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Reading & Phonics Information

Phonics at Heron Way

Phonics are a way of decoding written letters and spoken sounds. The phonics approach teaches children to decode words by sounds, rather than recognising whole words. This approach to learning to read is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them to read and spell.

At Heron Way we use a structured phonics programme called Song of Sounds published by Collins. Children begin to learn about phonics from their first weeks in Reception and progress through the programme throughout Key Stage One. The rigorous teaching of systematic synthetic phonics is at the core of Song of Sounds. In Reception children learn and master the 42 basic sounds (Stage 1) and then go on to learn 27 addition complex and alternative spellings in Year 1 (Stage 2). In Year 2 children go on to learn alternative spellings for known phonemes to read and spell increasingly complex words using Stage 3.

Aims of Phonics Teaching

Although our phonics teaching is rigourous and fast paced, we believe there is no reason why phonics should be dull and repetitive. The Song of Sounds programme has a song as it’s core ingredient which children love to sing and learn all of the accompanying actions. Our approach is multi-sensory and is packed alongside fun, interactive games and activities where children are encouraged to apply their new skills and embed their learning.

Our aims for the teaching of phonics are as follows:

  • Teach grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) at a quick pace (around one a day)
  • Immediately teach how to blend sounds into complete words for reading, e.g. the phonemes /c/ /a/ /t/ blend together to make the word “cat”.
  • Immediately teach how to segment words into their individual phonemes for writing, e.g. the word “bus” segments into the phonemes /b/ /u/ /s/.
  • Teach key irregular words (tricky words), noting which parts of the word can be blended phonetically and which are irregular, e.g. “I”, “me” and “we”.
  • Use decodable texts to ensure that children apply phonics knowledge to read at an age appropriate level. At Heron Way we do not use any particular reading scheme.
  • Apply phonics skills to writing activities across the curriculum.

National Phonics Check Results

In Year 1 children are assessed on their ability to blend phonemes together to read a selection of real and non-real words. This enables us to identify children who are making progress in their acquisition of phonics skills. Children who do not pass the test in Year 1 are provided with extra support and are given the opportunity to retake the test in Year 2.

In 2018 88% of Year 1 pupils passed the phonics screening check.

Reading

All reading books within the school are banded and are linked to National Curriculum age-related expectations.  Children progress through the various stages as they become more confident readers.  We have a very broad range for children to select from, including those from schemes such as Oxford Reading Tree and Collins Big Cats.  This is supplemented by a large range of fiction and non-fiction books in both the class libraries and the school library.

The books that the children can select from to take home, as Home Readers are also Book Banded so that the children can practise the skills of reading at an appropriate level. They are a mixture of books from schemes and ‘real books’, so that children experience a diverse range of texts.

In Key Stage Two, books have been carefully selected so that they are age-appropriate, but are not Book Banded, and can ensure that transition from Key Stage One is well managed. We also have a range of schemes that we use with children who may need additional support. Year 3 and 4 have their own selection of guided readers that they use, as do Year 5 and 6, this allows us to develop the breadth and range of books that the children read at a pace that is appropriate and in-line with their on-going comprehension skills. All children have a reading journal, which is a log of what they choose to read for pleasure and teachers monitor this.
Across the school, Guided Reading is taught to ensure that the children develop an understanding of the skills needed to decode, how books work, text types and language. The staff also through regular reading help to foster and nurture a love of reading for pleasure.