What are our overall aims of reading at St.Patrick’s?
Here at St.Patrick’s, we believe that learning to read is one of the most important things your child will learn at our school. Everything else depends on it, so we put as much energy as we possibly can into making sure that every single child learns to read as quickly as possible.
We want our children in our school to:
- to love reading and to read for pleasure and enjoyment
- to enjoy reading books
- make choices about the sorts of texts they enjoy
- read between the lines and behind the images
- read fluently and with understanding a range of different kinds of reading material, using reading methods that are appropriate to the material and the reading purpose
- use a full range of reading cues (phonics, grammar and context)
- to gain library skills
- to use reading skills to search for information
How we teach reading
First and foremost, we want your child to love reading – and to want to read for themselves. This is why we work hard to make sure children develop a love of books as well as simply learning to read.
In Foundation Stage reading skills are taught using a wide range of reading materials. In Nursery children are taught how to handle books. They learn that all print carries meaning and begin to develop an understanding of story structure and characters through adults sharing and discussing books. Children are given further opportunities to develop an enjoyment of reading through the use of story sacks, listening to rhymes, jingles and stories using headphones and adult led daily story sessions. for children who are ready we begin our Phonics teaching.
We continue the teaching of phonics in Reception using the highly successful Letters and Sounds programme. We have a highly structured approach for the children so it is clear what sounds they will learn in every year group and in every half term. Children learn how to ‘read’ the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down. This is essential for reading, but it also helps children learn to spell well.
The children also practise reading (and spelling) ‘tricky words’, such as ‘once,’ ‘have,’ ‘said’ and ‘where’. Once children can blend sounds together to read words, they practise reading books that match the phonics and the ‘tricky words’ they know. They start to believe they can read and this does wonders for their confidence.
Teachers regularly read to the children, too, so the children get to know and love all sorts of stories, poetry and information books. This helps to extend children’s vocabulary and comprehension, as well as supporting their writing.
Up until the end of Year 2, your child will work with children who are at the same reading level. This is so that the teaching can be focussed on their needs. We check children’s reading skills regularly so we that we can ensure that their books are well matched to their needs. Children will move to a different level if they are making faster progress or may have one-to-one support if we think they need some extra help. Teachers assess each child’s reading age twice a year using the Suffolk Reading test. This, along with other evidence, helps teachers to deliver effective reading programmes to improve skills and confidence.
In the summer term, the government asks us to complete phonics check of all the Year 1 children. Parents are informed of these outcomes.
Of course Phonics is important but the children also need to develop other skills and our reading scheme supports the children to develop other strategies so they develop as a well-rounded reader and they can read using a variety of skills.
What does reading look like at St.Patrick’s?
Reading is and always will be central to the development of a child’s learning journey and as a school we have invested heavily so the children have access to high quality resources.
In Foundation Stage we teach phonics through daily sessions using Letters and Sounds. Children are taught listening skills from Nursery and the skill of segmenting and blending orally.
In Key Stage 1 we ensure systematic teaching with opportunities to practice and apply in the context of reading, individual and guided reading and all areas of writing. We use a structured programme called “Letters and Sounds” so that by the end of Year 1 children have exceeded government expectations. Our core reading scheme is Big Cat phonics. Your child will move through the scheme as they show good understanding of what they have read. For those children who are struggling with phonics we have additional phonics support books and activities.
During their time in KS2 children, children also use a mixture of Collins and Oxford Reading Tree schemes. These books are colour coded and match the reading ability of the child. When a child reads the reading age of 12 years old, we consider them to become a Free Reader where they chose more challenging books from the school library. the purpose of teaching children to read isn’t to restrict them, its t set them free so they love exploring the world of books.
Throughout school reading skills are also taught using a wide range of materials. Children develop reading skills through daily guided reading, shared reading and individual reading sessions.
In addition to class based reading, children can also develop their enjoyment for reading throughout school. They have the opportunity to access the school library to choose from a wider range of books on a weekly basis. There are several reading areas around school which children can access freely and every classroom has a reading area which further promotes and encourages reading for pleasure.
What is Phonics?
Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them to read and write. It runs alongside other teaching such as Guided Reading and English lessons, and discrete Grammar and Spelling sessions to ensure the skills are transferred in to all areas of learning.
Children are taught all the sounds of the English language. There are 42 main letter sounds, this includes alphabet sounds as well as digraphs. The children learn the phoneme and grapheme for each. At this stage the children also learn how to form and write the each one.
The 42 letter sounds are taught in a particular order, known as phases (not alphabetically), enabling children to begin building words as early as possible. There are 6 phases in the Letters and Sounds programme.
Children are then taught how to blend the sounds together to read and segment words in order to spell.
Some words have irregular spellings and are referred to as tricky words. The children learn these separately.
Phonics at St.Patrick’s
At St. Patrick’s Phonics is taught for 20 minutes each day throughout EYFS and Key Stage 1 and into the start of Key Stage 2. The programme is built on through school enabling the teaching of essential spelling, grammar and punctuation skills (SPAG).
Children are grouped across EYFS and Key Stage 1 according the Phase they are working at. Please note that due to Covid Phonics lessons are currently being taught separately in each class/bubble. Groups within each class will formed where possible.
At St. Patrick’s we use the Phonics scheme of Letters and Sounds. Letters and Sounds is a recognised and accredited scheme which is approved by the DFE. The sessions are made up of activities related to the specific phase the children are working on.
When the children are learning the new sounds in Phonics lessons, these are split and taught in phases.
Phase 1 of Letters and Sounds concentrates on developing children’s speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for the phonic work which starts in Phase 2. The emphasis during Phase 1 is to get children attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.
In Phase 2, letters and their sounds are introduced one at a time. A set of letters is taught each week, in the following sequence:
Set 1: s, a, t, p
Set 2: i, n, m, d
Set 3: g, o, c, k
Set 4: ck, e, u, r
Set 5: h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss
As soon as each set of letters is introduced, children will be encouraged to use their knowledge of the letter sounds to blend and sound out words. For example, they will learn to blend the sounds s-a-t to make the word sat. They will also start learning to segment words. For example, they might be asked to find the letter sounds that make the word tap from a small selection of magnetic letters.
By the time they reach Phase 3, children will already be able to blend and segment words containing the 19 letters taught in Phase 2. In this phase, twenty-five new graphemes are introduced (one at a time).
Set 6: j, v, w, x
Set 7: y, z, zz, qu
Consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng
Vowel digraphs: ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er
In Phase 4, no new graphemes are introduced. The main aim of this phase is to consolidate the children’s knowledge and to help them learn to read and spell words which have adjacent consonants, such as trap, string and milk.
In Phase 5, children will learn more graphemes and phonemes. Alternative spellings for phonemes, for example they already know ai as in rain, but now they will be introduced to ay as in day and a-e as in make. Alternative pronunciations for graphemes will also be introduced, e.g. ea in tea, head and break.
At this stage children should be able to spell words phonemically although not always correctly. In Phase 6 the main aim is for children to become more fluent readers and more accurate spellers, including using prefixes and suffixes.
Supporting your child’s learning at home
At St.Patrick’s school and home partnerships are crucial in helping our children become better and avid readers. Below you will find links to websites and some videos which will help your child practise their phonics at home:
How can parents help with reading?