Phonics is taught to classes from Nursery through to the end of Year 2. In Nursery it starts with phase 1 where children are taught to make and identify sounds, listen to stories, join in songs and learn nursery rhymes. We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds scheme of work, which follows ‘Letters and Sounds’; this scheme is enhanced by tricky words songs, phonics play websites, concrete phonics games and Grapheme cards. Phonics vocabulary is used throughout lessons and children learn the meanings of words such as phonemes, graphemes, prefixes, suffixes, vowels, consonants, nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Phonics is taught through mastery giving the children plenty of opportunities to read and write phonetically and develop their knowledge of tricky words. Throughout the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) phonics activities are available both inside and outside to accommodate a child’s preferred learning environment.
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.
Reciprocal Reading is 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, question generating and summarising are all a main focus throughout. Even drawing images shows children’s understanding of what they have just read or heard. Teachers regularly review progress made and adjust the reading band accordingly. Children are also given a Big Cat book 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 are giving reading a huge push this year and are creating a reading culture across the school. We encourage everyone to read for pleasure, both at school and at home. Pupils have been set the challenge of reading 5 times a week at home and prizes and praise are given weekly in our celebratory assembly. 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.