How we teach Phonics and Reading
Reading at Redhill
Phonics at Redhill
At Redhill we are very proud of our rigorous and successful approach to the teaching of reading. Our aim is excellence: we expect that every child, where possible, passes the phonics check in Year 1. In Year 6 we aim for a majority of children to achieve the ‘greater depth’ standard. We have achieved these high standards consistently and Redhill is often placed in the top 10% of schools nationally for reading results.
Success in reading has a direct effect upon progress in all other areas of the curriculum. It is crucial in developing children’s self-confidence and motivation. At Redhill we want every child to become confident, enthusiastic and self-reflective readers. For the teaching of early reading to be successful, it needs a balanced and creative approach in a context of rich oral language development. This should include the systematic teaching of phonics, as well as focus on application, exploring comprehension and meaning, and reading enjoyment. Oracy is key to developing reading and writing skills and a focus on drama at Redhill provides a vehicle for developing speaking skills throughout school.
We want children to read for pleasure: motivation to read is a crucial component of a teacher's job and teachers at Redhill seek to nurture a love of reading in children. Teachers are enthusiastic about books and reading, inspiring children to read. This is vital in helping us to achieve our high standards. We believe it is important to immerse children in a rich reading environment which we achieve through our ‘storybook curriculum’ which places books at the heart of what we teach.
A whole school approach
Each term, every class at Redhill uses a different book at an appropriate level as a basis for much of the curriculum, which helps to make meaningful links between subject areas. Immersing children fully in the world of a story helps to foster enthusiasm for reading. It also means that, by the end of Key Stage 2, every child will have read a variety of high quality and challenging novels. Each teacher reads aloud to their class on a daily basis and constantly look for ways to inspire readers. As a result children are able to talk confidently about genres and authors they enjoy.
Early reading is taught using synthetic phonics, whereby pupils are systematically taught the phonemes (sounds), how to blend the sounds all through the word for reading, and how to segment the sounds in order to write words. They are taught to use their phonic skills and knowledge as their first approach to reading, but are also taught ‘tricky words’ and common exception words which do not completely follow the phonic rules.
Our progressive approach to teaching phonics follows the DfE approved Phonics Bug programme which all classes follow for the teaching of phonics and early reading. In this scheme, we systematically build on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. We also use the online Bug Club resource - an interactive resource that models the skills of segmenting and blending as well as providing interactive phonetical books and games.
All children in Reception and Key stage 1 take part in a daily twenty minute, high quality phonics sessions. These sessions focus on key reading skills such as decoding to read words and segmenting the sounds in a given word to spell. During Phonics lessons we also teach children to read and write ‘tricky words’ and common exception words. These are words that cannot easily be sounded out so children are explicitly taught how to read and write them. Our phonics sessions are designed to be fun and interactive and children’s achievement is carefully and frequently tracked to ensure progress is rapid.
We have recently invested in a wide range of fully decodable books for children to take home and practise the focussed sounds that they are working on in school.
Reading fluency and comprehension
Reading is a multi-faceted skill. Our phonics approach enables children to make the best start with decoding and phonological awareness, leading to word recognition. The teaching of reading throughout school is designed to build on this, providing opportunities for children to learn and practise comprehension and fluency skills, using the National Curriculum as our framework. We have a clear progression which sets out, for each year group, what provision is made for 1:1 reading, group reading and the whole class teaching of reading skills. We use our VIPERS strategies - and their associated characters: Bertie's Buddies - for the explicit teaching of comprehension skills, with the aim of helping children become active, reflective readers.