Phonics (reading and spelling)
At New Bolsover Primary School, we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in Nursery/Reception and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.
As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At New Bolsover Primary School, we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
Foundations for phonics in Nursery
- We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and language’ and ‘Literacy’. These include:
- sharing high-quality stories and poems
- learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
- activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
- attention to high-quality language.
- We ensure Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.
Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
- We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
- Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term.
- We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress:
- Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
- Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week
- We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week.
- The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:
- prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
- comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.
We use the Big Cat Reading scheme produced by Collins, starting in Reception up to Year 6. This is a fantastic scheme, because it has a wide variety of books and genres, covering fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The topics really appeal to the children and many of the books are also linked to topics pupils cover through the subjects of the National Curriculum.
Once children have completed Little Wandle Letters and Sounds, reading continues to be taught across the school, where we focus on the learners’ fluency of reading and understanding of the text. Comprehension skills such as inference, prediction, clarifying, retrieval and summarising are all a main focus throughout. Teachers regularly review progress made and adjust the reading band accordingly. Children are also provided with a selection of ebooks from the scheme to read at home-either with parents or independently; we advise children to read their books twice as this helps their fluency and understanding.
We always give reading a huge push to create a reading culture across the school. Interactive story times occur regularly and we encourage everyone to read for pleasure, both at school and at home. Pupils who read consistently at home are awarded prizes and praise is given.
Reading is also practised across the curriculum, e.g. in maths, history, geography and science. By reading more widely, pupils are exposed to lots of powerful vocabulary-words they might not have met before. Reading tiers across school promote vocabulary and children are encouraged to clarify the meanings, use them in their writing and find synonyms. In addition, children are encouraged to look at how words are formed when reading, so as to help with their spellings. We ask children to read everything aloud-this helps them to focus on the words, to understand them better, to hear when they’ve made a mistake and correct themselves, to remember information and it gives them time to practise their tone and expression-even when reading maths problems.
We use Talk for Writing across school to develop speaking and listening, reading and writing. The Talk for Writing approach enables children to read and write independently for a variety of audiences and purposes within different subjects. A key feature is that children internalise the language structures needed to write through ‘talking the text’, as well as close reading. The approach moves from dependence towards independence, with the teacher using shared and guided teaching to develop the ability in children to write creatively and powerfully. Linking in with reading and the reading tiers, powerful vocabulary is drawn out from the children and makes their writing exciting and clever. We have used Talk for Writing for the last few years now and it has proved very successful-our results show that it makes a real difference to pupil outcomes in English.