommended book lists. The books range from titles such as Orion in the Dark by Emma Yarlett (Year 1), Lila and the Secret of Rain by David Conway (Year 2), Tales of Wisdom and Wonder by Hugh Lupton (Year 3), Gregory Cool by Caroline Binch (Year 4), Journey to Jo’burg by Beverley Naidoo (Year 5) and The Watertower by Gary Crew (Year 6). All books are pitched at a level above children’s ability to access independently. Teachers read these books aloud to model reading, to excite and engage children, as well as helping them access more complex themes and language. Furthermore, children study these texts in more depth during their Reading sessions, immersing themselves in the rich vocabulary.
A range of genres are taught explicitly (for example newspaper reports, diary entry, persuasive letter, narrative story writing, poetry) and children deconstruct these text types to investigate language, style and structure (organisation).
Grammar and punctuation is taught in context to enable children to apply the skills they need for a particular writing genre. Writing outcomes are planned with both an audience and purpose in mind to give children clear direction in terms of language and style. Opportunities are given for speaking and listening so that children rehearse and submerge themselves in the language before writing.
Teachers model the writing process to make explicit the steps in writing and children share their ideas. Children are encouraged to regularly review and improve their writing with opportunities to plan, draft and edit, before publishing their final piece of writing for their Writing Portfolio at the end of each genre.
Treasure Books are used for children to record any new vocabulary, technical words or useful phrases. Children are also encouraged to use dictionaries and thesauruses to improve their writing.
Children are taught groups of words and their spelling patterns. There are also a number of common exception words that they must be able to read and write. These words do not follow any phonetic spelling rules. Children are excepted to learn their spellings weekly and they are then tested on these.
Cursive handwriting is taught using the scheme published by Penpals. Posture, pencil grip and patterns are practiced in class and spellings are also a focus during handwriting sessions. Children are awarded with a pen license from Year 4 onwards, once they have a consistently neat cursive style.