Phonics

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. We use PhonicsPlay to support our teaching.

Intent

In phonics our provision is designed to ensure that all of our children will learn to read well. Phonics is the root for reading that helps our children grow into confident readers with reading for pleasure at the very heart of our reading curriculum. We believe that all children should progress through the phonics phases with fluency and confidence and thus place high importance on high-quality teaching and resources. Phonics and reading are essential tools to access the whole curriculum, to engage and make sense of knowledge and to explore, question and respond to the world. A strong phonics basis enables us to ensure our children flourish as readers and therefore develop socially, emotionally, intellectually and culturally. We offer a structure and sequence of lessons to help teachers ensure  they have covered the skills required to meet the aims of our phonics programme and these lessons are supported by a vast range of high-quality resources.

In order for us to deliver a high-quality synthetic phonics programme we ensure:

  • Correct pronunciation by children and adults
  • A clear understanding of age-related expectations
  • Systematically working through Phases 1-6
  • A multi-sensory approach
  • Games and activities using a range of materials
  • Fully interactive sessions
  • Children are taught to blend phonemes, in order, from left to right, all through the word
  • Children are taught to segment to spell
  • Children use phonics and word-building to learn to read and spell Children learn high-frequency words in sequence
  • Practise and apply: reading words individually and in sentences and texts
  • Practise and apply: spelling words individually and in sentences

Implementation

 Through the teaching of phonics, the children are taught the essential skills needed for reading. Phonics is taught daily to all children to which it applies.

Phonics teaching is systematic, engaging, lively and interactive.

Each phonics lesson includes the following elements:

  • Revise – overlearn the previous graphemes and words
  • Teach – introduce a new grapheme/words
  • Practise – develop GPCs (grapheme phoneme correspondences)/read and spell new words
  • Apply – use new graphemes/words in games and activities to secure knowledge
  • Assess – monitor progress within each phase to inform planning

Staff systematically teach learners the relationship between sounds and the written spelling patterns, or graphemes, which represent them.

In most classes, where it is still an essential feature, phonics is taught through daily whole-class teaching input and small group activities. Staff ensure Phonics is an integrated part of all learning.

Where extra intervention is necessary, this is provided for children throughout Key Stage 2 and 3.

Pupils have regular reading sessions with an adult to ensure they are regularly practising and applying their phonics knowledge. This includes extra one-to-one reading for those children who are most vulnerable to enable them to catch up to meet their targets. In the EYFS the continuous provision matches children’s current knowledge and understanding whilst ensuring the children are suitably challenged.

Teachers regularly assess children’s phonics knowledge using the phonics assessment grids and our online phonics learning ladders tracking system. These regular assessments inform planning and allow teachers to identify any gaps in learning. Children have  phonically decodable reading books matched to their phonics knowledge which they are encouraged to read regularly at home to ensure fluency in reading is developed. Books are chosen from our reading schemes which include a variety of series such as 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.

Impact

We believe that the impact of using our personalised phonics curriculum and progression through the phases will ensure that our children have a good grasp of phonological knowledge and understanding. Staff have high expectations and work closely to develop a firm basis for reading development. CPD provides opportunities to understand the continuity and progression of skills across key stages and phases; skills to model, scaffold and question pupils in order to achieve a deeper level of understanding and vocabulary. Phonics delivery and impact is monitored and assessed regularly by members of the leadership team ensuring a consistent approach.

Reading at Westhaven

At Westhaven, pupils are encouraged to read as much as possible, both at school and at home. Our school library has a wide variety of non-fiction and fiction books and 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. 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 that contain phonetically decodable words as well as words that 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. 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 see the links below:

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