Phonics and Reading
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”– Dr Seuss
What do we want for our children?
The study of English develops children’s ability to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of audiences and purposes. It is our desire that through our English curriculum children at Preston Park developing and maintain a life-long relationship with reading. Reading is power and ignites a love of learning in our children. It enables them to be curious in what they know and learn, and to confident. Reading will aid our children to broaden their horizons and encourage them to take risks.
Since 2022, we have been following a teaching for mastery curriculum in English. Promoted by the Department for Education since 2015, this is largely based around employing approaches that help children to develop a deep and secure knowledge and understanding of the English language.
A culture of reading is embedded within our school. We have an absolute and relentless focus on reading in line with the National Curriculum, 2014, which places reading for pleasure at the heart of the English curriculum. We recognise that developing a love of reading is one of the most effective ways we are able to raise attainment and life choices for our children.
At our school, we support all children to make effective progress in English. Through purposeful models specific to our intent, all children will develop a richer vocabulary, enabling them to articulate themselves clearly and are equipped with the necessary social skills to succeed in life.
Fostering reflective and critical thinking means that all children can enhance their understanding through questioning and are empowered to be information literate. A focus on spoken language and comprehension will strengthen their understanding further and create more independent, civically engaged members of society.
How do we deliver phonics effectively?
At Preston Park, we believe that the teaching of phonics and spelling is an integral part of children’s reading and writing development. We want the children to acquire a wide vocabulary and be able to read and spell new words, confidently and independently. They can do this by effectively applying, both in reading and writing, the spelling patterns and rules they learn throughout their time in primary school through quality first phonics teaching.
At Preston Park we use a synthetic phonics programme to teach reading called 'Read Write Inc' produced by Ruth Miskin from Nursery to Year 2.
Read Write Inc Phonics is a method of teaching reading which is centred around learning the sounds of the letters (phonics), and then blending them together to read words. The children also learn to break down words into individual sounds in order to write them. Read Write Inc. Phonics teaches children to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension. They learn to form each letter, spell correctly and compose their ideas step-by-step.
Starting with our youngest children in Nursery, the programme allows children to learn letter sounds in a systematic way and develops their ability to read accurately and fluently whilst teaching handwriting and spellings, also, to develop each child’s confidence, resilience and engagement in phonics lessons and a love for reading and writing. The children enjoy learning to read and write through praise, participation, purpose, passion and pace with the help of ‘Fred the Frog’.
There are five key principles that underpin the teaching in all Read Write Inc. sessions:
As they are in small groups, children participate fully in every session. They are able to maintain high levels of concentration and so do not miss key elements of teaching.
Children work together as partners. They take turns to teach and praise each other. They are motivated by praise from their teachers and teaching assistants.
Sessions are fast paced and lively. This keeps every child fully engaged and on task.
Every instructor has been trained in the Read Write Inc. methods. They know the purpose of each activity and how it leads into the next.
Instructors too become passionate about their teaching as they see the children enjoying the progress they are making.
In Key Stage 1 (Years One and Two), in addition to our daily phonics session, children have daily guided reading comprehension sessions from Year 1 onwards to ensure that children read age-related texts and answer questions in relation to the following stems: Clarifying, Inference, Prediction, Explaining, Questioning and Sequencing. We use this as our method to explicitly teach each skill, focussing on a new stem weekly. These whole class or group reading comprehension sessions are used as a powerful tool to allow all children to make progress in reading and provide regular and supportive opportunities for children to encounter engaging texts that will resonate with their interests and capture their imagination. This prepares them for the next phase of their education where they build on these skills using Destination Reader.
Destination Reader is an approach to teaching reading in Key Stage Two. It involves daily sessions incorporating whole class modelling prior to the children applying these skills through partner work and independent reading. Children deepen their understanding of the texts they read through the systematic use of a series of strategies and language stems. The approach encompasses the key principles of effective reading provision and fully meets the requirements of the National Curriculum. It also builds a culture of reading for pleasure and purpose.
What does this look like for our children?
Children are exposed to a wide range of high- quality texts which are displayed through our ‘Year Group Libraries’. These libraries show all the texts that children are exposed to during their English and Reading sessions.
Included in our Reading curriculum are ‘Windows and Mirrors’ texts. These texts are diverse and current storybooks that windows into the lives of all children and mirrors for children’s own lives. They are relatable and current, touching on many significant topics that affect many children’s lives. These include:
- identity and belonging
Reading for pleasure is encouraged daily. In addition to phonics sessions, which take place in KS1 and EYFS, pupils are also immersed in reading throughout the school day via a number of different initiatives. Pupils (in all key stages) have a daily ‘story time’ session at the end of the day, where they listen to a text, read to each other and have the chance to share book recommendations.
At Preston Park, our love for reading is always at the heart of everything we do. We have our own team of ‘librarians’ that look after our class book corners, organise genres and give book recommendations to other children. Our librarians take responsibility for taking care of our class texts and ensuring that all children are confident to choose stories that they will enjoy. Librarians meet with our Reading Leader every week to discuss new books and how reading for pleasure is happening in their classroom. They attend book club weekly in the library where the children have an opportunity to discuss what they are reading and what they would like to
At Preston Park, we learn to read through Read Write Inc phonics. As part of this programme, your child will be talking home two reading books weekly. Your child will receive their ‘class text’ as a paper copy and their ‘book bag book’ to reinforce their knowledge learnt in phonics lessons. Books are given out every Monday and are to be returned on Friday by your child’s phonics teacher.
In addition to this, children also receive a reading book for pleasure in which they use to fill out their reading record which is checked weekly by their teacher. Children also receive a levelled benchmark book to be ready alongside this weekly.
Progression in Skills and Understanding
Read Write Inc. Progression
At the end of each half term, each child is assessed on their sound recognition and reading, to ensure that progress has been made. As children progress through the levels, they are regularly assessed to ensure they are placed in groups most appropriate for them. For children who need further support with their phonic knowledge, interventions are in place. Alternatively, children may also be ‘fast-tracked’ to a more-able group when their progress warrants this.
The Read Write Inc. sessions last 45 minutes and includes a variety of activities delivered with pace and rigour. Children have the opportunity to learn sounds which are reinforced during the sessions with reading activities and spelling games, where the learning is put into practise.
Reading Progression (Years One to Six)
We believe that children need to develop a secure knowledge-base in literacy which follows a clear pathway of progression as they advance through the primary curriculum. Teachers therefore plan ensuring a model of progression is sustained throughout school.
How does our Reading curriculum contribute to and develop our 21st Century learner?
The impact of our Reading success is measured through pupils being able to decode and recognise enough sight words at the end of their Key Stage 1 programme of study to be able to confidently and fluently read a text at their level. Once children have progressed through our RWI, pupils will use a range of strategies for decoding words, not solely relying on phonics. Despite a child’s reading ability, all children will be able to succeed in reading lessons where they will read across a range of genres. Children at our school will know a wide range of authors.
- Pupils will have a good knowledge of a range of authors and genres
- Pupils will ignite a love of reading that lasts a lifetime
- Pupils will be ready to read in any subject in their forthcoming secondary education
- Pupils will be confident and excited about reading, they will be inspired to explore a range of texts and share their learning with others
At Preston Park, we prepare our children for the Phonics Screening Check through quality first teaching, high quality interventions and virtual links. As a school we are incredibly proud of our historical phonics screening results.
Research frames our thinking in what we teach and how we deliver it to our children to ensure teaching and learning has maximum impact.
Please see references to the research linked above: