At Peninsula East Primary Academy, we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We believe that phonics provides the foundations of learning to make the development into fluent reading and writing easier. Through daily, systematic and consistent high quality phonics teaching, children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read words. To allow our children to develop a strong phonic awareness and effective blending and decoding skills, we have chosen to use a synthetic phonics programme called ‘Phonics International’ created by Debbie Hepplewhite. The phonics international programme is centred around teaching pupils grapheme-phoneme correspondence (reading and letter formation), blending sounds together to read, segmenting words to spell and applying these skills across the curriculum. We passionately believe that teaching children to read and write independently is one of the core purposes of a primary school, enabling them to access a broad and exciting curriculum and ensuring they flourish as learners throughout their time at our school. These fundamental skills not only hold the keys to the rest of the curriculum but also have a huge impact on children’s self-esteem and future life chances as well as fostering a love for reading at an early age.
We begin, in Reception, by teaching the children unit 1 sounds and then move through units 2 and 3, finishing off at the end of reception on unit 4 sounds. Children can start blending sounds into words as soon as they know a small group of letters well, for instance children will learn to read the words ‘s-a-t sat and t-i-p tip’ using the first 6 sounds they have learnt. Once the children have been taught a few of the first few sounds, they are then taught assisted blending using the sounds that they know. During lessons children are taught to hear sounds and blend them together in sequence to make a word. We start with blending sounds, then progress to reading the letters and blending them together to read the word. Unit 1 sounds are the single letter sounds and in unit 2 the children are introduced to diagraphs, which is where two letters make 1 sound ‘sh’. Unit 1 sounds are taught in the following order;
Unit 1- S, a, t, i, p, n, c, k, ck, e, h, r,
Units 1-8 are taught in reception to Year 2 and units 9-12 are taught in KS2, as and when needed. Units 1-4 are taught in reception, units 5 and 6 are taught in Year 1 and units 7 and 8 are taught in Year 2.
In a typical phonics international lesson, children will learn a new sound, over two days, a day of reading with that new sound and a day writing with that new sound. A lesson will start by revising all the sounds that they have already learnt. Children will then learn their new sound, looking at words that contain that word and recognising where they can see their new sound in the words. Children will then start reading and writing words which contain the new sound in.
Phonics lessons are taught every day from Reception to Year 2.
In reception children start by learning 2 new sounds a week and then revising the sounds learnt at the end of the week. As the children move to year 2 they will be learning and revising a new sound each day. Throughout Early Years and Key Stage 1, children are taught as a whole class, however, some children may be split into smaller focus groups which allows lessons to be focused and specific to the needs of the children. These groupings are based on assessments that are carried out at the start of each school year and then continue at the end of every module. This assessment shows the children’s current skill level allowing progression for most children but repetition and support for those that need more time on a specific set of sounds. Lessons are taught by both teachers and LSA’s who are supported by the phonics lead in their delivery.
Children begin their phonic learning in the nursery, where they learn to discriminate sounds and, through appropriate songs and activities, they begin to develop their awareness of the sounds around them and, when ready, letter sounds. In nursery, children will carry out a phonics lesson every day, however, this will look differently to how a typical phonics lesson may look in reception. In nursery children will carry out a range of activities, such as listening to sounds in the environment, going on sound hunts, listening to and playing musical instruments and starting to listen to initial sounds in words. All these fun, hands on activities, give children the fundamental skills and foundations for when they move up into Reception. In nursery, all these activities are exciting and engaging, which in turn give children the listening and speaking skills needed before they learn to read and write. Teachers in our nursery will work on these 7 aspects through games and songs (Environmental sounds, Instrumental sounds, Body percussion, Rhythm and rhyme, Alliteration, Voice sounds and Oral blending and segmenting).
As children build up their knowledge of sounds they are able to apply their decoding skills to any unfamiliar word, whether it be real or nonsense. As children move into Year 1 they will start to practice their decoding skills by sounding out nonsense words. Children are unable to rely on existing knowledge of real words, and instead have to use their letter-sound knowledge. This is an important part of the Phonics Screening Check that the children complete at the end of year 1.
To ensure the children in year 1 are ready for the phonics screening test, we make sure they are equipped with the skills that will help them to access the test. During the year, the phonics lead and the class teacher will make sure the children are exposed to a range of placebo words (nonsense words) as well as having access to previous phonics screening papers. This ensures that these words and papers are familiar to the children and it becomes something that they see regularly. A couple of modules before the phonics screening test, children are sent home with phonics screening papers, these can then be practised at home, which also gives parents/carers a really good understanding of what their children will be tested on. Every module, children will carry out a practice phonics screening paper, this will give the phonics lead and the year 1 teachers a good insight into who needs extra support to pass as well as showing which sounds need teaching or revising. Interventions are then set up to support those children who may need some extra help with certain sounds, words or segmenting and blending the real and nonsense words. These interventions are carried out by support staff, who are fully trained and have an excellent understanding of how to support children to make progress with their phonics knowledge. These interventions are overseen by the phonics lead and the class teachers. A few modules before the phonics screening test, the phonics lead will carry out phonics screening revision clubs, which are carried out after school. These revision clubs are put into place to give children a chance to practise for the phonics screening test in a fun and exciting way, using games, activities and having hands-on experiences. All of these interventions, clubs and home learning activities help give our year 1 children a brilliant chance to succeed when the time comes for them to take the phonics screening test. As well as phonics interventions in year 1, we also have phonics interventions running from reception to Year 2, which are focused on segmenting and blending, sound recognition and sentence reading and writing.
Each child will be sent home with a reading book, which is fully decodable, especially for Reception children who are learning to segment and blend simple words and sentences. Pupils reading books are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics; so they experience early reading success and gain confidence that they are readers, as well as consolidating the learning that takes place in school. Reading books are set out into colour bands, which help teachers choose books which are suitable for each child and their phonics knowledge. Reading books are changed at school at least twice a week and should be read at home every night. Reading at home with your child is incredibly important to support your child’s reading skills and progression. It is also a time for you and your child to enjoy some time together, enjoying books and fostering a love of reading. At school, children will read to a teacher as well as reading with parent helpers. At school we foster a love of reading by reading a range of different books and texts throughout our curriculum as well as reading stories at the end of each day. In class, children have a variety of books, in beautifully set out reading areas. Children have a chance to choose books and read these independently or with their peers. In school we ensure that children are exposed to books and stories from different places, cultures and countries. Our children are confident at knowing where they are able to access books, in their classrooms and around school, this gives the children independence to choose books that interest them.
At Peninsula East Primary Academy we are here to support you and your child through their phonics journey at school. When children start school in Reception, we will send home an information guide, this will explain how phonics is taught, what our scheme looks like, helpful resources and websites and information on how to support your child at home with their reading, writing and phonics skills. Children in Reception to Year 2 are sent home with phonics homework once a week, this helps your child to consolidate their learning from school, as well as giving you an insight into what sounds and skills they have been learning in their phonics lessons. In Reception, parents will be sent home with a list of sounds, in the order in which they are taught. As a parent, this will help you to see which sounds are being taught as well as using this as a resource to help your child revise the sounds at home. Supporting your child at home with their phonics skills and sounds, helps them to embed these skills they have learnt at school and we want to give you the confidence and knowledge to be able to do this. There will also be opportunities for you to come into your child’s class and watch/ observe a phonics lesson, taught by your child’s teacher. This will give you a clearer insight into what a normal phonics lesson looks like, how a phonics lesson is set up as well as hearing some of the terminology that we use frequently with the children during these lessons. It will also give you the opportunity to ask or think of any questions you may have regarding your child’s phonics learning. When children in year 1 have their phonics screening test, information will be sent home which explains in detail what the phonics screening is, how children are tested and what the test looks like. This information will also explain how you can support your child at home with the phonics screening test as well as a bank of useful websites and documents which have activities and games to support your child.
As a school, we are always here to help and answer any questions you may have about supporting your child with their phonics development and how to support them at home.
Through the consistent, systematic and daily teaching of the Phonics International programme, our aim is for children to become fluent, confident readers by the end of Key Stage One. Children are assessed at the end of Year 1 using a Government Statutory Assessment Tool known as the Phonics Screening Check. This screening check confirms whether the child has learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard and will identify sounds needing further support in Year 2. The children are assessed one to one by a familiar adult, which is usually the class teacher.
From reception to year 2, children are assessed regularly to check that they are retaining sounds that have been taught. This is done during phonics lessons by recapping previous sound knowledge as well as carrying out phonics assessments at the end of every module. These phonics assessments help to highlight which sounds children are able to recall and whether there are any gaps with their sound knowledge. These assessments are then used to inform planning as well as helping teaching staff to plan for interventions accordingly. Assessments will also be carried out during interventions to insure that children are progressing as well as helping to inform future planning for that intervention group. The class teacher will usually carry out these assessments, however, other members of staff may carry out assessments for interventions or for smaller groups.
Through the Phonics international programme, children will be equipped with the skills to decode unfamiliar words using strategies that they have been taught in their daily lessons. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school. This will lead to a love of reading and children taking pleasure in exploring the rich literary world around them with a firm phonic basis to support them.
At PEPA, reading lies at the heart of our curriculum. We believe that reading is an essential life skill and it is our intent to empower our children to become lifelong readers by fostering a love of reading through listening to and interacting with a variety of literature, genres and authors.
