“To teach word reading and spelling successfully, teachers need to understand the principles underpinning the teaching of word reading (decoding) and spelling (encoding). This should include understanding how the alphabetic code of English represents the sounds (phonemes) of the language with single letters and groups of letters (graphemes)….”
DfE Reading Framework 2021
Early reading and Phonics
At The Highway Primary, we are committed to ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We teach this using Read, Write, Inc (RWI) phonics which is specifically progressive to ensure children develop into fluent readers and writers. To allow our children to develop a strong phonological awareness and effective blending and decoding skills, we have chosen to use this systematic synthetic phonics programme produced by Ruth Miskin. We ensure that there is full fidelity to this programme across the school and lessons are taught consistently so children are exposed to the same vocabulary, structure and approach. Its method of learning is centred around letter sounds and phonics, blending sounds together to read and spell words and applying these skills across the curriculum. Using Read Write Inc. the children learn to read fluently so that they can put all their energy into comprehending what they read and develop their understanding to build connections about the world around them.
Read Write Inc. Phonics is closely aligned to the National Curriculum for Key Stage 1 and throughout the reading ELG in Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). It is a validated phonic scheme and the systematic teaching of phonics has a high priority throughout the key stage. Phonics is taught consistently and routinely to all children in EYFS, Year 1 and Year 2. We begin, in Reception, by teaching the children set 1 sounds. Children can start blending sounds into words as soon as they know a small group of letters well. Once the children have been taught the first 5 sounds (m, a, s, d, t), 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 oral sounds, then progress to reading the letters and blending them together to read the word. In Read Write Inc phonics the individual sounds are called ‘speed sounds’ – because we want children to read them effortlessly. Set 1, 2 and 3 sounds can be found here and videos about the programme and how to pronounce all sounds here.
When children are taught the sounds they will learn:
- a simple picture prompt linked to the sound
- a word or short phrase to say e.g. may I play
Each sound has a list of green words linked to it, so that the children have the opportunity to sound out and blend words containing the new sound they have been taught, for example, s-p-r-ay = spray. Green words are decodable words that children can use their ‘Fred Talk’ to sound out and blend. They feature the sound that the children have been learning that day. In a phonics lesson, children cover up to 5 or 6 new green words to support their reading of a new sound. When learning Set 3 speed sounds the children will be taught alternative sounds/graphemes, e.g. ee as in tree and ea as in tea. During the phonic sessions, children read books which are closely matched to their increasing phonic knowledge. More information can be found here.
The RWI programme allows children to be grouped according to their progress in reading, irrelevant of their year group. Children usually complete the RWI programme by Year 2; some may even finish towards the end of Year 1. Children in Lower Key stage two who need extra support with decoding may also follow the programme.
Our children will:
make rapid progress from their starting point in reading and writing. Attainment in reading is measured using statutory assessments such as the end of EYFS, Key Stage 1 and 2 and following the outcomes in the Year 1 Phonics Screening check. Additionally, we track our own reading attainment through the use of RWI half termly and screening assessments plus ongoing teacher assessment. More importantly, we believe that reading is the key to unlock all learning and so the impact of our reading goes beyond the statutory assessments. We give all the children the opportunity to enter the amazing new worlds that a book opens up to them and share texts from a range of diverse cultures or genres to inspire them to question or seek out more for themselves. We want children to develop a lifelong love for reading and ultimately evolve from learning to read, to reading to learn.