Learning to read
No doubt you will come across the word ‘Phonics’ as soon as your child starts school. Phonics is a method of learning to read words that is taught right from the start of Reception/Nursery.
Children are taught to read letters or groups of letters by saying the sound(s) they represent – so, they are taught that the letter / sounds. Children can then start to read words by blending the sounds together to make a word. This is a very exciting time as the more accurate and fluent your child becomes the more they are likely to enjoy reading. There is strong evidence linking reading for pleasure and educational outcomes, but the benefits go beyond this and stretch throughout a person’s life.
Phonics at Town Farm is taught using Read, Write Inc, a highly structured programme of daily lessons across EYFS and KS1. Children start learning phonic knowledge and skills from week 2 in reception, and this provides a structured route for most children to meet or exceed the expected standard in the year one Phonics Screening Check and all national curriculum expectations for word reading through decoding by the end of Key Stage 1.
Each Read, Write Inc session gives an opportunity for children to revisit their previous session, be taught new skills, practise together and apply what they have learnt. Daily sessions teach the main grapheme-phoneme correspondences in a clear sequence. This enables the children to read and spell many words from early on in their schooling. There is a clear progression from simple to more complex phonic knowledge introduced to the children at the most appropriate time in their learning journey.
Please watch this video which explains phonics to parents Parent video: Understanding Phonics - YouTube
The main focus in Nursery is being a 'talk-a-lot, read-a-lot' setting. Reading stories, singing and rhymes are incorporated throughout the day and help to develop language. Quality talk is prioritised and a communication-friendly environment enables children to develop important communication and language skills.
Children in Reception begin with Read, Write Inc - Making a Strong Start as soon as they start school in September. They also enjoy range of listening activities through play, in order to develop their listening skills. Progress is tracked through ongoing teacher assessment and more formally at the end of each half term. Our Reception children are split into smaller phonics groups after the October half term. Children are grouped according to their first assessment.
Year 1 and above
Children follow the same format as Reception but will work on complex sounds and read books appropriate to their reading level. All children in KS1 are split into smaller groups based on their most recent assessment for their daily lesson.
Children’s progress is continually reviewed to allow planning for gaps and interventions and to ensure that there is sufficient challenge available for more confident learners.
The national Phonics Screening Check is performed in June of Year 1. The purpose of the screening check is to confirm that all children have learned phonic decoding to an age-appropriate standard. The children who do not meet the required standard for the check in year 1 enter again in year 2 and additional support is put in place.
At Town Farm Primary School we:
- Teach children that phonics helps us to read and write.
- Follow a specific Read, Write Inc lesson structure and teaching sequence, which promotes independence, resilience, and success in all our learners.
- Demonstrate full fidelity to our programme.
- Ensure consistency of resources and approaches across the school.
- Provide early ‘keep up’ interventions where needed.
- Ensure that all phonics teaching is delivered with pace and passion.
- Ensure that children take home books closely matched to their phonic ability.
- Invite all parents to attend phonics workshops to support their children with the development of their child’s phonics skills
- Ensure that all staff are fully trained to deliver the Read, Write, Inc programme
Read Write Inc - about the programme
Read Write Inc. Phonics, Literacy & Language, Fresh Start and Spelling are highly successful literacy programmes for 4-13 year-olds created by Ruth Miskin and published by Oxford University Press. The training and support from Ruth Miskin Training, rated Outstanding by the Department for Education, ensure the programmes have the best chance of success in schools.
The four Read Write Inc. programmes are carefully matched to the new curriculum, aimed at developing a love for reading and giving your children the best chance of success in the national tests. They show teachers, teaching assistants and parents step-by-step how to teach all children to become fluent readers, confident speakers and willing writers.
Our school uses:
Read Write Inc. Phonics. This programme is used by over a quarter of the UK’s primary schools. Ruth Miskin developed the programme during her time as a headteacher in Tower Hamlets. Rigorous assessment, tracking and one-to-one tutoring ensure that schools guarantee progress for every child.
For information and tutorials on how to support your child learning to read go to: Parent guide to Read Write Inc. Phonics - Oxford Owl
RWI in Practice
Regular assessments help to identify children who are making consistent progress and they are placed in a group where the books match the sounds/words they know. On the other hand, regular assessments also help identify children who may need extra help. This is provided on a 1:1 basis daily.
A considerable amount of time and money has been invested in the training of teacher and teaching assistants alike. The training is ongoing and led by Mrs. McKenzie (Year 1 teacher and KS1 Phase Leader).
Five key principles underpin the teaching in all Read Write Inc. sessions as taken from the Teacher Handbook:
- Participation – As they are in small groups, children participate fully in every session. They are able to maintain high levels of concentration and they do not miss key elements of the teaching.
- Praise - Children work together as partners. They take turns to teach and praise each other. They are motivated by praise from their teachers and teaching assistants.
- Pace - Sessions never drag. The lively pace keeps every child fully engaged and on task.
- Purpose - Every instructor has been trained in Read Write Inc. methods. They know the purpose of each activity, and how it leads into the next.
- Passion - Instructors, too, become passionate about their teaching as they see the children enjoying the progress they are making.
Through the Read, Write Inc programme children are taught to recognise sounds and then to ‘sound-blend’ them into words for reading.
Watch this video to learn how to pronounce each sound correctly Parent video: How to say the sounds - YouTube
In Reception, children come home with a Lilac book to start with. These are books with no words. Using these, children can learn to identify objects, people, places, animals, and actions and narrate a story based on visual cues.
Once they have learnt a certain number of sounds they will begin to bring home Sound Blending Books.
Once they reach the next stage, they will start to bring 2 learning to read books home a week plus their library book (please see below).
In years 1 and 2, most children will bring home 3 books a week. The first 2 books are learning to read books and the third is their reading for pleasure book:
The first book is a black and white book and is a copy of the book they have been reading in their group that week. It will be familiar to them and is a chance to show you at home how fluent and confident they are at reading it.
The second book is what we call a Book Bag Book. This will be matched to your child's correct colour band but will be unfamiliar to them. Encourage your child to sound out any words they are finding tricky to read.
The third book is called a sharing book and it is the book that your child has chosen from the library that week. It may be a book that they cannot read/decode by themselves. It is the one they have chosen to read for pleasure.
The expectation is that children read 5 times at week at home and each read is recorded in their reading record by an adult.
From year 1 onwards, once your child has read 30 times, they visit the Senior Leadership Team and are given a golden coin. They use this coin to choose a book from our reading book vending machine that they can take home and keep.