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Phonics and Reading at Benhall

At Benhall Infant School we are passionate about teaching children to read.  We currently use a combination of schemes, but we are aware of the recent evidence based research that suggests that fidelity to one scheme is more effective when teaching phonics as it prevents cognitive overload and ensures that the children access a consistent approach throughout their reading journey.

The Department for Education are currently operating a validation period for scheme providers.  This runs until the end of February 2022.   Our English Lead, Mrs Pain, has been working through each scheme as and when it became validated to ensure that we pick the one that will provide the best phonics teaching within the pedagogy that we strongly believe supports children developing phonic knowledge to become independent readers.  

At the end of term 1 2021 we discovered Little Wandle Letters and Sounds which had many of the elements we were looking for and some that we hadn't considered but believe will have an impact for our children.  

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 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 classroom door shows the class book

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
  • Mini library areas around school
  • Creating a celebration of reading space in our entrance
  • Continuing to prioritise reading on our school development plan
  • Inviting more visitors into school to listen to children read
  • Continue to update our books