Appleton C of E Primary School

Early Reading and Phonics

What is phonics?

Phonics teaches children how to hear individual sounds, blend them together for reading, and separate and form them for writing. Phonics teaches children the relationship between sounds and letters in a progressive and organised structure that enables children quickly and confidently to become readers and writers. 

Aims of phonics

We aim for our children to be enthusiastic readers who are able to: 

  • Recognise reading as a pleasurable and enjoyable activity 
  • Use reading to support other learning 
  • Perceive reading as a purposeful, lifelong skill 
  • Use a range of reading strategies to help them with unfamiliar texts, enabling them to become independent readers 

How is it taught

At Appleton C of E Primary School we have a wealth of children’s literature in school, ranging from poetry, classic and modern fiction, picture books and non-fiction texts. In addition to these we have structured reading scheme books, big books, stories on CD and the IWB, and a range of resources to support reading. Our pupils learn how books work by differentiating between print and pictures, retelling stories, and beginning to use appropriate story language. Pre-reading skills are built on and these help children to match patterns, follow sequences, build up both visual and auditory memory, and use picture clues to infer meaning. Children are encouraged to share their own favourite books and explain why they like them. From Foundation Stage, pupils begin to identify non-fiction text and use it to support their learning. 

Phonic Skills: 

At Appleton C of E Primary School, children follow a systematic approach to teaching phonic skills called ‘Read Write Inc’ (RWI). The programme teaches children to develop key knowledge of letter sounds, how to blend sounds, how to write sounds, how to recognise different graphic representations, and how to build and decode words. Children will also begin to recognise key sight vocabulary often known as ‘tricky’ or ‘red’ words. This includes words such as ‘said’ which cannot be sounded out. We provide information for parents about how to implement phonic knowledge through parent workshops and parent meetings. 

Development of skills: 

Children are taught to employ a broad range of reading strategies enabling them to grow in their independence. As their skills progress, they will be encouraged to increase their repertoire of texts and they will begin to make critical judgements about these texts. They will experience ‘real’ books, poetry, non-fiction, reading scheme books and other print media. They will develop a growing knowledge and understanding of the conventions of non-fiction. For example: contents, index, diagrams, headings and glossaries.

Overall, the children will be encouraged to read for pleasure and purpose. They will develop the confidence to read independently and fluently, understanding how punctuation is used to add meaning. From Foundation Stage, children will discuss the feelings of characters and why these characters act in a particular way. From Year One, group reading is used to ensure that children understand the text and can articulate their responses to it. They will begin to understand inference and figurative language and subtle meanings within the text. 

Teachers share books with their class daily during designated story times which bring the children into contact with a wide range of children’s literature and ensures that they are hearing more complex language structures and storylines than they may be able to read for themselves. This also emphasises reading for pleasure and relaxation. Many stories and poems will be brought to life through the use of story sacks, drama and role play activities. 

Our growing library includes fiction as well as non-fiction books. This enables children to have a wider variety of books to read within school and to borrow and take home to share with their parents or read independently. 

Reading at Home: 

All children will take home a variety of reading books. 

From Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1, RWI colour-coded books will be closely matched to each child’s phonological knowledge and sent home weekly for the child to read with an adult. Other books are sent home to be shared and often are chosen by the child from our school library. 

We place great importance on the support families can give their children by reading with them, and to them, and we have the expectation that all pupils read at home at least three times a week. We encourage parents to come into school to assist with reading practice within any year group. Throughout the year, we provide families with information and resources on different ways of enjoying books and reading at home. At parent-teacher meetings, we discuss the nuanced ways that families can support their child in their reading.