Roundhill Primary School

Roundhill Primary School

Listening, Learning and Achieving Together

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Phonics and Reading at Roundhill

Phonics at Roundhill

At Roundhill we teach phonics in Reception and Year 1 using the Bug Club Phonics Programme. This is a systematic synthetic phonics programme, validated by the Department for Education. Phonics is taught daily and within the daily phonic sessions, children have the opportunity to revisit previous learning, practice and apply new skills in structured, but engaging ways.


While the foundations for reading and writing are taught through the daily phonics lessons, planned opportunities throughout the curriculum extend phonics teaching and learning beyond the ‘dedicated time’. Consequently, learning is applied, reinforced and relevant connections are identified for the children across the day, within other curriculum areas, with the aim for all children to make rapid progress, so they become fluent readers as quickly as possible.


Spoken English uses 44 sounds (phonemes). These phonemes are represented by written letters (graphemes). The alphabet contains only 26 letters, but we use it to make all the graphemes that represent the phonemes of English. In other words, a phoneme can be represented by a single-letter grapheme (e.g. ‘s’) or a group of letters  (e.g. ‘th’ or ‘igh’). 


Phonics is designed to help teach children to read and spell by teaching the skills of blending and segmenting, and by developing an understanding of how this is used in reading and spelling. Simply put, blending is sounding out individual phonemes and blending the sounds together to read a whole word, while segmenting is breaking words down into their separate phonemes in order to spell.


We use a graduated approach to the teaching of phonics. From the Early years, children begin by developing an awareness of sounds through stories, rhymes and games and in Reception they quickly move on to learn the links between individual letters and their sounds.  This extends into learning phonemes which are represented by more than one letter (eg ‘sh’, ‘oi’, ‘igh’) and then onto learning alternative ways of recording phonemes (alternative graphemes) (eg ay, ai, eigh…).


Once children begin learning the links between phonemes and graphemes, they are used as quickly as possible in reading and spelling words. Children can then see the purpose of learning phonics.  For this reason, the first six graphemes taught are: ‘s’, ‘a’, ‘t’, ‘p’, ‘i’, ‘n’. These can immediately be used to make a number of words such as ‘sat’, ‘pin’, ‘pat’, ‘tap’, ‘nap’ ‘snap’.  Following this, children continue learning sounds and the letters that represent them in a carefully planned order. Our Decodable Reader books are organised into the same order, so the children can practise reading the sounds and words they are learning in lessons. 


At Roundhill we believe that sometimes phonics is best supported when taught in ability groups. This enables the teaching to be targeted more accurately so every child receives the correct amount of support and challenge to ensure they blend words to begin reading as quickly as possible.   During sessions, children may be identified to participate in daily 'keep up' sessions for extra practice when needed.


How is Phonics assessed?

Phonics is assessed continuously during phonics lessons, when your child reads, and through a half-termly assessment. This helps teachers to identify and plan for the children’s next steps to ensure they progress.


What is the Phonics Screening Check?

There is a National Phonics Screening Check in Year 1 (in June); during this, the children are asked to read 20 real words and 20 ‘alien’ words containing sounds from Phase Two to Five. This is conducted in a very child-friendly way by the class teachers. At the end of Year 1, you will be informed if your child has met the threshold score for the check. If they have not met the threshold, they will be given additional support in Year 2 to enable them to meet it; these children will be re-tested in Year 2.

Reading at Roundhill

Learning to read is one of the most important things your child will learn at our school. At Roundhill we believe that reading is a vital life skill and one that is high on our priority list. We want your child to love reading – and to want to read for pleasure. In reading we aim to develop not only fluency and comprehension but also to foster a life-long love of books and stories. At Roundhill we passionately believe that every child will be a reader.


At Roundhill Primary School, we intend:

· for every child to be a reader

· for early readers to have the skills to decode words in order to be able to read fluently

· for children to understand what they have read

· for children to respond with curiosity about what they and others have read

· for children to become enthusiastic and motivated to read for pleasure

· to develop children’s confidence in reading a wide variety of genres and text types

· to develop children’s knowledge of a wide range of authors and illustrator


We make this happen by building on excellent early phonics teaching, using a wide range of structured home/school reading books, providing opportunities for all children to read with adults in school and by having inspiring book corners and a wonderful library full of high-quality texts.


Our structured reading system consists of:

  • Phonic Readers: Phonetically Decodable Books

These books are carefully matched to your child’s secure phonic knowledge, with the aim that they can be read with 90% accuracy. This ensures children are reading with good fluency and comprehension, and decode the words by sounding out and blending.

