Phonics and Early Reading
St Theresa's Catholic Primary school is a one form entry school which includes a nursery class that works alongside our reception class. Children generally arrive with below average liteacy skills and our pupil premium is above average with a large percentage of EAL children. We have high expectations and believe that phonics and reading is key to accessing all our curriculum, becoming successful learners and lifelong readers. Our approach to teaching phonics and early reading has been designed to allow success for all, regardless of their background or starting point.
At St. Theresa’s Catholic Primary School, we believe that all our children can become fluent, confident and competent readers and writers. To ensure this happens we teach using the DfE validated programme Ready Steady Phonics. This is a synthetic, systematic phonics programme based upon the Letters and Sounds 2007. We follow the Ready Steady Phonics progression document which systematically develops children’s understanding of the phonics code and builds upon previous learning in an incremental manner as they move through school.
The programme develops children’s ability to blend and segment, using their current phonics knowledge, allowing early success and increasing their confidence in reading. As a result, the children at St. Theresa’s Catholic Primary School are able to tackle unfamiliar words using their phonics knowledge.
At St. Theresa’s Catholic Primary School we also model and apply the skills taught in the discrete phonics session into reading and writing across the curriculum, demonstrating contextual application of the skills taught.
We have a strong focus on language development as we recognise that speaking and listening are crucial skills that underpin reading and writing.
At St. Theresa’s Catholic Primary School we also want our children to be able to read for meaning and pleasure and to be able to view themselves as lifelong readers. The matched decodable readers provided by Ready Steady Phonics support this and provide engaging and meaningful texts for children to decode and to discuss for understanding. Development of comprehension is promoted within the Ready Steady Phonics Guided Reading Sessions and these are built on further as the children move through our school.
Our experienced Early Reading and Phonics Lead is responsible for Ready Steady Phonics, monitoring and supporting the practice and ensuring fidelity to the Ready Steady Phonics programme.
At St. Theresa’s Catholic Primary School we provide a balance of adult and child-led activities which meet the curriculum, expectations in ‘Communication and language’ and Literacy’. These include:
- Sharing high quality stories, poems and non-fiction
- Learning a range of songs and nursery rhymes
- High quality language interactions
- A range of quality listening activities, moving toward oral segmenting and blending by the end of nursery.
Reception and Year 1
- Phonics is taught daily for 30 mins. At the beginning of Reception the programme begins in Week 2, with shorter, engaging, age appropriate, 10 minute sessions, but develops into the full-length sessions over weeks. Built into the programme is a review session every Friday, alongside regular review and assessment weeks, so that we have a clear understanding of where our children are at and what further teaching they may need to allow them early success.
- The daily sessions include a clear 4 part lesson, Revisit/Revise, Teach, Practice and Apply and cover letter formation, segmenting and blending, real and pseudo words and application into reading and writing.
- We follow the Ready Steady Phonics progression document through Reception and Year 1 which gives clear, high expectations about what is to be taught and when.
Ready Steady Go: Keeping All Children On Track
- Any child who is identified as requiring additional support will receive immediate intervention through the Ready Steady Go sessions. These are in addition to their daily Ready Steady Phonics lesson.
- The sessions are 15-20 mins long and are between 3 and 5 times per week in frequency, depending on the area of difficulty identified.
- The sessions using the same procedures, resources and materials as Ready Steady Phonics but with more repetition and scaffolding with a fully trained adult.
- Regular phonics lessons using the Ready Steady Phonics materials are also timetabled for any children in Y2- 6 for children who are not fluent in decoding or who have not passed the phonics Screening Check in Y2. The Ready Steady Assessments are used to clearly identify the gaps in knowledge for those children so that the appropriate teaching can be put in place by a trained adult.
- Children with common and specific difficulties are taught in small groups/1:1 using the Ready Steady Phonics materials.
- Ready Steady Phonics provides matched reading books which align directly to the Ready Steady Phonics progression document. These are available on-line and/or hard copies
- The teaching of reading takes place through:
- A Shared Read of the decodable text, led by a trained adult at some point during the Friday session
- A Shared Read of the decodable text will take place with a trained adult during the week
- This book will also be used for 1:1/independent reading for consolidation and to develop confidence.
- The books cover fiction, non-fiction and rhyme
- The decodable reading book is taken home as well as access to the online reading book given through a QR code.
- The children are expected to read this to an adult, practicing and consolidating their skills in phonics
- This is monitored by the class teacher and the Early Reading and Phonics Lead
- Support for parents in how to listen and support their child in reading a phonically decodable book is given on the Ready Steady Phonics Website: Parent/Carers section
Reading for Pleasure and enjoyment
“Reading for pleasure has social benefits as well and can make people feel more connected to the wider community. Reading increases a person’s understanding of their own identity, improves empathy and gives them an insight into the world view of others” (The Reading Agency 2015).”
Improves Academic Success
“Students with more positive attitudes towards reading are more likely to read at or above the expected level for their age” (Clark 2014)
Improves Knowledge and Understanding
“I read for pleasure and that is the moment I learn the most” Margaret Attwood - Author
At St. Theresa’s Catholic Primary School, we value immensely reading for pleasure and the joy books can bring and we understand the value this can add to children. To encourage our children to engage with and have a love of books we:
- We have a daily, 15 minute story time in Early Years and KS1. We choose a range of books for these, fiction, non-fiction and poetry, stories from other cultures, and books that reflect our local community
- All classrooms have a book corner which encourages a love of reading. Teachers ensure that children are using the books purposefully and we can support their choice. The books within these areas are specifically chosen to link with topics, recently read story books etc.
- All children take home a shared book. This is for them to share with parents/carers to be read to and to talk about.
- There is a home-school reading record book where adults log books the children read and enjoy.
- Children in Reception are paired up with a reading buddy so that children can enjoy sharing books 1:1
- Daily formative assessment is built into the Ready Steady Phonics teaching sequence and the workbooks have a dedicated, daily opportunity to record formative assessment to be reinforced in the daily Ready Steady Go sessions
- The weekly Friday session allows opportunities to review and identify gaps in learning that will then be addressed in the Ready Steady Go additional sessions
- Ongoing observations of children during the phonics lesson to inform gaps in learning and broader application of phonics skills and knowledge across the curriculum
- Regular five or six weekly assessments take place as identified in the Ready Steady Phonics progression document. These weeks will be used to assess progress and identify children who need further group/individual support.
- The assessments will be shared with the Early Reading and Phonics Lead/SLT to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children, with a focus on the bottom 20%
- All children in Year 1 will sit the Phonics Screening Check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.
- Year 2 children will take part in Assessment Tests in Reading termly which will inform gaps in learning.
Ongoing assessment for Ready Steady Go: Keeping All Children On Track
- Children in Years 2-6 will be assessed through on-going formative assessment as well as through the regular Ready Steady Phonics summative assessments.