At St. Johns C of E Primary and Nursery School, we are committed to the delivery of excellence in the teaching of Phonics. We are passionate about ensuring all children become confident readers and writers. Phonics is a key skill that supports the development of early reading skills and our mission is to teach every child to read and write and to keep them reading.
Our shared vision is that every pupil learns to read quickly and continues to read – widely and often. We teach phonics using the Read Write Inc Programme and the programme is followed with fidelity by all staff when teaching early reading.
In Read Write Inc. Phonics pupils:
Five key principles underpin the teaching in all Read Write Inc. sessions:
Purpose – know the purpose of every activity and share it with the children, so they know the one thing they should be thinking about
Participation – ensure every child participates throughout the lesson. Partnership work is fundamental to learning
Praise – ensure children are praised for effort and learning, not ability
Pace – teach at an effective pace and devote every moment to teaching and learning
Passion – be passionate about teaching so children can be engaged emotionally.
The main focus in nursery is language comprehension as we believe it is vital to embed oral activities at an early stage.
When appropriate, the Nursery children are introduced to a carpet partner and are encouraged to turn to their partner to share ideas and answers. This leads into what will be expected of them later in Reception when they will begin more formal Read, Write, Inc sessions. Other simple, classroom management signals are introduced to the children as early as possible. The children also experience lots of ‘Fred Talk’ (oral segmenting) and oral sound and language games. Before teaching the first 30 sounds explicitly, we look at the Read, Write, Inc frieze chart and learn about the pictures and what we can see in them, emphasising the sound at the start of the picture.
Reception and KS1
From Reception and into Year 1, we emphasise the alphabetic code. The pupils rapidly learn sounds and the letter or groups of letters they need to represent them. Simple mnemonics help them to grasp this quickly. This is especially useful for pupils at risk of making slower progress. This learning is consolidated daily. Pupils have frequent practice in reading common exception words. (Red Words)
Groupings are reviewed regularly, according to their progress in reading rather than their writing. This is because it is known that pupils’ progress in writing will lag behind progress in reading, especially for those whose motor skills are less well developed.
We make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and the common exception words. This is so that, early on, they experience success and gain confidence in the fact that they are readers. The children re-reading and discuss these books and reading teachers support their increasingly fluent decoding.
Alongside this, the teachers read a wide range of stories, poetry and non-fiction to pupils so that our children are soon able to read these texts for themselves.
Embedding the alphabetic code early on means that pupils quickly learn to write simple words and sentences. We encourage them to compose each sentence aloud until they are confident to write independently. We make sure they write every day.
Pupils write at the level of their spelling knowledge. The quality of the vocabulary they use in their writing reflects the language they have heard in the books the teacher has read to them; they will also have also discussed what the words mean.
Our aim is for pupils to complete the phonics programme as quickly as possible. The sooner they complete it, the sooner they will be able to choose books to read at their own interest and comprehension level.
Once pupils are off the programme they are taught in their year group using the Year 1 National Curriculum objectives.
Teachers ensure that pupils:
Lessons integrate reading, writing, thinking, and spoken language activities, to ensure the daily development of children’s comprehension and wider literacy skills.
Comprehension activities are planned to help children to understand new vocabulary, infer, predict, explain, retrieve and summarise texts. The children also make connections between texts and their own experiences.
Pupils are taught the importance of using grammar correctly, so they can communicate clearly and convey their meaning effectively. Grammar is often taught within the context of the texts being studied to ensure it is meaningful for children.
Pupils are taught to articulate their thoughts and ideas out loud and to communicate what they know and understand. Pupils answer questions with a partner, comment on each other’s ideas, clarify each other’s thinking, and build upon each other’s thoughts and ideas. The teacher asks questions to take their thinking further and clears up any misconceptions. Partner discussion helps teachers assess what and how pupils are learning throughout the lesson.
We assess all pupils following Read Write Inc. Phonics using the Entry Assessment. We use this data to assign them to a Read Write Inc. Phonics group. This gives us a very good indication of how well they are making progress relative to their starting points. We do this for all pupils, whenever they join us, so we can track all of them effectively, including those eligible for the pupil premium.
For those on the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme, we record their starting date and entry point to monitor the rate at which they are making progress. We can also easily identify those who joined the programme later.
In addition, we use a standardised reading test (Salford) for children nearing the end of the RWI programme. This is so that we can ensure that the gains our pupils are making are age-appropriate.
We have high expectations of our pupils’ progress. Pupils who are making slower progress usually complete the programme by the end of Year 1. We support pupils who have identified special educational needs for however long it takes until they can read. For example, we identify those who are at risk of falling behind their peers immediately – whatever their age.
We use the Read Write Inc Fast Track Tutoring intervention to support any children falling behind to quickly catch up and keep up with their peers. We also use the Read Write Virtual Classroom to support children who made need further consolidation in addition to their daily lessons.
By the end of Key Stage 1, the majority of our pupils are able to read aloud age-appropriate texts accurately and with sufficient speed for comprehension. This means that we can focus on developing their comprehension, preparing them well for transition to Key Stage 2. Their good decoding skills mean that they have a sound strategy for decoding unfamiliar words when they come across them at whatever stage or in any subject, even into secondary school. The RWI programme as a whole has been very effective for our pupils in narrowing performance gaps between different groups, both within our school.
At St. John’s all of our staff are enthusiastic about using the Read Write Inc. programme because they can see how well pupils learn from it and the progress they make, not just in English, but across the curriculum.
Through implementing the above and careful monitoring from the Phonics lead, Reading coordinator and Headteacher, St. John’s pupils:
What do Phonics lessons look like in school?
We teach phonics every day and we follow the Read Write Inc teaching programme. This is split into two main parts; 1. Speed Sounds and Spelling and 2. Reading and Writing.
In the first part of the session (Speed Sounds and Spelling) the children begin to learn the English alphabetic code: first they learn one way to read the 40+ sounds and blend these sounds into words, they then learn to read the same sounds with alternative graphemes. They learn a new sound every day and regularly review the sounds they have been taught. They then practise spelling words containing the newly taught grapheme as well as reviewing known graphemes and tricky words.
In the second part of the session (Reading and Writing), we use phonetically decodable books which are closely matched to the children’s increasing knowledge of phonemes and their corresponding graphemes and ‘tricky’ words. As the children re-read the books, their fluency increases. The children also write every day, rehearsing out loud what they want to say, before spelling words using the graphemes and ‘tricky’ words they know and composing and writing sentences. Children’s composition (ideas, vocabulary and grammar) is developed by drawing on their own experiences and talking about the stories they have read before composing their own pieces of writing which will increase in length as they progress through the programme.
What else is happening in Phonics this year?
Attainment in phonics is measured by the National Phonics Screening Check which takes place each year in June.
Our Phonics Screening Check results are significantly above those of both local and national averages.
Phonics at Home
Where else can I find more information?
Oxford Owl is a free website with lots of information about reading and phonics (as well as other subjects). There are free e-books and other downloadable resources.
The below links are a good place to start: