At Gearies Primary School we believe that reading underpins most life skills. For this reason, we strive to create a language rich environment all the way through the school. From Nursery to Year Six we expose children to high quality texts, promoting a love of reading early on. Our classroom environments support this philosophy. This begins with engaging and fast paced phonics lessons which engage them and build on children’s prior learning. Daily opportunities for story time, including poetry and singing enable children to actively listen, participate, recite and consider the text on a deeper level.
Our phonics learning is supported by the Jolly Phonics Programme. Jolly Phonics is a systematic synthetic phonics programme which teaches skills in a set order to help children develop their understanding, confidence and an enthusiasm for reading.
Learning letter sounds
Learning letter formation
Blending sounds together to make words
Segmenting words (breaking them up into their separate sounds)
Learning common exception words (otherwise known as tricky words)
In Reception and Year One children have daily phonics lessons teaching letter sounds, accompanied by actions and songs to aid memory. A sound a day is taught with opportunities for the children to apply their learning in various multisensory, interactive, and practical contexts. Once children are beginning to blend sounds together, colour banded reading books matched to the children’s current learning needs are introduced. Phonics lessons initially begin short and repetitively as the children’s ability to concentrate develops. Steadily, this is built upon and includes activities within the environment for the children to apply their understanding.
Opportunities for ‘back and forth’ interactions with adults are explored frequently. Writing and phonics are woven into everyday learning opportunities and revisited. These opportunities help children to develop their listening skills and oracy skills by:
thinking and modelling out loud
rephrasing and extending what children say
asking open and closed questions
explaining why things happen
making connections between past and present events
providing models of accurate grammar
All pupils are assessed at appropriate intervals (half termly) as they progress. During daily sessions of phonics there are also opportunities for practitioners and teachers to regularly assess children’s understanding. Frequent assessment is carried out to ensure that current books match children’s current phonics development. Regular monitoring and 1:1 reading with an adult also enable us to ensure that all children are making expected progress. Where this is not the case, additional support strategies are put into place.
In Year two children’s reading and phonics journey continues. Children continue to learn and apply alternative sounds (ee,ea,ey,y) and their rules, spelling common exception words, spelling words with contractions, learning singular and possessive apostrophes and reading words with suffixes (-ment, -ness, -ful,-less and -ly).
Every Year One child in the Summer term will take a Phonics Screening Check. This is a phonics based check where children will be expected to read 40 simple, decodable words including nonsense words. This screening is used as a progress check to identify those children needing additional support with their reading. Results are reported to parents as well as the local authority. Children will be rechecked in Year Two if they do not reach the expected level.
Frequent assessment offers teachers opportunities to identify children with gaps in their understanding, this may include children joining us from other schools, those who have who have recently arrived from a different abroad, children with special educational needs or because they have missed or misunderstood a crucial phase of the systematic phonics teaching. Early intervention is imperative, additional resources can be used to support their personalised gaps in learning both in and out of class. This intervention may be class based or additional out of class support, either 1:1 or as part of a small group. Such support focuses on:
developing a familiar routine in a quiet environment
be led by a well-trained adult
be consistent with the schools phonics programme
tackle gaps in understanding
At Gearies Primary we believe that it is imperative that high expectations are maintained and personalised in order for all children to reach their full potential.