Phonics

At St. Luke’s we believe Reading is the most important skill we can teach children in order for them to succeed throughout the curriculum and their education. Our new phonics programme, ‘Essential Letters and Sounds,’ develops early reading rapidly, and supports children who require further repetition and support. This is taught from EYFS.

In phonics, our provision is designed to ensure that all of our children will learn to read well. Phonics provides the roots for reading that help our children grow into confident readers with reading for pleasure at the very heart of our reading curriculum. We believe that all children should progress through the phonics phases with fluency and confidence and thus we place high importance on high quality teaching and resources. Phonics and reading are essential tools to access the whole curriculum, to engage and make sense of knowledge and to explore, question and respond to the world. A strong phonics basis enables us to ensure or children flourish as readers and therefore develop socially, emotionally, intellectually and culturally. We offer a structure and sequence of lessons to help teachers ensure they have covered the skills required to meet the aims of our phonics programme and these lessons are supported by a vast range of high-quality resources.

In order for us to enhance our high-quality synthetic phonics programme, we ensure:

  • Correct pronunciation by children and adults
  • A clear understanding of age-related expectations
  • Systematically working through each phase
  • A multi-sensory approach
  • Fully interactive sessions
  • Children are taught to blend phonemes, in order, from left to right, all through the word
  • Children are taught to segment to spell
  • Children use phonics and word-building to lean to read and spell
  • Children learn high frequency words in sequence
  • Practise and apply: reading words individually, in sentences and in 100% fully decodable texts (matched to the teaching sequence)
  • Practise and apply: spelling words individually and in sentences.

 In the busyness of modern life, reading helps children to develop their imaginations, relax and develop their vocabulary. A child who reads at home, for 20 minutes a day is exposed to 1,800,000 words over a year, compared to 282,000 for children reading 5 minutes each day. The power and impact of reading is colossal and is the greatest gift we can give our children.

We want the time you spend reading with your child at home, to be a special and pleasurable experience for parents, children and the whole family! To support this, we have invested enormously in new reading books. These culturally diverse texts have been chosen to reflect the unique cultures and experiences of people living in the wider world.

Reception and Key Stage 1

From January 2022 we will be implementing the Synthetic Phonics Programme ‘Essential Letters and Sounds’, selected from the Department for Education’s list of validated phonics programmes. The teaching of ‘Essential Letters and Sounds’ begins at the start of Reception through to the end of Year 1.

Parents play a crucial role in the development of a child’s reading journey. Teaching staff will explicitly teach phonemic awareness of the alphabetic code during daily phonics lessons and provide opportunities for children to practise what they have learned in guided reading sessions. We ask that parents provide daily opportunities for children to practise the application of this learning using the decodable reading book that every child will bring home each week.

Each child in Reception and Year 1 will bring home a decodable reading practice book, selected from the Oxford University Press ‘Word Sparks’ reading scheme. This book will align with the Grapheme Phoneme Correspondences (GPCs) taught in the child’s phonics lessons from the previous week. Some of these texts are ‘Partner Texts’ designed with specific parts for an adult and child to read. Your child should be able to read the appropriate parts of the texts by themselves. Listening, supporting and praising your child as they read this book daily will provide invaluable motivation for them to read. Daily readings of the decodable reading practice book will also help to develop fluency and build confidence, both of which are fundamental to the success of becoming a reader.

Where a child is not yet secure in phonics and above Year 1, they will have regular phonics booster/ interventions to close the gaps in their learning as quickly as possible. In addition, these children will also take home a decodable reader in order to maximise the opportunities for such practice.

Decodable Readers

The decodable readers are from the ‘Word Sparks’ series published by Oxford University Press. The series combines explicit emphasis on vocabulary with systematic synthetic phonics practice. Children will learn new vocabulary at the same time as developing their decoding skills, fluency and comprehension.

Love to Read Book

In addition to the decodable readers, each child will take home a ‘Love to Read Book’ that they select from our school reading library. These books are to be read by an adult with the child sitting close by so that they can see the book too. These books will provide important opportunities to develop children’s comprehension skills, through discussions about the pictures, characters and plots. Children thrive on repetition of books that they enjoy, therefore having this book for a week allows for multiple readings and discussion.

Book Banded Books

Children in Year 1, will also bring home a third, additional ‘book banded book’. These books are not fully decodable but will help students’ progress in reading fluency, retelling abilities and comprehension within and beyond the text. These texts should be read with the help of an adult where needed.

Thriving on Repetition

It is not just the number of different stories children listen to that matters. On each re-reading, their familiarity with a story deepens and, with that, comes a greater emotional engagement.

When children ask for a story to be re-read, in effect they are asking for another chance to explore the language, the characters and their feelings, and to relive the emotions they felt on the first reading. They hear the same words read in the same way and gain a sense of comfort in knowing what follows. They wait for their favourite bits, ready to join in or ready to be scared, even when they already know what happens. Their attachment to the story equips them to retell it and, when they have learnt to read, encourages them to read it for themselves.

[Dfe Reading Framework: Teaching the foundations of literacy, July 2021]

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