Reading and Phonics
Reading is at the heart of pupil’s experience of school life and is recognised as such throughout the school. At Thundridge Primary School, we believe that all our pupils can become able and fluent readers and writers. The teaching of reading begins at the earliest opportunity with children in Nursery listening to the sounds in the environments around them, listening to stories and becoming familiar with text that may surround them in their everyday lives. This progresses to the teaching of phonics from Reception up until year 2. Pupils who complete the phonics scheme progress by applying their phonics knowledge to spelling. They learn how the sounds they have learnt in phonics can fit spelling rules which they use to develop further independence with their writing.
At Thundridge, we have carefully selected the phonics scheme ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ which is a Department of Education approved synthetic phonics programme. We follow the progression of this scheme which ensure that’s pupils build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. Children in EYFS and KS1 take part in 3 reading sessions a week. During these sessions the children read carefully matched phonics books and follow the structure of reading for fluency (day 1), reading for prosody (day 2) and reading for comprehension (day 3). In KS2 this progresses to whole class reading sessions that follow a similar pattern but are less structured in their format week on week.
At Thundridge, we also 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.
At Thundridge we value reading as a crucial life skill. Pupils learn how to become readers for both purpose and pleasure and are capable of selecting books that both challenge and engage them, with support from teachers and teaching assistants. Our goal is to inspire an appreciation of our rich and varied literary heritage.
In Reception and Year 1, we teach phonics for 30 minutes a day, following the ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ scheme of work. 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 Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy. Any child who needs additional practice has daily Keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 or 3 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 three times a week.
Once children are secure with their phonics and are reading fluently they begin spelling sessions at least three times a week using the Essentials Spelling scheme. Children from Reception to Year 2 take part in group reading sessions three times a week. These are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children. We use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills: decoding, prosody and comprehension. The decodable reading practice book is sent home to be read with parents and carers. Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to children in Reception and Y1. Children in year 2 may also receive these books if they have not passed the phonics screening check and are not yet fluent with their decoding skills. Children in KS2 also take part in at least three whole class reading sessions per week with a focus on reading fluency and comprehension.
Children from Reception onwards have a home reading record and take home a reading book matched to their phonics knowledge. 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.
In EYFS and KS1 we select our ‘Favourite 5’ books each half term. These are books that we read frequently to the children so that they become familiar with the patterns of language and features used in oral story-telling. All age groups are read to every day by adults and this is planned into our daily timetables. We select books for class readers carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the children at our 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 across the school have regular opportunities to engage with a wide range of Reading for Pleasure events (book fairs, author visits and workshops, World Book Day etc).