Phonics & Reading
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.? Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
The English national curriculum (2014) states that:
‘The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment.’
We believe the exposure of children’s literature within the primary school setting is vital as a rich context for learning; not only within English as a subject but to support building a reading culture throughout the school.
In our writing topics, we aim to use high quality books as a stimulus that offer opportunities for empathy and can aid philosophical enquiry. In these books children see their cultures, families and relationships reflected, as a means of developing the spoken language requirements through debate, drama and discussion using the issues raised through, and within, the text.
The school has adopted the DFE accredited Essential Letters and Sounds scheme for its discrete teaching of phonics in EYFS and KS1.
Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) provides a complete training package for all members of staff to embed a consistent approach to teaching mnemonics and lesson structure. Oldfield chose ELS as we felt it to be rigorous, engaging and that it supported teachers and Teaching Assistants to ensure that the lowest attaining children keep up rather than ‘catch up.’
Phonics is taught in a daily lesson of 25 minutes. In year 1 and year 2 the 4 classes are streamed into 5 sets so that the learning can be targeted to each child’s ability while retaining the expectation that all children will keep up with the age related expectations. Half termly assessments allow the teachers to pinpoint individuals who need more support and allow fluidity within the sets. Further interventions are carried out in the afternoons for those that need extra input.
Similarly, in Reception, the 2 classes are streamed into 4 groups to adapt the delivery to each child’s need. Teaching Assistants also take a phonics group and are also trained to deliver the ELS scheme. In Nursey, the children begin with Phase 1 which is taught by the classteacher through rhymes, awareness of sounds and music.
Our reading books are graded using the ‘Book Bands’ system. We use the Oxford Reading Tree as a scheme for younger readers.
Within this, we have adopted the Oxford Owl Scheme of books that are matched to each child's level of phonics. This means that children are able to be allocated books that are suitable for them to decode while reinforcing the phonics skills they are currently learning.
In KS1, Guided Reading is whole-class based with an emphasis on speaking and listening. Initially, we are aiming for the children to be able to retell off by heart, sequence and discuss popular and common short stories. We believe an understanding and appreciation of texts needs to be developed early, in readiness for when their decoding skills are good enough to access the written texts themselves.
The ability to memorise stories is vital for our children so they will rehearse, add actions and perform these stories to their peers. This will support children to develop their speaking and listening skills which, in turn, will help them to become better story writers and ability to inference. Lessons follow a two week cycle:
Week one will involve introducing the story and expanding their vocabulary by explicitly highlighting new words, synonyms and their meanings. By the end of this week, children will know the story inside out.
Week two will include an opportunity for children to talk about the text chosen and their understanding of the story or topic. Children will discuss literal understanding and deeper layers of meaning such as inferring from the text and identifying themes, character traits and motivations.
As children develop their word recognition through phonics lessons, they will begin to access more written comprehension activities as they progress through the key stage.
Discrete Teaching of Reading-KS2
In Key Stage 2, Reading comprehension is taught in addition to other English lessons as a whole class model where the majority of children follow the same text. Themes, ideas and inferences are discussed as a whole class and work is tailored to different abilities where necessary. This means that all children are able to explore the rich ideas in quality literature from books that they may not be able to access on their own.
The planning for KS2 whole class Reading is taken from The Literacy Tree’s planning: Literacy Leaves. These texts are chosen for their particular appeal and relevance to the children.
Each class has a large set of fiction and non-fiction books that can be borrowed by the children and read at home.
In addition, the Hounslow Library Service send a regular set of books each term that support the topics covered in each class. These are used, in class, to research areas of the wider curriculum.