Phonics (reading and spelling)
At Appleby 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.
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum. We believe that early success in acquiring reading skills usually leads to later successes in reading as the learner grows and develops a life-long love of reading while failing to master key reading skills early in their learning journey can inhibit learning new skills in all areas of the curriculum.
Children who fall behind in reading simply read less which increases the gap between them and their peers. Consequently, when children need to read in order to learn (rather than learning to read), their reading difficulty creates challenges in other subjects. This creates anxiety and can lead to them never realising their full potential. This can follow through to adulthood where young people who learn well tend to become life-long learners who are more likely to excel in their chosen field than those who do not. This is why the efficient and effective learning of reading has to be at the core of our curriculum.
At Appleby Primary School, we want our children to:
- Become fluent, confident and expressive readers who have both the skill and the will to read effectively
- Read with enjoyment across a range of genres
- Read for pleasure as well as for information
- Read and respond to a wide range of different types of literature
- Understand the layout and how to use different genres and text types
- Understand and apply their knowledge of phonics and spelling patterns and use this to decode words with accuracy
- Build their bank of sight words to enable fluent reading
- Have an interest in words and their meanings, developing a rich and varied vocabulary
- Understand and respond to literature drawn from a range of cultures and literary heritage.
We understand the challenge that exists between teaching children to be fluent readers and ensuring that they develop a love of reading. To support this, we have introduced a reading scheme that embeds the key skills of the phonic phases and their sequence of teaching. Our reading curriculum is designed to achieve a balance between developing the skills of reading alongside an enthusiasm for reading. This promotes a love of reading for all children, encouraging life-long readers who have the skills to access all areas of the curriculum with independence and confidence in to secondary school and beyond.
Our reading curriculum aims to develop the cultural capital of all our children. We enhance our curriculum, especially for the most disadvantaged, by providing access to a diverse range of texts including those which promote different socio-economic backgrounds, disabilities, religions and cultures, and periods of history. Each year we plan to provide opportunities for pupils to watch and take part in theatre productions.
Reading at Appleby Primary School is taught systematically. Some teaching strategies are generic across the whole school, whilst others are specific to key stages. Implementation is by the class teacher and is supported by classroom teaching assistants.
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 Phases 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read
- Any child who needs additional practice has daily Keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
- We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 and above who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics screening check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the Rapid Catch-up assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Rapid Catch-up resources – at pace.
- These short, sharp lessons last 15-20 minutes daily and have been designed to ensure children quickly catch up to age-related expectations in reading.
Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week
- We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week. These:
- are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children
- use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids on pages 11–20 of ‘Application of phonics to reading’.
- are monitored by the class teacher, who rotates and works with each group on a regular basis.
- Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. 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.
- In Reception these sessions start in Week 4. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books.
- In Years 2 and 3, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.
- The decodable reading practice book is taken home to ensure success is shared with the family.
- Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to children. We share the research behind the importance and impact of sharing quality children’s books with parents through workshops, leaflets and the Everybody read! resources.
- We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised parents’ resources to engage our families and share information about phonics, the benefits of sharing books, how children learn to blend and other aspects of our provision, both online and through workshops.
Additional reading support for vulnerable children
- Children in Reception and Year 1 who are receiving additional phonics Keep-up sessions read their reading practice book to an adult daily.
Ensuring consistency and pace of progress
- Every teacher in our school has been trained to teach reading, so we have the same expectations of progress. We all use the same language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.
- Weekly content grids map each element of new learning to each day, week and term for the duration of the programme.
- Lesson templates, Prompt cards and ‘How to’ videos ensure teachers all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.
- The Reading Leader and SLT use the Audit and Prompt cards to regularly monitor and observe teaching; they use the summative data to identify children who need additional support and gaps in learning.
Ensuring reading for pleasure
‘Reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s success.’ (OECD 2002)
‘The will influences the skill and vice versa.’ (OECD 2010)
We value reading for pleasure highly and work hard as a school to grow our Reading for Pleasure pedagogy.
- We read to children every day. We choose these books carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the children at Appleby Primary School and our local community as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures.
- Every classroom has an inviting book corner that encourages a love for reading. We curate these books and talk about them to entice children to read a wide range of books.
- In Nursery/Reception, children have access to the reading corner every day in their free flow time and the books are continually refreshed.
- Children from Nursery/Reception onwards have a home reading record. The parent/carer records comments to share with the adults in school and the adults will write in this on a regular basis to ensure communication between home and school.
- As the children progress through the school, they are encouraged to write their own comments and keep a list of the books/authors that they have read.
The school library is made available for classes to use. Children across the school have regular opportunities to engage with a wide range of Reading for Pleasure events (book fairs, author visits and workshops, national events etc).
We use the Everybody read! resources to grow our teachers’ knowledge of current books alongside the most recent research.
Key Stage 2
In Key Stage 2 children learn to become fluent readers with increasingly growing comprehension skills. Children who are in a learning gap are given significant support through daily 1:1 reading and Rapid Reading Interventions to plug both their phonic gaps and reading with an adult for fluency.
Developing Fluent Readers
Staff reading with children on a 1:1 basis, use a Fluency Rubric to determine the most important objective to work on. This is important so that the session is impactful on the learner. This is used in conjunction with the child’s banded reading book and when their banding changes they are reassessed on a new rubric.
Key Stage 2 Reading Skills
These sessions follow a structured cycle. Teachers select texts that will immerse the pupils in their genre for writing. Whole class guided reading is done daily and focuses on the improvement and embedding of fluency, information retrieval and developing and extending inference and deduction skills. This ensures that all pupils have the opportunity to access and enjoy a range of good quality, age appropriate texts and strengthens the link between our approach of Reading as a Writer and Writing as a Reader.
