At The Vale early reading is taught through synthetic phonics, as described in ‘Letters and Sounds: Principles and Practice of High Quality Phonics’ and recommended by the government. Throughout Reception and Year 1, children receive daily phonics lessons teaching the 44 phonemes and associated graphemes.
Letters and Sound has 6 Phases, each building upon children’s prior learning. In Phase 1 children work with environmental sounds, learning nursery rhymes and noticing sound patterns such as alliteration and rhyme.
In phase 2 children learn to recognise the sounds represented by a single letter; s, a, t, p, i, n, etc. and to blend them together to form simple words like cat and mop. As children move into Phase 3, they are taught a variety of digraphs where two letters are joined together to make a single sound or phoneme; th, sh, oi, ai, etc.
In line with government requirements, we expect our children to be secure in Phase 3 by the end of their Reception Year.
In Year One, children move forward into Phases 4 and 5, learning to blend and pronounce adjacent consonants (crab, send) and different ways that sounds they are already familiar with can be recorded (rain, play, game, apron). Children are expected to be secure in this phase by the end of Year One.
Synthetic phonics teaches children to recognise sounds and blend them together to form words, and to segment them into sounds to write. In addition, children are taught to sight read common ‘tricky words’; words which cannot be sounded and blended together within the phase they are being taught.
We run phonics intervention groups for children who need extra support in learning to read. These small, focussed groups are run by teachers and learning support assistants trained in teaching synthetic phonics and are used throughout the school. Synthetic phonics is used in Key Stage 2 to help children who need extra support with their reading, perhaps due to being in the process of learning English.
Our reading scheme books are closely linked to the phonics phase that children are learning. We have an extensive home reading library, stocked with Oxford Reading Tree books which includes a range of fiction, comic, non-fiction and poetry books. As the children’s reading skills progress, they become ‘free readers’ and have access to a variety of more challenging books.
Children are encouraged to choose their own books from the band they are working within. We also have a range of books designed to appeal particularly to our boys. It is our aim to foster a love of reading from an early age. Every child also takes home a reading diary, where parents or guardians record reading that has been undertaken at home, with an adult. Each week children who have read a minimum of 5 times at home are rewarded as ‘Star Readers’.
Students at The Vale read with adults both 1:1 and in small group guided reading sessions. These structured groups develop both children’s decoding and comprehension skills, and gives children the opportunity to take part in in-depth discussion about the texts they have shared.
Our literacy lessons are often linked to a class book or series of books on a theme, such as myths and legends or traditional tales. Children throughout the school also take part in author studies, where a range of books by a particular author are studied and compared. This ensures that we provide our children with the opportunity to read a wide range of genres and help them to access books that they might not otherwise engage with.
The Vale offers parent workshops to show parents and carers how reading is taught at the school, enabling parents to work with teachers in supporting their children. We also share information about the National Phonics Screening Test in an additional workshop held for those with children in Year One.
Assessment of Reading
Reading assessment within the school is carried our continually; during 1:1 and guided reading sessions, and through reading comprehension tests as the children progress. Parents are kept informed of the children’s progress through our Stepping Stones assessment and parent information programme.
Teaching and Learning Resources.
http://www.phonicsplay.co.uk/ Phonics Play, free phonics games.
http://www.oxfordowl.co.uk/welcome-back/for-home/reading-owl/kids-barn Free reading resources and activities linked to the school’s reading scheme. Includes tablet friendly e-books.
http://www.galacticphonics.com/ A wealth of games, printable sheets and other resources linked to phonics and grammar.