At Grateley Primary School we believe that reading and writing are fundamental skills that allow children to access a rich and varied primary curriculum. We aim for all children to become confident readers and writers who can enjoy their learning and reach their potential. To this end, we place a strong emphasis on a progressive and systematic approach to the teaching of phonics; starting in the Foundation Stage, throughout Key Stage 1 and into Key Stage 2.
The aim of our phonics teaching is to provide children with a confident understanding of the alphabetic code to enable them to read and write with fluency. All children take part in daily, high quality teaching sessions which are structured to build a progression of knowledge and skills using the framework of ‘Revise, Teach, Practice and Apply’. The teaching of phonemes and their corresponding graphemes is systematic and follows a structured ‘phase’ approach, beginning with the most common single letter sounds at the beginning of the Foundation Stage, moving through digraphs, trigraphs and alternative representations, before moving on to more complex spelling rules. This systematic and well-paced programme means that children at the very start of their school career are quickly able to begin their reading and writing journeys and are able to progress. Teachers are able to use their secure knowledge of phonics teaching to formatively assess throughout sessions of whole class and group teaching which means they are able to respond quickly to the need for extra support for some children. Timely and targeted interventions are key to enabling children to maintain progress.
The teaching of phonics is delivered currently through the Letters and Sounds program; using a variety of multi-sensory and engaging activities, using resources to support children’s recall and confidence. Phonics is also at the heart of every classroom, demonstrated by the use of friezes, displays and word banks, as well as being evident in everyday teaching practices and classroom routines. The use of decodable texts to allow children to apply their phonic skills, is essential. Books and resources used within phonics lessons are closely matched to the correct level, providing children with confidence and success. We believe that strong links with home and parents are also important and parents can play a positive and supportive role in children’s phonic learning. Home learning flashcards, reading books and spelling lists are matched to the phonics practised in class, adding to the opportunities available for children to rehearse and overlearn.
Moving forward, our aim for the future is to continue to improve the rigorous and consistent approach to phonics teaching at Grateley by investing in a complete synthetic phonics programme, allowing all children to engage with activities and resources which are focussed and progressive but still tailored to specific cohort needs. The use of formative and summative assessment will remain key to setting the pace of teaching and the use of one, clear approach will allow for the smooth transition of children through the school. At the heart of reading and writing is a love of books and we aim to continue to improve our selection of decodable, phonics books so that they engage and enthuse our learners.