We believe reading is the most important skill that our children learn and provides our children with the best opportunities to be able to succeed across the curriculum. At St Gabriel’s, we aim to ensure that all children by the end of Key Stage One are equipped with the vital skills that allow them to be secure and confident decoders in an environment that is engaging, encouraging and led by teachers with expertise. We want children to enjoy reading and have strategies that allow them to effectively decode for life, enabling them to read a range of literature and support them in to access a lifetime of learning.
The school follows the guidance set out in the National Curriculum and utilise Letters and Sounds planning in order to ensure that our children are taught all of the sounds required to become confident decoders. Studies have repeatedly found that explicit systematic phonics instruction is the most effective way to teach children how to read. This teaching secures the crucial skills of word recognition that, once mastered, enable children to read fluently and automatically. Throughout Early Years and Key Stage One, phonics is taught daily, in the morning, through our systematic, synthetic phonics scheme called Letters and Sounds. This scheme is supported by Story Time Phonics resources and a fun and multi-sensory approach is employed by teachers within our lessons to ensure that the children are engaged, encouraged and develop a love of learning to read.
Dandelion Phonics Readers books are also utilised within lessons in order for children to apply their reading skills. These resources match the progression of sounds taught enabling children to embed their reading of the sounds in words and sentences. During phonics sessions, teachers revisit previously taught phonemes, high frequency words and common exception words. Children are then introduced to a new phoneme (sound), they practice reading it (using memorable actions and phrases) and are taught how to blend the sound with others to read words. Later in their session, children will also use the focus sound to segment words for spelling. Weekly homework is also provided in order to give our children the opportunity to consolidate their learning at home.
Assessment for learning strategies are employed within lessons which ensures teachers can support and challenge children to maximise progress for all. This, alongside the use of phonics books allows teachers to identify, within lessons, any children who need additional support to help them achieve the expected outcome. Robust half termly assessments, using our Phonics Tracker tool, ensures children are regularly assessed so the school can identify gaps in individuals’ understanding of phonics. Personalised interventions are then planned and implemented to ensure the gaps in our children’s learning are addressed effectively. The outcomes of assessment are analysed and next steps are discussed with teachers in order to amend planning so children’s progress is maximised. Regular monitoring of teachers ensures teaching standards are high, leading to good outcomes for children.