  • Levelled Books

These books are aimed at developing and inspiring a love of reading through the shared experience of reading together. Levelled books contain sounds and tricky words that do not always match those the children are currently learning so they are not expected to be able to decode them, but can use other strategies to help them to read and understand the texts. Scheme books are used alongside phonically decodable books from Reception, these are organised into levels across the whole school, using Reading Recovery Levels (these range from simple texts to build sight vocabulary of common words to books containing more complex concepts and sentence structures for more fluent readers). The levels follow structured, progressive development of vocabulary, phonics and comprehension. Once children have consolidated their decoding and comprehension skills within the scheme, they become 'free readers', and are provided with a range of books - monitored to ensure they have an appropriate range of challenge and content. Our levelled books include texts from a range of publishers to ensure children read from a wide range of texts and genres to support their development as readers. This system allows children to have choice about what they read at an appropriate level of challenge for them.

  • Library Books

We have a wonderful library full of high-quality texts. Children can choose from a selection of books that broaden their horizons; deal with sensitive or difficult issues; offer diversity and books that are fun, exciting or just wonderful. Each year we continue to add to our selection of books to include a broader range of genres, interests and topics.


Other Texts

We provide access to a wide range of texts to enrich children’s reading experiences and to encourage reading for enjoyment.  These include children’s newspapers; books of facts (eg Guinness book of records); annuals; book banks of donated books that other children have read and enjoyed.


Reading at Home

Parents are asked to hear their child read at least 4 times a week, even when they are fluent readers. They are encouraged to record all reading experiences in the Reading Record; every 4 ‘reads’ leads to the award of a reading leaf for our school reading display; these leaves offer a chance to win a book prize through our termly draw.


How do children progress through the reading system?

To move to the next book level, children must be able to blend words and recognise high-frequency words in the book level and within their phonic phase. The child should be reading with good fluency and decode with 90-95% accuracy. They should also be able to retell the main points they have read and to answer simple retrieval questions and comprehension questions. This is based on teacher judgement and supported by ongoing assessment. 


Reading in School

Reading Lessons and Guided Reading

Children are taught in daily reading lessons as a whole class or in groups. The lessons are planned to explicitly teach the comprehension requirements of the National Curriculum using rich fiction, non-fiction, poetry and sometimes film clips for inspiration. Aspects of comprehension studied include sequencing, retrieval, vocabulary, explanation, prediction and inference.    


1:1 Reading with Adults

All children read regularly to a teacher or TA. They read their Phonic Reader book that is decodable and matched to their secure phonic knowledge or their levelled scheme book.  Some children are read with more frequently in order to support their progress.


Read Aloud Time

Children are read to on a daily basis in every class. This is for the children's enjoyment with the main aim of motivating them to read for pleasure. Additionally, it develops their knowledge and confidence to discuss a wide range of authors, illustrators, text types and genres, and enables them to sustain interest in how stories develop over time. The children engage with the story as they are encouraged to participate. In Reception, the children enjoy performing actions and joining in with repeated phrases as they listen to their favourite (and new) stories again and again. Active learning is also seen in Key Stage 1 and 2, where challenges are set during this time. These might include visualising the setting by drawing what they can imagine it looks like as the teacher reads, performing a 'freeze-frame' of an event in a chapter for a partner to guess, or recording words such as exciting adjectives that they would like to try and use in their writing. We are developing a reading list for each year group consisting of books from a range of genres and authors, that we believe the children should be exposed to during their time at Roundhill.


English lessons 

Planning is linked, inspired and supported by high quality, engaging and relevant texts. Stories form the basis for weekly continuous provision in Reception and an English teaching sequence in Key Stage 1 and 2; leading to immersion in and discussion about the text.


At Roundhill a range of events are organised to engage pupils with the joy and wonder of a wide range of text types, so they are confident, enthused and motivated to read for pleasure. Events include Book at Bedtime, Book Buddies, Coram Beanstalk Readers, Book Week and Summer Reading Challenges.


How do we assess reading?

We build a picture of a child’s reading behaviours, including their views on reading, by gathering evidence from:

  • Phonics sessions
  • Whole class and guided reading lessons
  • 1:1 reading
  • Running Record Assessments
  • Reading Comprehension Assessments


Please also see the Intent, Implementation and Impact documents, and the Reading and Phonics Progression documents below for further guidance regarding Phonics and Reading teaching at Roundhill Primary School.

Phonics and Reading Intent, Implementation and Impact statements