Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 follow the synthetic phonics approach, using the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme. It is an approach to teaching phonics in which individual letters or letter sounds are blended to form groups of letters or sounds, and those groups are then blended to form complete words. Children in Reception also use ‘Jolly Phonics’ actions to go with the sounds.
Our daily phonics sessions which take place in Reception and Key Stage 1 are fun, involving lots of speaking and listening activities and games. The emphasis is on children’s active participation. The children learn to use their phonic knowledge for reading and writing activities which are developed and reinforced in their independent work and play.
Letters and Sounds is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. Children have time to practise 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. These include the words ‘to’, ‘was’, ‘said’ and ‘the’ – you can’t really break the sounds down for such words so it’s better to just ‘recognise’ them on sight.
Phase One will have begun in Nursery. This phase paves the way for the systematic learning of phonics. During this phase activities are planned that help your children to listen attentively to sounds around them, such as the sounds of their toys and to sounds in spoken language. We teach a wide range of nursery rhymes and songs and share books with the children. This helps them to increase the number of words they know – their vocabulary – and helps them to talk confidently about books. The children learn to identify rhyme and words that begin with the same sound. This is called alliteration.
Ways you can support your children at home:
All Year 1 children are assessed in June using the national ‘Phonics Screening Check’. This is a simple check using 20 ‘real’ and 20 ‘nonsense’ words that helps us to see whether each child can decode words using the phonics skills they have developed in school and at home. Those children who do not achieve the required standard in Year 1 are assessed again when they are in Year 2. In 2016, almost 90% of children at All Saints had successfully met the required standard by the end of Year 2.
Our main reading scheme is called Project X: a whole-school reading programme designed to motivate and raise the achievement of children – especially boys! It features highly motivating and engaging books from Reception to Year 6; supporting phonic skills and comprehension.
The school has also recently invested in a large number of new home reading books. These are colour coded so that you know that your child is reading a book at an appropriate level for his/her reading ability. We check reading ages in Key Stage 2 using a test every 6 months.
This tables shows you which book band equates to reading ages:
|Reading Age||Book Band|
|5y0 – 5y11m||Yellow|
|6y0m – 6y11m||Orange|
|7y0m – 7y6m||Copper|
|7y7m – 8y0m||Topaz|
|8y1m – 8y6m||Ruby|
|8y7m - 9y0m||Emerald|
|9y1m – 9y 11m||Sapphire|
|10y 0m – 10y 11m||Diamond|
Children also have access to a range of other reading materials. These give a variety of fiction and non–fiction books to develop children’s reading range. Children learn to read at different rates. Once they finish the reading scheme, we encourage them to become ‘free readers’ and choose their own books.