Phonics at Westhaven

At Westhaven, we teach phonics using the Letters and Sounds programme, supported by the use of Jolly Phonics kinaesthetic actions and stories for our younger pupils. In Lower and Middle School, pupils are grouped according to phonics knowledge and graphemes are revised daily.

As children move through the early stages of acquiring phonics, they practice by reading texts which are entirely decodable for them from the Rigby Star Phonics, Dandelion, Oxford Reading Tree and Jelly & Bean schemes. We have also introduced a range of high interest / low level phonics books aimed at our older pupils which are fantasy stories from the Totem, Talisman and Alba ranges from Phonic Books.

Phonics is used by all staff across all areas of the curriculum to reinforce learning in reading and spelling.

Reading at Westhaven

At Westhaven, pupils are encouraged to read as much as possible, both at school and at home. The newly refurbished library has a wide variety of non-fiction and fictions books and we have an annual subscription to First News, the weekly newspaper aimed at school children.  There is a Reading Club at lunchtimes and all pupils have one dedicated lesson per week in the library as part of their English lessons.

All children are encouraged to select books from the classroom, library or home to share with their parents to encourage a love of reading.

Once children can read fluently and with a good understanding, they self-select books for independent reading from the school library or from home. Pupils can also access Bug Club e-books at school and at home from a personalized selection made by the teacher. All pupils in Lower School have a reading bag and reading book on the go to encourage reading at home.

We also run our Better Reading Partners scheme, which is organised and run by a parent volunteer. This involves volunteers coming into school on a regular basis to listen to our less confident readers read on a one-to-one basis. During these sessions, the majority of pupils read books at their phonics level. However, some of our pupils struggle to read phonetically, so we use these sessions (in addition to their phonics sessions in lessons) to enable them to access books which contain phonetically decodable words as well as words which are not entirely decodable. Using this top-bottom approach alongside the bottom-top approach of our phonics scheme has been very successful. It ensures that those pupils who do not grasp phonics as quickly as others still see improvements in their reading ability, which in turn improves confidence.

Reading is a fundamental part of the English curriculum. All pupils in Lower and Middle School have a reading target for each term which is clearly displayed at the front of their books. Pupils are encouraged to have a book “on the go” at all times and staff are active in encouraging a love of reading by sharing their own reading preferences in lessons and during assemblies. Pupils are formally assessed in reading at the beginning and end of each academic year and informally assessed throughout the year by the class teacher using the Westhaven Reading Learning Ladder. Any pupils struggling to make expected progress are assigned reading intervention with our intervention specialist.

If you would like further information or would like to know how you can help your child with reading and phonics please contact Mrs Payne.

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