At St Benedict’s Catholic Primary School, we are passionate about ensuring that at the end of Year 6, every child will leave as a confident and enthusiastic reader and writer.
In order to achieve this outcome, we provide opportunities for our children to thrive through a combination of high-quality, discrete phonics teaching, combined with daily opportunities for developing reading and writing skills.
We believe that phonics provides the foundations needed to develop fluency in reading and writing.
The teaching of phonics is a key strategy that is used to help our children to read, write and spell. We ensure that our children are taught the key phonics skills through segmenting and blending.
Reading is highly valued in St Benedict’s and our intention is to ensure children develop not only their reading skills, but their love of literature during their time in our care. Phonics teaching starts with the acquisition of letter sounds and develops into segmenting and blending skills.
The teaching of phonics is given a high priority within school. We also strive to ensure that all parents are aware of the importance of phonics and how they can support their child at home through the application of these skills in their reading and writing. Through parent meetings and workshops, we aim to provide parents and guardians with the confidence and the tools to reinforce the child’s learning and have fun together learning to read.
To provide our children with the tools to become competent readers and writers, it is integral that we ensure:
- Consistency in the approach to teaching phonics throughout FS, KS1 and KS2 where appropriate;
- Rigorous planning, assessment, and tracking;
- Quality first teaching of stimulating, interactive lessons to support motivation;
- That all children are able to read and understand simple sentences and use phonic knowledge to decode regular words by the end of EYFS (ELG) and the age of six (Year 1 phonic screening test).
At St. Benedict’s we are passionate about having a consistent approach to our phonics teaching and we believe this consistent approach is the best way to ensure children are taught the essential skills for reading. We believe that reading is the key to unlocking the whole curriculum and therefore the ability to efficiently decode is essential.
Children are introduced to phonics teaching as soon as they enter our Nursery. We use the Read Write Inc. synthetic phonics programme to teach our children the core skills of segmenting and blending and to start them on their reading journey.
Phonics is taught daily in Foundation and Key Stage One and this is important as the continuity and pace of the programme is key to accelerating the progress of children’s reading development. All staff have received the relevant Read Write Inc. training to ensure daily provision is consistent and uninterrupted. Throughout Early Years and Key Stage One, children are taught in smaller, focussed groups to target their specific needs for phonics, alongside children of the same ability.
The structure of the phonics lessons in the Read Write Inc. programme is also consistent across Early Years and Key Stage One. The lessons focus on the skills of segmenting and blending from the outset and children are constantly reviewing the previous sounds they have been taught. Phonics teaching at St. Benedict’s is interactive and engaging and the repetitive nature of the programme ensures that the knowledge and skills are embedded into children’s long term memory.
The Read Write Inc. programme contains an initial assessment which is carried out in order to assess children’s phonic knowledge and skills. This allows teachers to group the children, targeting specific needs. Teachers and Teaching Assistants regularly assess the children in their group and converse with each other so that the planning meets the needs of all children in that group, ensuring they are confident, before moving onto a new set of phonics sounds. Children are also formally assessed each term on their phonics knowledge which is then used as the basis for intervention for children who are working below the expected level.
Once children are confident blending and segmenting with the most frequently occurring grapheme-phoneme correspondences through the Read Write Inc programme, they move onto Phase 6 of the Letters and Sounds programme. In this Phase, the main aim is for children to become more fluent readers and more accurate spellers.
Children in Key Stage Two who are working below the expected level for phonics have regular intervention to target their specific needs, they are given extra support and staff address any misconceptions they may have.
The children take home reading books which match their current phonics level and they are encouraged to read regularly at home. Children’s books are matched closely to their knowledge of phonics so that children experience early reading success and gain confidence in reading. In addition to our home readers, our children have access to a vast wealth of literature at their fingertips in the form of ‘Bug Club’ – an online library tailored to their reading level. In our EYFS, the continuous provision matches the pupil’s current knowledge and understanding whilst ensuring the children are suitably challenged.
The impact of our Phonics curriculum and the attainment of children is measured using the Key Stage One and Key Stage Two national assessments, along with information provided by the Phonics Screening Check in Year One and the achievement of the Early Learning Goals in the Foundation Stage.
At St. Benedict’s, we also have termly Read Write Inc assessments which measure the attainment and progress of children in phonics. This information is then inputted onto a phonics tracker which is monitored closely. However, we firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes far and beyond the results of the statutory assessments.
Through our systematic teaching of phonics, we endeavour to ensure that our children become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension skills as they move through the school.
We believe the impact of our Phonics and English curriculum will ensure our pupils are academically prepared for life, not only in primary school, but secondary school too and on into adulthood. A learning journey is just that, it will continue indefinitely. We are priviledged that here at St Benedict’s, we are able to give our children the positive starts that they need to thrive beyond their time with us.