First the text is introduced and subject specific vocabulary discussed to ensure understanding . The text is read as a whole class with the teacher regularly modelling individually and confident and emerging readers reading aloud. Sections of the text are regularly read independently and developing readers are supported with this by the class teacher or a teaching assistant. When reading aloud the focus is on reading fluency (phrasing, expression, smoothness and pace). Questions posed around making predictions and summarising what has been read. Some questions require a written (then shared) response and others a verbal response. The children work with talk partners, small groups and independently. Developing readers are always supported with independent work. Further reading fluency is continuously developed as the children become immersed in the text and questions are regularly posed around making predictions and summarising what has been read.
Retrieval of Information is a key focus of our teaching and learning. Teachers model using the skills required to answer retrieval questions. This will include identifying the key words in the question and having some understanding of where this answer will be found. Scanning the text to find key words and reading around them to find the answer. Emphasis is placed on answering in a concise and accurate manner.
Word meaning and vocabulary is a critical component of reading fluency. Teachers model using the skills required to identifying the key words in the question and understanding the meaning of the words in context by using words and phrases around it. Emphasis is placed on distinguishing between words, phrases and sentences and accurate copying from the text.
As reading fluency develops, the concept of inference is introduced and the skills needed to deduce using evidence from the text is taught and supported. Teacher models using the skills required to identifying clues within the text that lead us to infer something. Emphasis is placed on using evidence from the text to justify inferences. Teachers also use inference prompts to support developing readers and to extend the thinking of fluent readers.
Assessment of Reading:
Independent Comprehension using NFER assessment materials is done each term in both KS1 and KS2. This is a formative assessment and individual question by question data is gather and analysed for each year group and each child which informs whole class planning and identifies any need for individual or small group intervention.
Summative assessment is threaded throughout the whole class guided sessions and used to inform the planning and teaching of reading.
Reading for Pleasure:
All pupils are read to by an adult regularly. Storytime is vital in developing a love of reading and the will to read independently and by choice. In these sessions, staff read aloud books at a higher level than the ability of the pupils to the whole class. They read with passion and excellent fluency modelling what makes a good reader. Staff select books that promote cultural capital and engage the interests of the pupils they teach.
The children are supported in their independent reading for pleasure using banded books which are available in each class. This ensures that appropriate texts chosen and enjoyed as their reading fluency develops.
Our school library is open at lunchtimes for children to come in and read quietly or to change their books. It is organised and staffed on a rota by teachers and children who have volunteered to become librarians. In addition, we have an E-library which give the children and staff access to hundreds of good quality texts that can be used in lessons via a smartboard or simply read at home for pleasure on their own device.
We believe that reading is key to all learning and the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of statutory assessments. Children have the opportunity to enter the wide and varied worlds that reading opens up to them. As they develop their own interest in books, a deep love of literature across a range of genres, cultures and styles is provided.
Through the systematic teaching of phonics and reading skills, our aim is for children to become fluent and confident readers who can apply their knowledge and experience to a range of texts through the Key Stage 2 curriculum and beyond.
A Year 6 reader, transitioning into secondary school, will be a fluent, confident and able readers, who can access a range of texts for pleasure and enjoyment, as well as use their reading skills to unlock learning across all areas of the curriculum.
Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.
- Assessment for learning is used:
- daily within class to identify children needing Keep-up support
- weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.
- Summative assessment for Reception and Year 1 is used:
- every six weeks to assess progress, to identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed, to identify any children needing additional support and to plan the Keep-up support that they need.
- by SLT and scrutinised through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker, to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.
- Fluency assessments measure children’s accuracy and reading speed in short one-minute assessments. They are used:
- in Year 1, when children are reading the Phase 5 set 3, 4 and 5 books
- with children following the Rapid Catch-up programme in Years 2 to 6, when they are reading the Phase 5 set 3, 4 and 5 books
- to assess when children are ready to exit their programme. For Year 1 children, this is when they read the final fluency assessment at 60–70+ words per minute. Older children can exit the Rapid Catch-up programme when they read the final fluency assessment at 90+ words per minute. At these levels, children should have sufficient fluency to tackle any book at age-related expectations. After exiting their programme, children do not need to ready any more fully decodable books.
- A placement assessment is used:
- with any child new to the school in Reception and Year 1 to quickly identify any gaps in their phonic knowledge and plan and provide appropriate extra teaching.
- The Rapid Catch-up assessment is used
- with any child new to the school in Year 2 and above to quickly identify any gaps in their phonic knowledge and plan and provide appropriate extra teaching.
- Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics screening check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.
Ongoing assessment for Rapid Catch-up in Years 2 to 6
- Children in Year 2 to 6 are assessed through:
- the Rapid Catch-up initial assessment to quickly identify any gaps in their phonic knowledge and plan appropriate teaching
- the Rapid Catch-up summative assessments to assess progress and inform teaching
- the Rapid Catch-up fluency assessments when children are reading the Phase 5 set 3, 4 and 5 books for age 7+.
- The fluency assessments measure children’s accuracy and reading speed in short
one-minute assessments. They also assess when children are ready to exit the Rapid Catch-up programme, which is when they read the final fluency assessment at 90+ words per minute.
KS1 and 2 Reading Assessment
- Termly formation NFER reading comprehensions to assess fluency and the ability to retrieve information and use inference effectively.
- Individual and year group data is analysed and used to inform planning and provide timely intervention where it is needed.