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Phonics and Reading at Benhall

At Benhall Infant School we believe that for all our children to become fluent readers and writers, phonics must be taught through a systematic and structured phonics programme.

We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised to plan and provide daily engaging phonics lessons. In phonics, we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent a different sound, that these can be used in a variety of combinations and are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise all of the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing. Our phonics teaching starts in Pre School and follows a very specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies as they move through school. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover. At Benhall, we also model these strategies in shared reading and writing both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on the development of language skills for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.

How we teach phonics
  • In Pre-School, children follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised ‘Foundations for Phonics’ guidance. The focus is on daily oral blending and language development through high quality stories and rhymes.
  • In reception and Y1, children follow the progression within Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. Phonics is taught daily and there is a review session on a Friday.
  • Phonics starts in reception in week 2 to ensure the children make a strong start.
  • By the end of reception, children will have been taught up to the end of phase 4.
  • By the end of year 1, children will have been taught up to the end of phase 5.
  • Reception lessons start at 10 minutes, with daily additional oral blending – increasing to 30 minutes as soon as possible.
  • Y1 lessons are 30 minutes long.
  • In Y2, phonic lessons are taught daily to children where appropriate – following the model of Little Wandle but plugging specific gaps identified through assessment.
  • In Y2 there are planned phonic ‘catch-up’ sessions following a set model to address specific reading/writing gaps. These are short, sharp sessions lasting 10 minutes in length and taking place at least three times a week.
Reading practice sessions
  • Children across reception, year 1, year 2 apply their phonics knowledge by using a full matched decodable reader in a small group reading practice session.
  • These sessions are 15 minutes long and happen three times a week. There are approximately 6 children in a group.
  • The sessions follow the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised.
  • The children then take the same book home the following week to ensure success is shared with the family.
  • In reception these sessions start in week 4. Children who are not decoding, do a little blending lesson, following the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sound Revised.
How do we assess phonic knowledge?
  • In reception and year 1, at the end of each week there is a review session which recaps the learning. There are also whole review weeks (pre-planned and bespoke review weeks to address gaps identified by the class teacher’s ongoing formative assessment).
  • Children identified in reception and Y1 as in danger of falling behind are immediately identified and daily ‘keep up’ sessions are put in place – sessions follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
  • In reception and year 1, the children are assessed at the end of every half term using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker.
  • The children in Y1 sit the Phonics Screening Check in the summer term.
  • Children who do not pass the Phonics Screening Check in Y1, will re-sit this in Y2.
  • Children who are in Y2 and need ‘catch up’ sessions are assessed through teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as half termly summative assessments.

If you are a parent and would like more information about how to support your child with phonics at home, please follow this link to find the Reception and Year 1 overview as well as videos of the sound pronunciations, letter formation sheets and other helpful resources.

Key features of effective phonics practice

Seven features of effective phonics practice have been identified as characterising phonics teaching in highly successful schools, no matter which validated programme is being used.

These are:

• direct teaching in frequent, short bursts
• consistency of approach • secure, systematic progression in phonics learning
• maintaining pace of learning
• providing repeated practice
• application of phonics using matched decodable books
• early identification of children at risk of falling behind, linked to the provision of effective keep-up support. 

We purchased the scheme and over the course of term 2 all the staff will receive training in how to deliver the scheme effectively.  This will also be a time when we can prepare the resources ready for the launch in term 3.  In the meantime we will continue to implement phonics as we have been as we believe that the children are accessing what they need to be able to make a smooth transition to Little Wandle Letters and Sounds in January 2022.

Over the course of the next term our Reading Team will be working closely with our inclusion co-ordinator to incorporate the keep up activities into the children's reading interventions, this will be discussed with you at your child's next my plan meeting or parents evening.

Developing A Love of Reading

We know that learning to read is an important skill and that it can be challenging at times, however we will encourage your children to love books so that they want to become independent readers and will pick up a book for pleasure.  As you wander around our school you will see that books are a part of everyday life at Benhall Infant and Pre-School.  We encourage a love of reading through:

  • Offering your child books that have been carefully matched to their phonic level 
  • Offering your child access to a range of high quality "sharing books" to enjoy with you at home
  • Offering books that are relevant to your child's experiences and interests
  • Offering high quality books in our reading schemes, library and in provision
  • Offering a combination of books and e-books
  • Explaining the purpose of books and how they can be accessed for different reasons
  • Exposing children to book talk, so they become more confident in talking about what they have read or heard
  • Our tree house library, with a reading den underneath, is an inviting place to read
  • All classes share a class read 
  • Children are encouraged to suggest or vote for the class read
  • Each EYFS classroom door shows the current class read
  • Each KS1 classroom door shows the class' reading journey
  • Mini library areas around school
  • Creating a celebration of reading space in our entrance
  • Continuing to prioritise reading on our school development plan

The child’s progression as a reader

At Pre-school, I am a mini reader who is developing an awareness of the purpose of books and how I can make sense of them using the images they contain.

