Early Reading and Phonics

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Intent - What we want for our Early Reading and Phonics curriculum?

At Horn’s Mill, we provide a rich reading environment which is underpinned by quality first teaching of phonics; our children learn to listen, speak and discriminate between sounds and our carefully sequenced approach allows children to become confident in segmenting, blending, and decoding words throughout each phonics phase. By doing so, we aim to develop confident, fluent and passionate readers and writers from an early stage.

Implementation - How is the curriculum delivered?

The teaching of Phonics and Early Reading

At Horn’s Mill, we teach phonics using the ‘Read Write Inc’ programme. Phonics is taught across Reception and KS1 during a daily 50-minute session we call ‘Ready Steady Read’ and is carefully delivered through a range of progressive and sequenced lessons.  Ready Steady Read is delivered by all teachers and highly trained teaching assistants. Following a half termly assessment, phonics groups are carefully planned to ensure focused phonics teaching is delivered for the specific needs of all pupils. Children learn alongside other children who are working at the same level.  

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Each session is split into two parts; the speed sounds section and the reading section.

The speed sounds section includes the teaching, reading and spelling of new sounds and the review of previously taught sounds. Phonic sounds are taught in 3 sets that children progress through across Reception & KS1. In this section of the lesson, children are also taught to blend sounds using pure sounds and to use 'Fred Talk' and 'Fred in their Head' to read real and nonense (alien) words.

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The reading section gives children the opportunity to apply their phonic knowledge and developing reading skills in context. It supports the development of wider reading skills including fluency, expression and comprehension. Development of vocabulary is also a new key part of the delivery of the RWI programme. Children progress through the coloured books as their early reading skills develop and the teaching of common exception words align with this. Children are given the opportunity to read a range of fiction and non-fiction texts. The reading section also incorporates activities that support the development of children’s early writing skills and the application of taught phonics into writing. 

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Our phonics sessions are fast paced, clearly modelled, interactive and challenging to ensure effective learning and progress is made. Children work in pairs to answer every question, practise every activity with their partner and take turns in talking to each other, The five key principles underpin the teaching in all Ready Steady Read sessions; Purpose, Participation, Praise, Pace and Passion.

Outside of the daily phonics session, opportunities are given in classroom environments for children to further apply and practise their developing phonics skills. Carefully planned interventions and extra sessions are also planned into the curriculum for children who need it.

Children in KS2 continue on the programme if this is appropriate for individual children’s needs, and catch up sessions and interventions are provided to ensure that all children meet the expected standard eventually. Previously learnt phonics knowledge is revisited throughout KS2 to ensure consolidation of learning.

Reading books                                                                                                                                  

We use a range of fully decodable books which have been carefully organised to match the sounds that our children learn each week. Our children take home a decodable ‘Book Bag Book’ so that they are able to apply their new knowledge and phonic skills at an appropriate level. They will also have an additional book from our classroom library, which may not be decodable but is to share at home in order to develop their vocabulary and interests.

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Our children are given daily opportunities to practise their reading fluency. They may experience 1:1 reading with a teacher, teaching assistant, or parent reader and will also practise reading aloud during whole class shared reading.

At Horn’s Mill, we always aim to promote reading for pleasure as this plays a major role in reading development. Our teachers are readers and share their love of reading with their children in a range of ways, including daily class reads, recommendations and DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read.) Each classroom has an inviting reading area, resourced with high-quality and diverse texts, familiar stories and books linked to classroom learning. 

Impact - How do we know our Phonics and Early Reading curriculum is effective?

Our curriculum aim is that children flourish into fluent, confident young readers and enjoy their phonics learning. Children know more, remember more and understand more about phonics, demonstrating this knowledge in all areas of the curriculum involving reading and writing. Children will be given a range of opportunities to showcase their developing phonics and early reading skills throughout the school day.

Parents have a clear understanding of how phonics is taught throughout the school and the impact it is having on their children. They also understand how to further support their children with this learning at home and appreciate the importance of reading with their children as often as possible.

Summative Assessment

Each half term, children on the RWI programme complete a phonic assessment. These assessments support the planning of the next half term's phonics groups, to ensure that phonics teaching is being specifically delivered to support all children’s individual next steps. These assessments also help us to appraise the impact of our curriculum, whilst also informing teachers' planning for extra phonics and early reading progression outside of the daily phonics session. The phonics lead analyses the half termly assessments and recommends appropriate support and interventions for individual children within each class. 

Statutory Assessment

Children’s phonics knowledge and early reading skills are assessed as part of EYFS profile assessment at the end of Reception and by undertaking the Phonics Screening Test at the end of Year 1.

Further useful links about phonics and early reading are available below.

If you have any further enquiries relating to the Early reading and phonics curriculum, please email Miss Steen on asteen@hornsmill.cheshire.sch.uk.