At Galley Hill Primary School we believe that being able to read and write are the vital skills that enable us to understand and express ourselves more effectively.
These skills open the door to learning. We passionately believe in helping children to develop not only the technical skills of reading and writing, but also in engendering a love for literature and the different genres of writing.
All of our teaching and support staff have been trained in the phonics programme ‘Sounds-Write’. Our teaching of reading and writing within the school is, therefore, based on the Sounds-Write programme. This begins very early on when children join in Reception and continues until a child is a confident and competent reader and speller. Sounds-Write is used around the world and is one of the DfE approved schemes.
The knowledge of sounds and symbols is an important starting point for understanding and using written language and we believe that a strong and consistent approach to the teaching of phonics is vital for our children to begin to access the rest of the curriculum. This is, however, used in conjunction with many other strategies to help children to begin to read and write.
At Galley Hill Primary School, we believe that the teaching of Phonics plays a key role in helping children learn to read, write and spell. We follow the Sounds~Write Phonics Scheme which is a high-quality program endorsed by the Department of Education.
Our aim is for the vast majority of children to be confident readers by the end of Key Stage 1. High quality Phonics teaching enables children to decode new words confidently and independently and leads to improved understanding.
This will result in children being able to read for pleasure, undertake research and develop their comprehension skills. Sounds~Write phonics also teaches children how to spell words which in turn helps them to become confident writers.
Decodable Readers – books for children to take home
Your children have been bringing home books from school, that we refer to as ‘decodable readers’. The books have been produced by Dandelion Launchers, Dandelion Readers and Sounds~Write Phonics Scheme, and when read daily, help to consolidate and maximise the children’s understanding of Phonics. These books are not to be compared to Oxford Reading Tree or other publishers, as they have a very different purpose - to support your child’s learning and understanding in Phonics. The books are an extremely beneficial addition to the Phonic sessions that are taught in school, they link to your child’s recent learning and will strengthen your child’s knowledge, understanding and confidence in Phonics.
How can I help my child understand Phonics?
These books will be sent home for your children to read to you daily. To help you to support your child with their understanding of sounds at home, we suggest the following schedule over four consecutive days (Monday to Thursday).
Day 1 - Monday– The first time you look at the book there will be no reading. You will look through the whole book, looking at the pictures and discussing what you can see in the pictures. Children naturally look at the pictures first and want to discuss these. This is an ideal opportunity for lots of discussion and two-way conversation between you and your child.
Begin by looking at the front cover of the book. Discuss the picture and what your child can see. Ask your child to read the title and ask your child to predict what the story may be about. Without reading any of the words on the first page, look at the picture and talk about what you can see. Who are the characters? What are they doing? Where is the story set? Ask your child if they have changed their original prediction of the story. Do not read or allow your child to read any of the words. Look at each page in the book, discussing what you can see in the picture and guessing what the story may be about.
When you have looked at and discussed all the pictures in the book, return to the front cover. Re-read the title with your child and tell them that they will read each page at a time. Now that the discussion about the pictures has taken place, your child should be able to concentrate on reading the text. Tell your child they must read all of the text on a page before any discussion – they are not allowed to stop reading half way through a sentence to talk about the picture! Reassure them that there will be plenty of ‘talk time’ after they have read the full book. When they have read the text on the first page, gently compliment their reading and turn to the next page. Your child will segment (sound out) and blend (put the sounds in the word back together) unfamiliar words. If they cannot read the word after several attempts, point to each sound and help them to blend and segment. They may want to discuss something, but discourage discussion as much as possible and remind them they can talk about the book after they have read every page of the book. Allow your child to read all pages, giving compliments throughout like “well done!”, “you are reading so well!” “keep it up!”.
After the child has read the full book, return to the title page and ask them some questions about the story. For example:
What happened in the story? Who are the characters? Did they correctly predict the story? Did they enjoy the story? Why? Why not?