We aim for children to be absorbed in as many opportunities to enjoy and celebrate reading as this skill enables children to develop their learning across the wider curriculum. By enriching children’s experiences through imaginative stories and thought-provoking texts, we aspire to lay the foundations for academic success.
We recognise the importance of taking a consistent whole school approach to the teaching of reading in order to close any gaps and to target the highest possible number of children attaining the expected standard or higher.
Embedding reading throughout our children’s learning across all areas of the curriculum, the PYP and their personal experiences is how we implement our vision.
In Foundation Stage and KS1 we use a systematic synthetic phonics programme called ‘Phonics International’, which is supported by comprehensive resources. All children have daily phonics/spelling sessions where they participate in speaking, listening, spelling and reading activities that are matched to their current needs. Teachers draw upon observations and continuous assessment to ensure children are stretched and challenged, and identify those who may need additional support. For those children requiring phonics intervention, this is carefully planned for by assessing their individual gaps and using small group support to target their needs.
We ensure that children are offered high-quality books that reflect the diversity of our modern world and recognise the importance of reading at home to develop and embed reading skills. Banded titles, which are closely matched to each child’s phonic ability, are used for home-reading to ensure that children experience a wide breadth of reading opportunities across different genres. Home reading is tracked using reading records and we hold class competitions to increase engagement with home reading. Children work through the wide variety of books at their own pace and teachers closely monitor their progress to determine when best for children to move onto the next banded reading level for both their ability and year group. Children also have access to book corners filled with engaging, age-appropriate and challenging texts and, in KS2, they can track their progress through their class reading corner using a tracker sheet.
We recognise that systematic, high quality phonics teaching is essential, but additional skills and opportunities are required for children to become accomplished readers. In Year 1, the children begin to take part in whole class reading sessions with the focus of developing fluency, comprehension and phonic skills. In Year 2 we deliver whole class reading sessions based on the content domains using the VIPERS approach at least 3 times a week. In KS2, children have daily reading sessions that make links with the content domains using the VIPERS approach and whole class book talk. High quality texts and passages are chosen, appropriate to the expectations of the year group or ability of the children, and teachers use these to develop high quality vocabulary and model the application of word reading and comprehension skills.
Strong links are made between reading and writing and children read and enjoy high quality fiction and non-fiction texts, which (where possible) are linked to their lines of inquiry across the curriculum. All children read aloud daily during phonics, group/whole class reading or repeated oral reading and also throughout other subjects. In addition to this, the lowest 20% read at least once more a week with teachers, teaching assistants and reading volunteers. We complete a bi-annual reading age check and this allows us to deliver Toe-by-Toe interventions to those significantly behind their actual age. WE believe it is important for each class to have a daily reading session, usually at the end of the day, where books are often chosen together with the children to be celebrated and enjoyed.
We believe it is important for each class to have a daily story time, usually at the end of the day, where books are often chosen together with the children to be celebrated and enjoyed. Furthermore, we use ‘Buster’s Book Club’ to increase engagement with reading and this gives children set times to read, one day a week, to be inputted into the Kent Messenger portal. Classes can win trophies for various reasons and sometimes classes will win prizes for their reading. These types of initiatives help to raise the profile of reading within the school and demonstrate the importance of this skill.
Assessment is key to understanding children’s reading and we take both formative and summative assessment seriously. Children are monitored closely through daily reading by teachers to inform next steps in planning for all children and identify gaps in understanding. All classes complete ‘Headstart’ reading assessments in Terms 2, 4 and 6 to help take a snapshot of how children apply their reading skills independently and this helps teachers and leaders to further identify strengths and gaps that the children have; leading to informed planning.
As we believe that reading is key to all learning, the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the result of statutory assessments. Children have the opportunity to enter the wide and varied magical worlds that reading opens up to them. As they develop their own interest in books, a deep love of literature across a range of genres, cultures and styles is encouraged.
Children develop their reading accuracy and fluency as well as their knowledge and understanding of word meanings and vocabulary. Above all, children develop a love of reading, showing excitement and interest, inspiring them to be lifelong readers.
At Peninsula East Primary Academy, it is our intent to inspire all children to write by delivering an engaging and exciting curriculum. Additionally, we aim to help all children develop into articulate and imaginative communicators, who are well-equipped with the skills they need to become life-long learners. We believe that writing is an essential part of the curriculum; a subject that not only stands alone, but one that should be an integral part of all learning.
We aim to deliver writing lessons that inspire children and recognise the importance of nurturing a culture where children love to take pride in their writing and can clearly and accurately adapt their language and style for a range of contexts linked to the wide range of inquiries that they cover. We want to inspire children to be confident in the art of speaking and listening and to be able to use discussion to communicate and further their learning and writing style.
