Early Reading and Phonics

School policy on phonics and the teaching of early reading

Our pupils learn to read and write effectively and quickly using the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme.

The Read Write Inc. Phonics programme is for:

  • pupils in Foundation 2 (Reception) to Year 2 who are learning to read and write
  • any pupils in Years 2, 3 and 4 who need to catch up rapidly.

Struggling readers in Years 5 and 6 are supported to catch up where needed.

We teach pupils to:

  • decode letter-sound correspondences quickly and effortlessly, using their phonic knowledge and skills
  • read ‘tricky’ words on sight
  • understand what they read
  • read aloud with fluency and expression

We group pupils across year groups, according to their progress in reading rather than their writing. This can mean that each phonics group may have children from Y1 to Y3 in it. At present, Foundation children are grouped by phonic ability, but are not integrated into the groups with the wider school.

We begin teaching children to listen to the sounds in words during Foundation 1 and introduce the first letters when the children are ready for them, usually in the Summer term. In Foundation 2, we emphasise the alphabetic code. The pupils rapidly learn sounds and the letter or groups of letters they need to represent them. Simple mnemonics help them to grasp this quickly. This is especially useful for pupils at risk of making slower progress. This learning is consolidated daily. Pupils have frequent practice in reading high frequency words with irregular spellings – ‘tricky words’.

We make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and the ‘tricky words’. This is so that, early on, they experience success and gain confidence that they are readers. Re-reading and discussing these books with the teacher supports their increasingly fluent decoding.

Alongside this, the teachers read a wide range of stories, poetry and non-fiction to pupils; they are soon able to read these texts for themselves. In addition, children are given a phonics based book from our ‘Phonics Bug’ scheme, a book from our extensive colour banded scheme, which might not be purely phonics based and a book from our Library each week, any or all of which can be read at home.

Assessment is a critical element of our programme. The teachers assess:

  • pupils’ phonic knowledge
  • the speed at which pupils are able to read the text
  • their understanding of the stories they read.

We record the results from the Sound and Word Assessments, which take place every eight weeks, on the Assessment Tracker. These data allow us to intervene in different ways. For instance, we quickly move pupils to another group if they are progressing faster than their peers. Those who continue to struggle have one-to-one tutoring so that they keep up.