English - Reading inc. Phonics and Writing
At The Three Schools we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme, validated in July 2021.
We start teaching phonics in Reception and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through our schools.
As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At The Three Schools, we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
At The Three Schools, we value reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children leave us, they read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure. Our readers are equipped with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose.
Because we believe teaching every child to read is so important, we have a Reading Leader, who drives the early reading programme in our school. This person is highly skilled at teaching phonics and reading, and they monitor and support our reading team, so everyone teaches with fidelity to the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
Provided that they are ready to do so, as children move into Key Stage 2, they access Accelerated Reader, to support regularly application of comprehension skills, combined with taught Talk for Reading and Guided Reading sessions.
Foundations for phonics in our Pre-School
We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and language’ and ‘Literacy’. These include:
- sharing high-quality stories and poems
- learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
- activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
- attention to high-quality language.
We ensure preschool children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.
Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
We teach phonics for up to 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers. Children make a strong start in Reception: with phonics teaching beginning in Week 2 of the autumn term.
We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress:
- Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
- Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
A full breakdown of weekly taught content can be found in the attachments below.
Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read
Any child who needs additional practice has daily Keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 or, at Swanbourne in year 3, who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics Screening Check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Keep-up resources – at pace.
If any child in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least three times a week.
Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week
We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week.
Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills: decoding, prosody and comprehension.
In Reception these sessions start in Week 4. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books. In Year 2 and 3, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books. For those who are secure, we progress to Talk for Reading and Guided Reading sessions from Year 2.
For more information, please see our Phonics and Early Reading Policy, below.
Reading for Pleasure
Research indicates that teachers’ knowledge of children’s literature and other texts, as well as knowledge of young readers’ choices within and beyond school, is essential in order to use the four strands of Reading for Pleasure pedagogy. These are four specific practices, given below, that, combined, motivate children to choose to read and become frequent readers:
1. Reading aloud to, and with, children. This is in addition to reading aloud as part of literacy teaching. Reading aloud for pleasure enables children to access rich, challenging texts, offers a model for silent reading, prompts affective engagement and creates a class repertoire of ‘texts in common’ to discuss. We share stories with our children every day.
2. Informal book talk and book play. Talk about texts is essential to all literacy teaching, but this reader-to-reader talk is more informal, often spontaneous, and includes book-related play and recommendations. Teachers model book recommendations and children then share theirs across the academic year.
3. Choice-led time to read. Children need time to read and be given support for making informed choices from a core set of texts that have been read to them, and from other texts that tempt them. Children have the opportunity to revisit familiar books to read and enjoy in class.
4. Social reading environments. These are key to creating a strong reading culture. Successful environments invite readers to engage and share the pleasures of reading.
We aim to ensure our children leave us as confident, capable and creative writers who can write for a range of audiences and purposes. Writing is a challenging skill to master so we have worked with Pie Corbett and his team to develop our Talk 4 Writing curriculum, which is progressive and cumulative so that children’s learning will build over time, from Early Years to Year 6.
Talk for Writing is a nationally, and internationally, recognised process, created by Pie Corbett, and has proven to have significant impact on developing children as writers.
Click here to watch a short YouTube video explaining 'What is Talk for Writing?'
Talk for Writing is impactful because it is based on how children learn and is rooted in research and best practice. The approach moves children systematically and supportively from being a dependent writer through to an independent one and complements how we teach reading – they both strengthen one another. Oracy, reading and being influenced by quality literature, are central to the process. Talk for Writing is inclusive which means that all children can learn to be a writer and it also supports children with English as an Additional Language by immersing them in language and scaffolding the acquisition of it.
The process of Talk for Writing is based on three phases:
Children explore and learn how a text or story has been written.
Children have a go at using the skills that they have learnt in the imitation phase and use them to write their own version. During this stage the teacher will still support, help and guide the children through shared and guided writing.
Children have a go by themselves using all of the skills that they have learnt and practised, evidencing what they have learnt and can apply independently
We ensure that children have regular opportunities to learn new skills but to also revisit and apply ones that have been previously taught – we call this interleaving and interweaving our knowledge and skills.
Our curriculum ensures that during each writing unit, children explore high quality texts and literature as we believe that it is important that they are influenced by the finest writing we have and they learn how to plan, draft, edit and publish their work.
Sample plans can be viewed below