Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language. Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of individual letters and how those letters sound when they’re combined will help children decode words as they read. Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing words.
Phonics involves matching the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters. For example, the sound k can be spelled as c, k, ck or ch. Teaching children to blend the sounds of letters together helps them decode unfamiliar or unknown words by sounding them out. For example, when a child is taught the sounds for the letters t, p, a and s, they can start to build up the words: “tap”, “taps”, “pat”, “pats” and “sat”.
At Cockton Hill Junior School, we follow the Letters and Sounds progression for systematic phonics. Initially, pupils are baseline assessed in their phonics and reading ability. This includes a phonics phoneme/grapheme check and previous phonics screening papers will also be utilised. From this, groupings will be established to best meet the emerging needs of pupils. Groupings are flexible and staff rotate around these groups to support phonics teaching and learning. This provision is to ensure gaps in learning are met and basic skills are secured. Pupils are taught the sounds and the letter names from the start of phonics teaching. High frequency words are taught alongside phonic sounds relevant to the phase pupils are working at. Tricky words are identified as such so that pupils know these are not decodable.
Once the crucial skills of word recognition are secured through phonics teaching children are encouraged to read fluently and automatically allowing them to concentrate on the meaning of the text. This balance between word recognition and language comprehension shifts as children acquire secure and automatic decoding skills and progress from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn’ for purpose and pleasure.
We use The Oxford Reading tree scheme across school to support our children in developing their reading skills. The books are banded according to their level of difficulty, providing children with a challenging reading experience, which also allows them to use their developing whole word knowledge to read independently.
The Oxford Reading tree scheme comprises of a mixture of Fiction, Non-fiction and Traditional Tales, which allows children to experience a variety of texts. We also have a range of Bug Club and Project X books available to children across school.
Reading lessons and whole class reading sessions are taught regularly where children are given the opportunity to develop their fluency, vocabulary, inference and comprehension skills. During these sessions, children are given the opportunity to read independently, with a partner or teacher. Class novels alongside standalone texts from all genres are used across school to support the development of comprehension skills. If children are working below their chronological reading age, targeted intervention and support is put in place.
A comprehensive library of texts is available to support children to develop high levels of reading skill and to read with confidence, fluency and good understanding. We encourage children to read a wide range of books giving practice and broadening knowledge before moving forward in challenge. We encourage reading for pleasure and enjoyment of reading individually, in pairs and in groups.
Children read in a wide range of contexts across the school day and are taught the mechanics of reading alongside the skills of comprehension and understanding. We ask parents to read with their child at least 3 times a week, spending quality time and enjoying books together. Children each have an individual reading record and school reading book. We expect parents to support children in their individual reading programmes and complete the home school reading record weekly.
Also, children are provided with log in details for Bug Club online reading resource. Here children can practise phonics through appealing games and activities. They also have access to a wide range of additional books, arranged by difficulty using the coloured book band system that teachers allocate based on a child’s current stage of learning.