At Beckers Green Primary School, we teach reading through a daily Phonics lesson, following the DFES publication ‘Letters and Sounds’.
Letters and Sounds is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. Children have time to practice and rapidly expand their ability to read and spell words. They are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky words’ – words with spellings that are unusual or that children have not yet been taught. This includes words such as ‘was’, ‘the’ and ‘do’, words that cannot be sounded but will be found frequently in children’s reading and writing. These are the words we practise reading and spelling with the children in order to help them become fluent readers and accurate writers.
Many children will have begun Phase One and possibly Phase Two at pre-school or Nursery, prior to starting school. Phase One encourages children to listen carefully to sounds in their environment, while Phase Two introduces the first letter sounds. During this period of developing early reading skills, children will learn rhymes, listen to stories and sing songs to allow children to increase their vocabulary, become aware of rhyme and alliteration (words starting with the same sound, e.g. big bad bear, crunchy cold cake). For those children who have not learnt these skills before starting school, they will be taught them in Reception.
In Reception and Key Stage One, phonics are taught daily to children in small groups. Children enjoy these sessions as they are active in their learning and are encouraged to apply their newly learnt skills immediately – through writing sentences, playing games or reading with a friend. These skills are then expected to practised at home through daily reading with your child.
We also teach children explicit reading skills in dedicated reading lessons. These lessons focus on the skills of inference, deduction, text structure, comprehension and retelling, rather than focussing on the decoding skills taught in phonics lessons.
The reading scheme we use to support the children’s developing reading skills is based on the Oxford Reading Tree, with new books being added all the time to maintain the interest of the children. We have recently added books from the ‘Project X: Alien Adventure’ and ‘Clinker Castle’ series’.
Children who are beginning to read more confidently are signed up to a reading scheme called Accelerated Reader. This is a computer based programme that enables children to complete a quiz on the content of the book they have just read. Thousands of well-known books and books from Oxford Reading Tree have quizzes on the scheme and children enjoy completing these online. The quizzes can be accessed every day in school either on a computer or an ipad.
In Key Stage Two, we teach reading through Reading Skills lessons. Forming part of our English lessons each week, Reading Skills lessons aim to cover the skills deemed necessary to become active, engaged and skilled readers. Children will take part in a variety of whole class activities practising a wide variety of skills such as:
- Navigating texts
- Exploring vocabulary
- Sequencing events
- Justifying opinions
- Making inferences
- Making comparisons
- Activating prior knowledge
During the week, each class will also have time set a side so that children can also read for pleasure. This gives children the opportunity to read their personal reading books, whether they are chosen in school or from home. During the Autumn Term, children in Y3 will also have individual reading sessions which continue to support them to decode words and read fluently. This also supports them with the transition to KS2.
This time can also be used to access the Accelerated Reader programme, where children can quiz on the content of their personal reading books. This computer-based programme has thousands of quizzes based on the content of many well-known books and it assesses the children’s comprehension skills. The majority of the books in school (and books you may have at home) are available on this system. The quizzes can be accessed every day in school either on a computer or an ipad.
As a Key Stage, we have devised our own scheme for spelling which follows the new framework from the National Curriculum. In accordance with this, the children will be taught spelling conventions each week delivered in specific spelling sessions. Children will develop strategies to help them spell both common and exception words, including those listed for their year group. It is important that children have exposure to a broad range of vocabulary, through reading widely and investigating spelling patterns in order to increase their accuracy when spelling new words and to increase their curiosity in language.
To support spelling in Key Stage Two, children have access to Spellodrome - an online spelling programme which allows children to practise spelling conventions through games, quizzes and other activities. Children should be able to access this programme both in school and at home through the ‘mathletics’ website: www.mathletics.co.uk