At Hensall School we put reading and writing at the heart of learning. This starts with phonics taught through a systematic and structured programme.
The intent behind our approach to phonics is to:
- ensure that every child learns how to read and write fluently in order to unlock knowledge about the wider curriculum
- encourage children to read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure
- give children the skills to tackle unfamiliar words as they read
- enable children to apply the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to spell as they move through school.
We believe all children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we now teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression. It is similar to how we taught phonics previously, but parents with older children in school may notice some key differences, especially in terms of reading books coming home.
Mrs Thexton is our lead teacher for English and one of the teachers in Y2. She has made the following short videos which aim to help parents and carers understand how we teach and support children as they learn to read, and how parents and carers can play a vital role in this crucial learning goal. Please note that in the video, Mrs Thexton mentions some documents and links. These can be found at the bottom of this page.
In phonics, we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent a different sound, that these can be used in a variety of combinations and are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise all of the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing. Our phonics teaching starts in Reception and follows a very specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover.
- Daily phonics lessons start in Reception. At the beginning they will only be 10 minutes long but they slowly increase until they are 30 minutes long
- By the end of Reception, children will have been taught up to the end of Phase 4.
- By the end of Y1, children will have been taught up to the end of Phase 5 and they sit the statutory Phonics Screening Check
- In Y2-Y3, phonic lessons are taught daily to children where appropriate – following the model of Little Wandle but plugging specific gaps identified through assessment
- In Y4-Y6 children may still receive targeted phonics catch-up sessions to support their reading and writing where necessary.
Reading practice sessions
- Each child will be part of a reading practice group. This group will be led by an adult. In the group the children read a fully decodable book and practise the skills and vocabulary taught in the phonics sessions
- These sessions are 15 minutes long and happen three times a week. There are approximately 6 children in a group
- The sessions teach children how to practise the skills of decoding (reading the words accurately), prosody (reading with expression) and comprehension
- The children then take the same book home the following week to ensure success is shared with the family
Reading at home
- It is the school's role to teach reading. However parents/carers play a vital role too. It is essential that children have plenty of practice at home in order to become confident, fluent readers
- Each week, your child will bring home a Little Wandle practice reading book. They should be able to read almost every word in this book automatically. There may be one or two words that your child needs to sound out. This will be a book your child has already read at school so they will be practising being really fluent. If your child can read every word, then the book is at the right level to develop fluency. It does not mean that the book is 'too easy'
- Each week your child will also bring home a book that they have selected from our class library. Parents/carers - you should not expect your child to read this book independently. It is for you to read to your child - sharing discussions, looking at the pictures and exploring the content and vocabulary
- The sharing of this book is designed to encourage the child to develop a lifelong love of reading and the desire to read for pleasure.
At the end of Y1 children sit the phonics screening check. At Hensall the number of children who pass this check is above the national average. By the end of Y2 children are fluent readers. They confidently read longer texts using appropriate expression without overtly sounding out words. This allows them to concentrate on comprehension and unlocks the world of reading for pleasure and the wider curriculum.