Day 2 - Tuesday – Reintroduce the book to your child. Can they remember what the story was about? Have a discussion with your child, and then begin to read the book. Your child should be more confident in reading the book this time, as it is now familiar. They may not need to segment and blend as many words this time as they may remember the word from the previous reading session. Your child should read the book quicker. Allow for discussion again at the end of reading every page.
It is important to know that your child has understood what they have just read. Starting on the first page, look at text and ask your child a question about this page. What is the character doing? What is his name? Where is he going? What did he say? Do this for each page, asking the child a question about what they have read on the page. This helps your child to fully understand the story.
Discuss the target sound with your child (the book will tell you this sound on the front cover). Ask your child to turn to the first page and point to any words that contain the target sound. For example, if the target sound is ‘ee’, they may see the word like ‘tree’ or ‘sheep’, which contains this sound. Ask the child to try to find all words containing the target sound and count how many of these words are in the whole book. Make this a game – see if they can spot more words than you can!
Day 3 - Wednesday – Allow your child to read the full book to you. After they have done this, tell them that you are going to say a sentence from the book, and they will write it down. Depending on your child’s confidence, pick a sentence with around six words, but that contains a word with the target sound. Say the sentence slowly and get your child to verbally repeat it. Say it in a silly voice and your child can copy. Ask them to say the sentence in a silly voice and you copy. Say the sentence once more, counting the words on your fingers as you do. Ask your child to write the sentence, still showing the amount of words on your fingers, and then put a finger down each time they write a word, until the sentence is complete. If they have spelled a word incorrectly, highlight this word and say it very slowly, so that they can hear each sound as you say it. Choose one or two more sentences and repeat the activity.
Day 4 - Thursday – Allow your child to read the book to you. After they have done this, ask them to pick a word from the book that contains the target sound. Ask them to think of their own sentence, using their chosen word. Ask the child to say the sentence aloud a few times (in silly voices if they want to!) then count the words in the sentences, showing the number on your fingers. Ask the child to write their own sentence down (encouraging them to use a capital letter at the beginning, finger spaces throughout and a full stop at the end).
Day 5 - Friday – Please return the book to school for quarantine. We will send a new, decodable reader book home the following Monday.
Why does my child need to read a decodable reader book several times?
During the first time your child reads their book, they may need to use their phonic code knowledge to segment (sound out individual sounds) and blend (put the word back together). As your children will know the sounds that appear in the book, they will be able to decode any unfamiliar words. During the second time that your child reads the book, they will be familiar with the text and therefore should not segment and blend as many words. During the third and fourth time of reading the book, your child will be able to focus on fluency and skills, and should be able to answer questions about the book. We feel it is crucial for your child to read these books several times in order to build their fluency and reading skills.
Can we read other books from Oxford Reading Tree or other publishers?
Yes of course! We feel that children should be exposed to a range of texts, reading books and stories, therefore we will send home a couple of books from other schemes, with the idea that these books are for ‘shared reading’. The sounds in the Sounds~Write Phonics Scheme are taught in a different order to other phonic schemes, meaning that other publishers, like Oxford Reading Tree, will not match the children’s phonic knowledge. There will be words in these books that children cannot decode, as they may not have been taught the sound. We want to build confidence in reading and encourage a love for reading and reading for pleasure, therefore we ask that you use these books to share reading with your child, for example a bedtime story, so both the adult and child are reading from these books, and an adult is reading to the child.
KS2 Reading Schemes
Key Stage 2 children do not follow a reading scheme, but may chose books from the library which are colour coded to a child’s individual need. Silent reading is encouraged throughout KS2 and class silent reading takes place almost every school day. Children are expected to read from a variety of authors and genres and take responsibility for completing individual reading records.
Children are also encouraged to read at home, with the support of parents.
Throughout the school, the children are taught the skills of reading through guided reading, shared, paired, independent and group reading. This enables us to teach the higher skills more easily and impact significantly on pupil progress.