By the end of Year Six we intend our children to have developed a love of writing and to be able to express their thoughts and ideas clearly and creatively through the written word. We also intend to develop writers who can re-read, edit and improve their own writing, and enable children to be able to confidently use the essential skills of grammar, punctuation and spelling.
Across KS1 and KS2, children make strong links between their inquiries and their writing. They write for a range of purposes that deeply connect their cross-curricular learning with their developing writing skills. We teach writing through English skills lessons as well as through our inquiry lessons. Children also have access to high quality, inquiry linked texts, which inspire writing and help to provide a balance between teaching the features of specific genres and covering the technical aspects of writing.
Lesson sequences are structured to allow our children to develop the essential knowledge and skills to craft a piece of writing over time, helping them to build their writing stamina and providing sufficient time to create a quality piece of work. Effective composition involves forming, articulating and communicating ideas and then organising them coherently for a reader. This requires clarity, awareness of the audience, purpose and context and an increasingly wide knowledge of vocabulary, spelling and grammar. Through a series of writing lessons, our children are exposed to the following: using model texts to recognise key features of different types of writing; learning relevant tier 2 vocabulary linked to their writing; developing key punctuation and grammar skills to apply to their piece of writing; using speaking and listening activities to develop rich language skills; shared writing; planning and drafting; and finally editing and publishing.
In order for our pupils to become fluent, creative writers, children are encouraged to express their ideas through speaking and listening opportunities including partner talk, roleplay and hot-seating. High quality teacher modelling is a crucial component for embedding writing structures and these lively interactive learning exchanges provide all children with the tools and knowledge necessary to become successful writers across a range of genres and non-fiction text types.
Throughout the school, a range of drama techniques are explored and repeated to enhance children’s spoken language, presentation skills and to use as stimuli pre or post-writing. These allow children to practice structures that will be useful in their written work. The 6 drama techniques taught and practised are as follows:
- Freeze Frame
- Role Play
- Puppet Theatre
- Conscience Alley
- Roll on the Wall
Vocabulary is taught explicitly and words taught are tier 2 vocabulary from their reading and model texts. We encourage the children to magpie words from their own reading as well to expand their own lexicon. All classes have word walls to use for collecting and exploring vocabulary, and children make use of these in English lessons. Children also independently access their chromebooks to assist with their word choices and spellings as necessary. In addition, children explore tier 2 vocabulary in VIPER sessions (see Reading Intent, Implementation & Impact); carrying out formal presentations; taking part in class performances; and engaging in debates.
To aid children with quality structures for writing, we teach Alan Peat’s sentence types. These are taught in conjunction with vocabulary, punctuation and grammar to give children accessible sentence structures to use in their written pieces.
A rigorous and consistent spelling approach is used through the ‘Phonics International’ phonics scheme in KS1. The ‘No Nonsense Spelling’ programme is implemented in Year 2 once the ‘Phonics international’ systematic synthetic phonics programme is completed.
Correct letter formation is taught from the Foundation Stage and practised each day. Once the children are confident with printing letters, children in Year 1 are introduced to cursive handwriting, which we continue to embed in Year 2.
Children also have the opportunity to explore a range of poetry types throughout both key stages, and most types are repeated so children can solidify their understanding of poetry techniques and enhance their skills at crafting effective poems.
Grammar is taught in context in KS2 through the use of workshop style lessons that make links with a specific feature for the current text type being learned. This allows children to learn a technique and be able to apply it to the writing they are working on. Stand-alone grammar lessons are taught if required, but particularly in Summer term in Y6 in preparation for SATS.
Before writing, we ensure children are able to plan their work. We explicitly model this process through the school with the aim that by the end of KS2, children understand a range of planning formats to be able to use their agency to choose their own ways of planning writing.
Post-writing, children are encouraged to proof-read and edit their work. Edits are shown in books using purple pens to clearly show the editing process. We model and encourage ways to edit work from simple proof-reading all the way to re-writes. Teachers make it clear to children that writing has an audience and that the publishing of writing is an important aspect of the writing process. Therefore the publishing of writing is creative, including the use of Art and double page spreads to appeal to the reader and suit the range of writing purposes. Often, publishing is discussed with the children to decide the best way to publish as a class and these pieces will always be displayed to show the value of the children’s work and to celebrate their progress.
As children progress through Peninsula East Primary Academy, they will know more and remember more about the appropriate age-related knowledge linked to the English curriculum and the skills which equip them to progress from their individual starting points.
The children are engaged and thoughtful in lessons, producing high-quality writing, which incorporates ambitious vocabulary and literary devices. Their written outcomes express their ideas and learning across the curriculum and highlight their understanding of the PYP curriculum, the books that we read and their own unique styles. Through their time at our school, their communication skills are strengthened and children make progress. Although it is incredibly important that children meet age-related expectations, children also understand that writing is a tool for communication that will help them throughout their lives and help them to engage with the world around them.