Phonics and Reading at Southover
At Southover CE Primary School, we believe that the acquisition of phonics is a crucial skill that children need to become proficient and confident readers and writers. We teach phonics within an environment rich in quality texts where reading for enjoyment is promoted and children’s comprehension of language is fostered.
At Southover we follow the Letters and Sounds programme. From Reception onwards, the children are taught phonics in a multi-sensory way using the Jolly Phonics actions and song. All children in Reception and Key Stage 1 receive a whole class daily phonics lesson where they are taught letter sounds alongside the letter names. Children learn single letter sounds first and then move on to sounds that are made up by two or three letters. Teachers use the correct terminology with the children, such as phonemes, graphemes, digraphs and trigraphs, as they are introduced. Some children may require additional focused phonics to support their level of need and this will be delivered by either the class teacher or teaching assistant. Children in Key Stage 2 who have not yet acquired the necessary phonics knowledge for reading and writing will continue to have phonics sessions.
The Letters and Sounds Programme
The programme has six phases, progressing from Pre-school through to Year Two (and beyond for some children).
- Phase One begins in pre-school and runs alongside all the other phases. Phase one encourages children to hear the sounds around them, rhyme and rhythm, alliteration, oral blending and segmenting.
- Phase Two letters are learned in an order so children can quickly begin to blend to read words. Each phoneme (sound) has a Jolly Phonics action and song to make it memorable and aid the correct pronunciation. We teach both the sound and letter name. The children will begin to blend the letter sounds they know in to two letters words (e.g. in, it and three letter words e.g. sat, pin). We also teach ‘tricky words’ alongside this e.g. to, the, go, no.
- Phase Three teaches another 25 graphemes, most of them comprising of two letters (digraphs) e.g. oa, ai, ee, so the children can represent each phoneme by a grapheme. Children continue to practise CVC words (consonant, vowel, consonant), blending (for reading) and segmentation (for spelling). They apply their knowledge of blending and segmenting to read and spell simple two-syllable words and captions. They will also learn additional tricky words.
- Phase Four consolidates knowledge of graphemes in reading and spelling words containing adjacent consonants and polysyllabic words.
- Phase Five teaches new graphemes for the sounds already learned and alternative pronunciations. When spelling, they will learn to choose the appropriate graphemes to represent phonemes and begin to build word-specific knowledge of the spellings of words.
- Phase Six moves onto spelling rules and grammar. Children learn to spell words with different prefixes and suffixes and words that are exceptions to rules. Children become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers.
At Southover we believe that reading is a vital skill that children need to acquire early in order for children to access the curriculum as best they can. Being a successful reader opens up a world of knowledge and understanding and takes children to places where they would not experience otherwise. It is this importance that means, from the very beginning of school, we aim to develop and foster a love of reading. Reading for pleasure is promoted highly and actively encouraged throughout the school.
Teaching reading at Southover comprises of high-quality phonics so the children learn to decode words, learning whole words by sight and whole text emersion to develop excellent comprehension. Children are taught how to use pictures, phonics and contextual cues to make meaning from what they read. Children are encouraged to read a variety of texts, both fiction and non-fiction.
Children take part in reading opportunities throughout the day. Teachers model reading in shared reading sessions and teach specific aspects in guided reading sessions. Children will read independently and in pairs. The older children often have sessions where they will read with the younger children. We have a well-stocked library that is timetabled across the week for classes and book corners in every classroom.
The majority of our reading scheme in Reception and Key Stage 1 comprise of Oxford Reading Tree. This scheme is progressive and features familiar characters that build confidence with our early readers and different styles and genres as the children progress. The ORT reading scheme is supplemented with reading books from a variety of different schemes to ensure variety and breadth.
Parental involvement is crucial in the journey of reading and we actively encourage this in a number of ways. Children take home a reading book from their very first days at school. At first, the expectation is to share this with an adult at home, progressing to reading it together and then more independently. Reading out loud to an adult at home remains an expectation throughout the children’s time at Southover. Parents and carers are invited to a reading and phonics meeting in the first few weeks of their child starting in Reception so they are aware of ways to help their child. Children take home a reading book and this is recorded in the home/school diary. Reading books are changed regularly in school. Children also get the opportunity to take home a library book each week. Parents and volunteers are actively encouraged into school to listen to readers. We have books appropriate for lower attaining pupils in Key Stage 2 who still need the structure of a reading scheme but with a more mature story/theme.
In 2019-2020 we are running a reading intervention for some of our children on the Every Child a Reader (ECAR) programme. This intervention uses finely graded Book Bands and helps children who find reading particularly difficult.