I am able to:

  • Tell a story using the pictures.
  • Spot rhymes in familiar stories and poems that are read to me.
  • Count or clap syllables in a word with support.
  • Recognise the initial sound in my name.
  • I can begin to orally blend sounds into words with the support of an adult
  • Begin to identify rhyme.

In reception, I am an early reader who has a desire to learn to read that drives my learning.  I want to read the books that I am exposed to and love to show off what I can do.  I understand that text has meaning, and I want to find the key to understanding the text within the books I love to share.

I am able to:

  • Develop my phonological awareness
  • Spot rhymes in familiar stories and poems.
  • Count or clap phonemes in a word.
  • Recognise words with the same initial sound.
  • Read individual graphemes by saying the sounds for them.
  • Blend sounds into words, so that I can read short words made up of known letter– sound correspondences.
  • Read CVC words containing known letter-sound correspondences.
  • Complete a rhyming string.
  • Use sound buttons to identify how many phonemes are in a word.
  • Supply words with the same initial sound.
  • Recognise all taught sounds, including some digraphs.
  • Re-read phonetically decodable books to build up my confidence in word reading, fluency and my understanding and enjoyment.
  • Blend sounds into words, so that I can read short words made up of known letter– sound correspondences.
  • Read simple sentences containing known letter-sound correspondences containing taught common exception words.
  • Recognise and use rhyme in daily conversation.
  • Use sound buttons to segment words.

In KS1, I am reader who is able to access text at my phonic level.  I can read a range of book types at this level using my knowledge of graphemes and phonemes.   I can segment and blend to decode new words.  I can read the common exception words at my phonic phase.  I can read aloud with increased fluency and for longer periods.  I am interested in reading and understanding new words.  I have the tools I need to access a wealth of information in the form of text.  Reading is my key to the world!

I am able to:

  • Read accurately by blending the sounds in words that contain the common graphemes and alternative sounds for graphemes and check the text makes sense
  • Read accurately more complex words of two or more syllables (e.g. downstream, hideaway, comfortable)
  • Read silently or quietly at a fluent pace, taking notice of punctuation and using it to keep track of longer and more complex sentences
  • Read a wider range of exception words (e.g. English Curriculum Appendix 1)
  • Read most words quickly and accurately, without overt sounding and blending, when they have been frequently encountered
  • Read words containing common suffixes (e.g. English Curriculum Appendix 1)

The child’s progression as a booklover

At Pre-school, I am a mini book lover I love to be read to.  I enjoy sharing books my parents, teachers and friends.  I can talk about my favourites stories and characters.  I use what I have heard in my play. 

  • Tell my own version of familiar stories from memory and using picture cues
  • Ask questions about stories.
  • Repeat words and phrases from familiar stories.
  • Show you my favourite books
  • Answer questions about a text that has been read to me
  • Begin use modelled vocabulary during role play for example in the Small World
  • Seek familiar texts or stories to re-read in the book area.

In reception, I am an early book lover who loves to share stories with familiar adults.  I relate my own experiences to what I read and hear.  I am beginning to show to preference for certain styles of fiction and or non-fiction.  I enjoy discussing books with others.

I am able to:

  • Ask questions about stories.
  • Repeat words and phrases from familiar stories.
  • Repeat new vocabulary in a context of a story.
  • Talkabout my favourite books with an adult, with another child, or to look at alone.
  • Answer questions about a text that has been read to me or one I have read
  • Predict what might happen next in a story.
  • Use modelled vocabulary during role play for example in the Small World
  • Seek familiar texts or stories to re-read in the book area.
  • Request favourite stories and poems for example during Vote for a story.
  • Share a favourite book with a peer, retelling the story in my own way repeating known phrases from the text in addition to reading text at my phonic level.

In KS1, am booklover who loves to read and discuss the books I have read with my family, teachers and peers.  I can choose books for the appropriate purpose, and I am showing preferences for genres and authors.  I read like a detective, always having a questioning mind.  I enjoy listening to texts that are above my word reading ability and ask questions about the new ambitious vocabulary and sentence structures this exposes me to.  

I am able to:

  • Locate key vocabulary and specific information in fiction text to find answers to simple questions
  • Locate and interpret information in non-fiction, making full use of non-fiction layout
  • Demonstrate understanding by sequencing events in books
  • Discuss and clarify the meanings of words, linking new meanings to known vocabulary
  • Show how items of information are related in non-fiction texts
  • Look through a variety of books with growing independence to predict content and story development, drawing on experience of reading similar books
  • Make inferences on the basis of what is being said and done by answering and asking questions
  • Identify and discuss the format and text layout of fiction and poetry
  • Become familiar with non-fiction books that are structured in different way
  • Begin to understand the purpose of different non-fiction texts (e.g. to tell you about…or to show you how…)
  • Identify an event or idea in a text and express how it makes the reader feel
  • Show some awareness of texts being set in different times and places

Never a school to stop there we are now working on what else we can do post Covid 19 restrictions.  Our plans include:

  • Reading buddies
  • Working with St Marks junior school to ensure transition is effective
  • Inviting more visitors into school to listen to children read
  • Continue to update our books