At Benedict Biscop we want our children to learn that all things are possible. We want our children to aspire and to achieve highly. We actively encourage cross-curricular learning, to give pupils maximum opportunity to transfer skills and knowledge, developing our children’s spoken language, reading, writing, grammar, spelling and vocabulary through everything they do.
We believe that a thorough grasp of literacy skills is crucial to a high-quality education and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society. We know that the sooner children learn to read, the greater their success at school, therefore we put reading at the heart of what we do. We endeavour to engender a life – long love of reading. We recognise that mastery in phonics is fundamental to children being able to access a broad range of genres, across the curriculum. We aim to achieve this by teaching phonics using a highly structured and systematic approach with a relentless drive to address the needs of all learners.
We strive to ensure children become inquisitive about language and its structure, developing creative and enquiring minds, which make connections, problem-solve and learn collaboratively. We want children not only to learn to read but to read in order to learn; reading exposes children to more than just words on a page, it opens their minds to different worlds, characters and experiences and it is inseparable from the writing process. Our aim is to ensure children are motivated to write, take pride in their writing, can write clearly and accurately and adapt their language and style for a range of contexts. We want to inspire children to be confident in the arts of speaking and listening and who can use discussion to develop their learning; we want our children to learn that all things are possible!
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It is our intent that phonics will be delivered via a highly structured programme of daily lessons. At Benedict Biscop we currently use Letter & Sounds to teach phonics. School are moving to use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised scheme in Autumn 2021 [a full phonics programme, based on the original Letters and Sound scheme currently used in school].
Phonics sessions are taught in groups or during whole class sessions according to children’s phonic awareness and development, providing a synthetic approach to the teaching of phonics.
There are 4 elements to a Letters and Sounds phonics session: review, teach, practise and apply.
- Review – Flashcards should be used daily to recap graphemes previously taught. Along with a reading or writing activity reviewing the previous week/days learning. This section should be very fast paced and allow children to apply their prior learning quickly.
- Teach – This section should have some new learning and teach reading or writing skills. It should include any songs and actions to support children’s learning and understanding.
- Practise – This section should allow children to practise their reading/writing skills. This could be done with words, phrases or sentences. Children should be supported where necessary and work among peers e.g. playing games together to apply their teach section.
- Apply – This section should give children the opportunity to apply their skills independently through reading/writing a range of words/phrases/sentences in games.
Assessment & Application
Children’s progress in phonics is continually monitored and assessed to identify progress within each phonics phase. Where children are not familiar with sounds linked to the phase they have completed, interventions are put in place to help secure rapid progress with sounds they have not yet grasped.
The National Phonics Screening Check is performed in June of Year 1. Prior to the check, school host a Year 1 phonics workshop, which gives parents information about how they can support their children at home with phonics. The purpose of the screening check is to confirm that all children have learned phonic decoding to an age-appropriate standard. The children who did not meet the required standard for the check in year 1 enter again in year 2 with additional support. As children enter KS2 provision is made for those children still requiring daily phonics.
Due to national lockdowns and the Coronavirus pandemic. The year 1 phonics’ screen in 2020 was moved to Autumn 2020.
In 2021 there will also be a delay to assessments with no screen occurring in June, but it is anticipated that this will be revisited in Autumn 2021.
School have matched early reading books to each phonic phase to ensure that pupils have books which match their phonic ability. In Autumn 2021, school are moving to a new phonic scheme and alongside this, our current reading scheme will be replaced with new Big Cat Little Wandle phonically decodable books.
At Benedict Biscop, children take home a book as soon as they enter nursery, helping to develop language and early reading skills through picture and simple word books [supporting Phase 1 of phonics]. When appropriate, pupils will progress onto a phonics based reading scheme where children will take home books that match the phonics phase which they are learning.
In Key Stage 1, when children are ready, they move onto our Accelerated Reader scheme. This is a programme that uses ‘real’ books to encourage enjoyment and motivation to read. As part of this programme, children recieve a levelled, self-chosen book. Once they have completed the book they then complete a short quiz to check that pupils have fully understood what they have read. Early levels of the programme are accessible to pupils who are still developing their phonic knowledge and the build onto our existing and new reading schemes.
The Accelerated Reader scheme progresses from early readers through to secondary age expectations, ensuring that we don’t put a ceiling on the level of reading books our children can access. Books are marked with a LY for lower years and a ML for middle years – this means that pupils can access levels of reading books that are no only appropriate in decoding and understanding, but also in age appropriate content.
At Benedict Biscop, Reading is of the upmost importance, as we understand that the skill of successful reading, supports our children to learn across the full curriculum. Reading skills are therefore not just taught discretely in guided reading sessions, but are covered as part of our English sequence across the week [where we understand that reading help develop understanding of genres, vocabulary and sentence structures prior to writing], but also across the curriculum e.g. through History.
At home we encourage parents to listen to their child read on a daily basis, but also to support them to develop successful reading strategies and understanding. We have produced a guide to help parents with this: