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Reading and Phonics

Reading and Phonics
Reading at St Patrick’s takes the highest priority, which is why it is placed it at the centre of our curriculum. Every child in our school is a reader and so are our teachers. As a school and staff, we understand the importance of developing children’s discrete word-reading skills and comprehension, but also the need to foster a passion and love for books and reading. These two elements are innately linked and rely on each other if children are to become life-long readers. At St Patrick’s, this is embedded in our school culture which begins as soon as children enter Nursery and continues throughout key stages one and two.

Learning to read

In the development of reading in our younger children, the school follows the progressive and comprehensive phonics scheme – Letters and Sounds. This scheme sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting in nursery, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers. Furthermore, this scheme is complimented by our Letter-Join handwriting scheme.

When children first join the school in nursery, they begin their reading learning journey in Phase 1 through short whole class sessions. In addition, activities are set up within areas of the classroom; these have a phonics focus to enable children to practise their phonics skills. Phase 1 concentrates on developing children's speaking and listening skills with the aim to attune children to the sounds around them. In doing so, children are being prepared to begin to develop oral blending and segmenting skills.

In reception, children will move systematically through phases 2, 3 and 4 within discreet phonics sessions, which are taught daily. Following daily sessions, opportunities are made throughout the day for children to practise their letters and sounds and this is supported in the books they read at school and at home to really reinforce the learning. At St Patrick’s, we believe reading is not just a subject, it is a gateway to learning and inherently embedded in our school culture. We endeavour to seize every occasion to instil knowledge.

Phase 2: in Phase 2, letters and their sounds are introduced one at a time. A set of letters is taught each week in a set sequence. The children will look to move from oral blending and segmentation to blending and segmenting with letters. They will learn to blend and segment to begin reading and spelling. This will begin with simple words. By the end of the phase,
many children should be able to read some VC (vowel, consonant e.g. at) and CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant e.g. cat) words and to spell them. They will also learn to read some high frequency ‘tricky’ words.

Phase 3: by the time they reach Phase 3, children will already be able to blend and segment words containing the 19 letters taught in Phase 2. This phase will expand on a further 25 graphemes incrementally, with a heavy focus on two letters e.g. ‘oa’ and ‘ar’, to allow children to represent each phoneme by a grapheme. In addition, children will gain knowledge of some trigraphs. Children will also continue to practise blending and segmenting when reading and spelling words and captions. Further tricky words will be introduced for them to read and also begin to learn to spell.

Phase 4: the purpose of this phase is to consolidate children’s knowledge of what they have learnt in the previous phases. At this stage, children will be able to represent each of 42 phonemes with a grapheme. They will blend phonemes to read CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words and segment CVC words for spelling. They will also be able to read simple two syllable words, read all the tricky words learnt so far and spell some of them. An emphasis will be placed here on teaching children that blending is only used when a word is unfamiliar.

Year 1
In year 1, children will continue their phased phonics learning through their daily sessions. Through assessment, children, who are not ready for this phase will receive additional support and intervention but continue to learn sequentially. As in Reception, these daily sessions will be reinforced across the curriculum throughout the day.
Phase 5: children will begin by consolidating Phase 4 to ensure knowledge is retained and embedded. Following this, teaching will focus on broadening the children’s knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and spelling. Children will be taught new graphemes and alternative pronunciations for these graphemes and graphemes they already know. At this stage, we would expect children to be automatically decoding a large number of words for reading and be reading words fluently, no longer blending and segmenting familiar words.

Year 2
In year 2, children will move into Phase 6 of the Letters and Sounds programme and again assessment will be made to support children, who are not ready for this phase, through targeted phase sequenced support.

Phase 6: at this stage, we expect children be able to spell words phonemically, although not always correctly. Children will become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers. Through this, they will be able to read many familiar words automatically and when they come across unfamiliar words, they will be able to decode them quickly using their taught sounding and blending skills. Suffixes and basic grammar strategies will be introduced at this point and the texts will be longer. In addition, less familiar texts will be presented, with an expectation of greater independency and fluency. In this, there should be a clear shift from learning to read to reading to learn.

Once children complete the programme and have been assessed, they will move to a daily guided reading session in which they will develop their reading and comprehension skills. Guided reading will be led by the class teachers and children will be supported by both teachers and teaching assistants in one-to one reading sessions throughout the week.

Reading at Key Stage 2 (KS2)
At St Patrick’s, we believe that every child deserves the chance to become a reader and we continue this into KS2 with daily guided reading sessions. Through this, children deepen their understanding of texts that are carefully selected to ensure they are both motivating and challenging and are supported to make progress in reading in line with the national curriculum targets for each year. Guided reading is a powerful way of engaging children with texts that will resonate with their interests and capture their imagination. Within each year group, children will have the chance to encounter a wide range of genres to broaden their experience, form opinions about both books and authors, and ultimately comprehend the text. Additionally, children will be supported in one-to-one reading sessions by teachers and teaching assistants.

Children will continue to take home an appropriate reading book from recommended reading schemes and our school library is regularly monitored and updated to ensure children have a variety of genres, including classics and new publications. Additional to this, each class has its own class selection of books age appropriate and relating to school topics across the curriculum. Children at KS2 are encouraged to also select their own book from the class selection to allow children to explore their interests.

In reading, our teachers, and their passion for reading, is our greatest vehicle in inspiring a love of reading in our pupils. Each day, time is set aside for teachers to model the reading process to the whole class as an expert reader. Texts selected are rich and challenging, however they can be beyond the current reading ability of the majority of the class. In this, the teacher will demonstrate specific reading strategies but also demonstrate their own enjoyment and passion for reading to the children. Further activities are promoted to encourage reading for pleasure across the school. These include celebrations of World Book Day, Roald Dahl Day and author visits to school.

Reading at home

As a school we activity promote reading in all aspects of our children’s lives including home. We expect parents to read or engage with their child in the books that are sent home from the recommended reading scheme, and through school planners, we encourage a dialogue between teachers and parents to support in their child’s learning.

Furthermore, each child has a personal account with Reading Eggs. Reading Eggs is a reading programme accessed online, which consists of many e-books for children. These books cover a wide range of genres to suit children of all ages and reading levels. When first accessing the programme, children complete a placement test to accurately match them to their required level. Books will then be targeted at individual levels and children will complete engaging online literacy activities designed to improve their English language and comprehension skills in a way that is both exciting and relevant.