Teaching of Phonics and Reading
Early reading is taught using synthetic phonics as the main approach. There is a strong focus on ensuring that children have a good phonological awareness and can discriminate between sounds. Children are systematically taught the 44 phonemes (sounds), using a multi-sensory approach. There are daily phonic sessions where the children are encouraged to blend the sounds for reading and segment the sounds for writing. The school uses the principles and phases of the government’s ‘Letters and Sounds’ to deliver this. Additionally, children are gradually taught the high frequency ‘tricky’ words – those which are not completely phonetically regular. By combining these elements, children have the tools and skills to be able to write independently at an early age and are given lots of opportunities to apply their phonic skills throughout a rich and varied curriculum.
When the children have mastered this ‘Simple Code’ we continue to teach some of the alternative graphemes used to represent the sounds (the ‘Complex Code’). This forms the majority of phonic work in Years 1, 2 and beyond. Phonics Mats are used to enable the children to select the most appropriate grapheme using the ‘best bet’ strategy. We continue to teach the ‘tricky’ words and also introduce key spelling strategies. Phonics is assessed regularly to monitor progress towards the Year 1 Phonics Check in June.
In Foundation 2, reading books are issued once the children have been taught the Simple Code. Our early reading books have been carefully chosen, containing mostly phonetically regular words that children can sound out and read independently. Once children have mastered the phonic skills and are familiar with a wider range of phonemes, they progress onto books that have been ‘Book Banded’ to a specific reading level. At this stage, we introduce different reading strategies and a wider range of texts. We encourage children to read with expression and confidence, making informed choices about the books they select. Regular Whole Class Reading sessions are also used to specifically teach the skills of reading.
We use a variety of reading scheme books but these form only a small part of the reading experience at Bramcote Hills. We aim to foster a love of reading through providing quality books and resources that children can share and enjoy both at school and at home. The importance and joy of reading is reinforced continually through rich and stimulating curriculum experiences.