What is Phonics and early reading like at Elworth Hall?
We begin our phonics lessons, with all children, in the second week of the Autumn term to help establish routines and set up behaviours for learning. All children should progress through the GPCs in order through each of the terms. If children need additional practice, they will do this in small or individual groups, outside of the main teaching.
We use the Summer term assessments from Foundation Class to identify gaps in learning. We use this information to supplement the consolidation of Phases 3 and 4 in the first four weeks of the Autumn term. This will ensure that all children are secure before they start learning the Phase 5 GPCs.
Reading underpins the access to the curriculum for all children and it clearly impacts on their achievement. There is considerable research to show that children who enjoy reading and choose to read benefit not only academically, but also socially and emotionally. To be able to read, children need to be taught an efficient strategy to decode words. That strategy is phonics. It is essential that children are actively taught and supported to use phonics as the only approach to decoding. Phonic decoding skills are used in 3 group reading sessions per week. Each child will be grouped based upon assessments and will take part in reading, prosody and comprehension sessions each week.
Phonics and Early Reading Intent, Implementation and Impact
At Elworth Hall, we aspire to do our best and for all our pupils to become fluent readers and writers. Our aims are for pupils to:
- Build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.
- Be equipped to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read.
- Read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure.
- See themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose.
- Be taught fidelity to the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme
- We teach a synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in Foundation Class and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression.
- We 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.
Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. In Foundation, 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 Foundation: 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.
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 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 Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Keep-up resources – at pace.
- If any child in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least twice 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 Foundation Class 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 Year 2, 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.
Children’s progress in phonics is continually reviewed through assessment. This 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 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.
- The Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised placement assessment is used with any child new to the school to quickly identify any gaps in their phonic knowledge and plan 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 catch-up
Children in Year 2 to 6 are assessed through:
- their teacher’s ongoing formative assessment or
- the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds placement assessment the appropriate half-termly assessments.
At Elworth Hall, the quality teaching of Phonics results in:
- Pupils being able to master phonics to read and spell as they move through school.
- Pupils becoming confident readers and developing this a crucial life skill
- Pupils seeing themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose
- Develop resilience and perseverance