Strong early literacy skills give children the essential foundation for future educational success, improve self-esteem and maximise life chances.
Teaching children to read and write confidently, independently and with perseverance, and to communicate effectively, is one of the core purposes of our school. At New Milton Infant School, we aim to deliver high quality teaching and learning opportunities within an ambitious and inclusive curriculum. This will enable children of all backgrounds and abilities, including those with SEND, the more able, and those with English as an additional language to make best possible progress and aspire to achieve their dreams. Our staff work tirelessly to ensure that all pupils learn to read widely, fluently and with good understanding, in order that they can then ‘read to learn’.
In addition, we strive to instil a love of reading that will remain with children for life, enhance their imaginations and broaden their horizons. We recognise that reading for enjoyment is one of the key indicators of academic success for those of all backgrounds and that it helps support good emotional health and well-being. Because we believe teaching every child to read is so important, we have a Reading Leader (Jo Clark, Deputy Head and Literacy Lead) who drives the early reading programme in our school. She is responsible for monitoring and supporting the staff so that everyone teaches with rigour and fidelity to the Little Wandle phonics programme which we use.
We model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum.
We want children to perceive themselves as ‘writers’ and to be able to write clearly, accurately and coherently for a range of purposes and audiences. Children are taught the skills required at each stage of their writing development and are given engaging and stimulating contexts to help them learn to write in different forms. Our writing journeys are based upon high quality texts to engage and enthuse the children and reinforce the link between reading and writing.
Developing clear and confident spoken communication is a key priority at our school. We want our pupils to both ‘Learn to Talk’ and ‘Talk to Learn’. We aim to enrich the vocabulary of all our pupils, help them to articulate questions, explain themselves clearly and discuss their learning with others in order to enhance understanding. Oracy has integral place within our whole curriculum.
At New Milton Infant School, we follow the National Curriculum Programmes of Study and the Early Years Framework ‘Development Matters’, to teach literacy skills.
Daily Phonics Lessons in Reception and Year 1
We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term.
We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations
Programme Overview_Reception and Year 1.indd (littlewandlelettersandsounds.org.uk). This ensures that children build upon their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through the school.
Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read
Any child who needs additional practice has daily Keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics screening check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Keep-up resources – at pace.
If children are failing to make expected progress in their literacy lessons, we attempt to swiftly address this, through adaptions to teaching or additional interventions. The impact of these is regularly evaluated to ensure effectiveness. Teachers use ongoing formative and summative assessment to identify areas of need and select effective strategies and activities to address these. These may include pre-teaching, Precision Teaching and overlearning. Tasks may be adapted or scaffolded to make them accessible for the learner whilst ensuring depth and rigour.
In Year R, children are encouraged to experiment with writing within their ‘Let’s Learn’ continuous provision writing for a range of different purposes and audiences. They are taught the skills to help them do this effectively within phonics lessons and also teacher led Literacy learning.
In Key Stage 1, children are taught to compose their own ideas for writing by orally rehearsing their sentences, recording and then re-reading to check their work makes sense. We use the phrase ‘think it, say it, write it, like it’ to encourage this process. Resources such as ‘Talking Tins’ can be used to aid children who require support in getting their ideas onto paper. Talk 4 Writing and Story Making are a key part of our literacy planning to help embed narrative structure and support the writing process.
Printed handwriting is taught in the EYFS and all text available for children to read will be shown in handwritten or typed print. In Year 1, children will be taught how to join digraphs and when ready they will be taught to move to a fully joined handwriting script.
Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week
We teach children to read through whole class reading and three discrete reading practice sessions a week. These:
are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children
use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids.
are monitored by the class teacher, who rotates and works with each group on a regular basis.
Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:
prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.
In Reception these sessions will start in week 4 of Autumn term. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books.
In Year 2, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books. Once they are confidently using phonics and reading with accuracy and fluency we move to our ‘Blended Reading’ approach with children reading the same text for five sessions per week, twice with an adult and three independent sessions.
The decodable reading practice book is made available to be read at home to ensure success is shared with the family.
An additional decodable book (matched to child’s level but not the focus book in the Practise sessions) is also taken home to allow additional extra reading practise.
Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to children. We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised parents’ resources to engage our families and share information about phonics, the benefits of sharing books, how children learn to blend and other aspects of our provision, both online and through workshops.
It is an expectation that our children enjoy a quality text read aloud to them daily. Texts read aloud are chosen with care and will include a range of genres, including ambitious vocabulary and will be written by, and include characters, that reflect the diversity of our community. Our Library Bus instils an ethos of reading for pleasure and ensures that children have access to a wide range of different texts to read at home. In addition, we invite authors or poets and a storyteller to school annually to help inspire children’s passion for literacy.
We run highly successful Bedtime Story events (Winter Warmers or Spring Time Snuggles) every year to help parents recognise the multiple benefits of reading at home with their child. We promote the use of Standard English and clear communication skills through teacher modelling, use of talk partners and drama. Poetry recitals take place to develop recitation skills and we aim to enrich the children’s vocabulary through our ‘Words of the Week’ initiative. We are part of the Voice 21 Oracy initiative and have an Oracy Lead (Jo Clark) and Oracy Champion (Kathy Johnson) who are promoting and disseminating training throughout the school.
Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.
Assessment for learning is used:
daily within class to identify children needing Keep-up support
weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.
Summative assessment is used:
every six weeks to assess progress, to identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed, to identify any children needing additional support and to plan the Keep-up support that they need.
by SLT and scrutinised through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker, to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.
with any child new to the school to quickly identify any gaps in their phonic knowledge and plan provide appropriate extra teaching.
Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics screening check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.
Children in Year 2 are formally assessed at the end of Key Stage 1 in Reading and Writing using Standard Attainment Tests which help inform Teacher Assessments in these areas.
Ongoing assessment for catch-up
Children in Year 2 are assessed through:
their teacher’s ongoing formative assessment
the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds placement assessment
the appropriate half-termly assessments.
Lesson observations, pupil surveys, data from our library bus and discussions with pupils demonstrate that our children love reading and can discuss their reading preferences. All children make the best possible progress from the starting points in reading and writing through an inclusive curriculum that provides challenge and engagement for all. By the end of Key Stage 1 our attainment data in Reading and Writing consistently exceeds national figures and is in line or exceeding County data. Our focus upon vocabulary acquisition means that the vast majority of pupils are able to write both accurately and creatively by the end of the Key Stage.
Through high quality leaching and learning in literacy, phonics and reading and a focus upon literacy skills across the whole curriculum our pupils will be well prepared for the next stage of their education and future life.