At Walsall Wood School we are passionate about ensuring that our children become successful and confident readers and writers. Our children are keen to talk about books that they have read and to develop new skills to enhance their reading and writing.
Every day our children have many opportunities to read and write for different purposes. We also set aside time for our children to read for enjoyment each day and to talk about their books with their teachers.
Synthetic phonics teaches children to recognise and say the sounds in words (decoding) so that they may blend them to read the whole word. It also teaches them to hear the sounds in words so that they can spell them (segmenting).
The teaching of phonics primarily takes place in the Foundation Stage and Key Stage One. The children are taught using the Read Write Inc. scheme which provides speed sound cards, posters and wall friezes to display in the classroom as memory aides.
Initially children are taught to read 31 'Set 1′ sounds (phonemes) at speed and write the corresponding letters (graphemes). These are sounds made by the letters a – z plus th, sh, ch, ng, nk. With these sounds children are able to blend to read a wide range of words.
Following this, children progress to 12 additional sounds called digraphs (Set 2) – ay, ee, igh, ow, oo, oo, ar, or, air, ir, ou, oy; completing the programme when they know the 110 different ways there are in the English language to write the 43 total sounds.
To support the children with their reading of these sounds, there are accompanying texts written specifically to expose the children to a much wider range of words including multi-syllabics.
Children are organised into homogenous groupings for phonics so that they are taught according to their reading ability rather than their age. Teachers and teaching assistants lead phonic groups so that they are small and pupils are well supported.
In Key Stage 2 teachers build upon synthetic phonics knowledge and will refer the child back to the sound chart to help with the spelling of unknown words.
In Year 1, a Phonic Screening Check will take place in the Summer Term. This will check the child’s ability to use their phonic knowledge to read a list of 40 words which will consist of real and nonsense words (alien words).
In addition to their phonics lessons, children in Key Stage One have a weekly extended writing session with their class teacher that is dedicated to ‘real’ books. During this session children work in class groups to learn the mechanics of writing using our own sentence codes scheme. This is a formula for writing used to teach children the wide variety of sentence structures and techniques used within quality writing. A published text provides a focus for this work and the teacher uses this as a model for the children's own writing.
Every day children in Key Stage Two have an hour for English. Within this session their reading and writing is developed through a holistic approach. This means that the book that they study forms the basis of the work they undertake. Each year group has good quality focus books by well known authors including Roald Dahl, Michael Morpurgo, Anne Fine etc, as well as a range of poetry and non-fiction texts. Although taught in mixed ability groups, all English lessons are differentiated to meet pupil need and every class has a dedicated teaching assistant.
Children in Key Stages One and Two are taught Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar as an integral part of their English lessons but they also have a specific focus on spellings, timetabled as an additional session twice a week. During these sessions, children are taught about spelling rules and learn strategies to support them to remember these. In addition to this they have an opportunity to learn and practice common exception words and other important words through our 'Word of the Day' daily activity.
Three times per week children in Key Stage Two take part in comprehension sessions. They read and study a fiction or non-fiction text and develop their comprehension skills as a class or in groups with the guidance of their teacher. Comprehension skills are also developed through timetabled story times in both Key Stage One and Two and interwoven throughout the Early Years Curriculum.
Pupils in Key Stage Two also access the Accelerated Reader programme to support their independent reading. Pupils can choose from a wide range of books within their reading ability set by the programme and undertake quizzes to see how well they have understood the books. Reading takes place daily in class and this is followed up at home. Twenty minutes per day is the expected minimum reading time to ensure that pupils can progress well and this is what we aim for. Parents can log-in to follow the progress of their child and support them at home.