Aspects of the 2014 National Curriculum for English that are applicable to the early stages of the teaching of reading, aim to ensure that all pupils:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
At Bethersden Primary School, we strive to teach children to read effectively and quickly using our bespoke Reading Writing Excellence phonics programme (RWE) which includes teaching synthetic phonics, sight vocabulary, decoding and encoding words as well as spelling and accurate letter formation.
Using the RWE Scheme we aim to teach children from Early Years up to Year 1 to:
- apply their phonic knowledge and skills as the route to decode words
- respond speedily with the correct sound to graphemes (letters or groups of letters) for all 40+ phonemes
- read accurately by blending sounds in unfamiliar words containing the Grapheme Phoneme Correspondences (GPCs) that they have been taught
- read common exception words, noting unusual correspondences between spelling and sound
- read words containing taught GPCs and –s, –es, –ing, –ed, –er and –est endings
- read words of more than one syllable that contain taught GPCs
- read words with contractions and understand that the apostrophe represents the omitted letter(s)
- read books aloud, accurately, that are consistent with their developing phonic knowledge and that do not require them to use other strategies to work out words
- reread these books to build up their fluency and confidence in word reading
- read most words quickly and accurately, without overt sounding and blending, when they have been frequently encountered
- spell words containing each of the 40+ phonemes already taught by segmenting the sounds in words
- spell common exception words
- add prefixes and suffixes to previously taught words
- spell effortlessly so that all their focus when writing can be directed towards composition
At Bethersden Primary School, these skills are embedded within daily RWE lessons. By focussing on the teaching of skilled word reading in the Early Years and Year 1, using a synthetic phonics scheme, children learn to pronounce unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and speedily recognise familiar printed words. We want all children to enjoy and experience early success in learning to read. We are dedicated to developing children’s love of reading and to help them to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know.
These principles and features characterise our approach to the teaching of reading using RWE:
- Reading Teachers teach RWE using a detailed, proven step-by-step teaching scheme, that has been adapted to suit the specific needs of the children at Bethersden; where children are first taught simple GPCs, to accurately blend taught sounds, to decode simple words containing taught graphemes and then to read specifically designed books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and the common exception words.
- Pupils are taught within small homogenous groups, across year groups, which reflect their performance in RWE phonics assessments. We make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ability to read ‘tricky words’; so they experience early reading success and gain confidence that they are readers.
- RWE reading teachers have all of the RWE resources needed to teach RWE and they follow basic lesson plans which they adapt to suit the level, concentration and needs of all children in the group..
- Reading Teachers maintain constant discussions with the Lead Reading Teacher, to ensure their practice meets the needs of the children.
- Regular assessment ensures that pupils are taught in homogeneous groups which match their phonic knowledge and reading level. Pupils making speedy progress move groups quickly. Those pupils making steady progress continue at an appropriate pace matched to their reading level. Those pupils making slower progress are usually taught in smaller groups and generally receive additional small group or one-to-one intervention.
We assess all pupils from Reception to Year 1 using RWE Assessment materials and we use this data to assign them to their most appropriate RWE Group and to identify if they need to have any additional support. This provides a good indication of their progress relative to their starting points. We track the phonic progress that pupils make from Reception to Year 1 and, at the end of Year 1; we evaluate pupils’ acquisition of GPCs and decoding skills using the Phonics Screening Check (PSC). This ensures that we are able to maintain high standards in the teaching of the early stages reading in EYFS (using the Reading statements in the EYFS Profile), in Year 1 (using the PSC materials).
The impact of high-qualify synthetic phonics teaching, coupled with vigorous assessment procedures ensures that attainment of Bethersden pupils is in line with or well above national standards.