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Approach to Phonics and Reading Schemes

At Little Melton Primary School, we believe in developing a reading culture throughout the school by creating welcoming book areas in classrooms, a school library hosting a variety of books, and raising the profile of reading through a print rich environment, attractive book displays and promoting the written word at all times.

In Foundation Stage and Key Stage One the children are taught to read using the “Letters and Sounds”. This programme teaches children to decode text phonetically by introducing them to different phonemes (sounds) step by step.

“Letters and Sounds” takes children through six Phases, with children typically moving through Phases 1-4 during Reception, and then onto Phase 5 and 6 throughout Year 1 and 2. Phase 1 prepares children for hearing the sounds by practising their listening skills. Phase 2 introduces the initial sounds and double consonants. Children also begin to segment sounds and blend them together to read words. Phase 3 introduces sounds made up of two letters e.g. “oo”. Phase 4 consolidates these sounds and the children practise segmenting and blending longer words. Phase 5 introduces alternative ways to spell different sounds e.g. “ay” in “day” and “ai” in “rain”. Phase 6 introduces various spelling patterns which help children to spell more accurately using their phonic knowledge. Throughout these phases children are introduced to certain “tricky” words that cannot be sounded out. These are also called “High-Frequency Words” which the children will come into contact with regularly in their reading.

The children are taught in whole-class teaching sessions, and each session goes through a Revisit – Teach – Practise – Apply format so the children are able to consolidate their learning in a pacey, engaging style. Children are closely monitored to assess their learning and they are also assessed termly to check their progress, with teaching adjusted accordingly.

Children use reading books which are closely aligned to their progress in phonics. Our books are organised in this way, and we aim to ensure that children in their independent reading, and with parents at home, are reading books using sounds that they have been introduced to in class. This guidance comes from ‘Bold Beginnings’ (Ofsted, 2017)

Throughout all key stages children also have regular access to group guided reading sessions, where texts are explored with a particular focus i.e. use of vocabulary, structure of different text types. Independent and proficient readers, typically from Year 2 onwards, are able to access the ‘Accelerated Reader’ scheme in school. This has been recognised by the Education Endowment Foundation (2019) as a very good approach to developing children’s independence and comprehension skills, and involves regular online assessments leading to guided book choices based on reading ability. Books can  be chosen from both the school library, and any other sources using this system.

Parents are an integral part in the children’s ‘reading journey’. We encourage children to read at home on a daily basis and communication between school and home is recorded in a ‘Reading Record’. We invite parents/ members of the community to come and read with children both individually and as a group. We have also organised regular monthly visits from the public library van, a subscription to the school library service, and frequently take part in reading promotions- usually through Norfolk libraries.