‘Reading is the one ability, that once set in motion, has the ability to feed itself, grow exponentially and provide a basis from which possibilities are limitless.’ Michael Morpurgo
We believe that reading is the key that unlocks the world around us. It is a lifelong skill that is crucial to a child’s development and will open many doors for them in their future lives. Our school commits to inspiring all children to develop a love of reading and see reading as an enjoyable experience. We are committed to using high quality texts and offer an accessible reading experience that all pupils can participate in. One of the key drivers behind our reading curriculum is the need to widen our pupils’ vocabulary due to the demographic of our school community, particularly the high percentage of EAL students we teach.
Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS) is our chosen Phonics programme. The aim of ELS is ‘Getting all children to read well, quickly’. It teaches children to read by identifying the phonemes (the smallest unit of sound) and graphemes (the written version of the sound) within words and using these to read words.
Children begin learning Phonics at the very beginning of Reception and it is explicitly taught every day during a dedicated slot on the timetable. Children are given the knowledge and the skills to then apply this independently.
Throughout the day, children use their growing Phonics knowledge to support them in other areas of the curriculum and have many opportunities to practise their reading. This includes reading 1:1 with a member of staff, with a partner during paired reading and as a class.
Children continue daily Phonics lessons in Year 1 and further through the school to ensure all children become confident, fluent readers.
We follow the ELS progression and sequence. This allows our children to practise their existing phonic knowledge whilst building their understanding of the ‘code’ of our language GPCs (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence). As a result, our children can tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover.
Children experience the joy of books and language whilst rapidly acquiring the skills they need to become fluent independent readers and writers. ELS teaches relevant, useful and ambitious vocabulary to support each child’s journey to becoming fluent and independent readers.
We begin by teaching the single letter sounds before moving to diagraphs (two letters spelling one sound - ‘sh’), trigraphs (three letters spelling one sound - ‘igh’) and quadgraphs (four letters spelling one sound - ‘eigh’).
We teach children to:
• Decode (read) by identifying each sound within a word and blending them together to read fluently
• Encode (write) by segmenting each sound to write words accurately
The structure of ELS lessons allows children to know what is coming next, what they need to do, and how to achieve success. This makes it easier for children to learn the GPCs we are teaching (the alphabetic code) and how to apply this when reading.
ELS is designed on the principle that children should ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’. Since interventions are delivered within the lesson by the teacher, any child who is struggling with the new knowledge can be immediately targeted with appropriate support. Where further support is required, 1:1 interventions are used where needed. These interventions are short, specific and effective.
Supporting Reading at Home:
- Children will bring home two books that are entirely decodable (this means that they should be able to read these books as they already know the code contained within the book) and also a book which they have chosen themselves.
- We only use pure sounds when decoding words (no ‘uh’ after the sound).
- We want children to practise reading their book 4 times across the week, working on these skills:
Decode – sounding out and blending to read the word.
Fluency – reading words with less obvious decoding.
Expression – using intonation and expression to bring the text to life!
We must use pure sounds when we are pronouncing the sounds and supporting children in reading words. If we mispronounce these sounds, we will make reading harder for our children. Please watch the videos below for how to accurately pronounce these sounds.
More support for parents and carers can be found here:
Phase 2 sound pronunciation: Phase 2 Pronunciation
Phase 3 sound pronunciation: Phase 3 Pronunciation
Phase 5 sound pronunciation: Phase 5 Pronunciation
Whole Class Guided Reading
From Year 2 upwards, pupils take part in whole class Guided Reading lessons. KS1 cover summarising/retelling, predicting, inference & questioning. In addition to building on these strategies taught in KS1, KS2 focus on noting text structure, clarifying, thinking aloud and visualising. Our progression of skills document for all these strategies ensures that the level of challenge is appropriately increasing from one year group to the next.
For those pupils who are struggling to keep up with their peers, we carry out an initial assessment to see where their gaps lie, whether that be in phonics, fluency or comprehension. Once this is determined, appropriate intervention is put in place.