Throughout school we strive to encourage a rounded approach to reading where phonics skills are applied to increase fluency and improve comprehension. Our reading books are levelled to match the progression in phonics in order to offer children a range of fiction and non-fiction texts to challenge them at an appropriate level to ensure accelerated learning.
Our aims are that all children should use phonics as their primary strategy for decoding words in order to read and subsequently use this strong foundation and other strategies in order to develop a life-long love for reading.
For those children who have a secure knowledge of phonics and have an embedded ability to use this to support reading and writing we begin to introduce spelling strategies and patterns. The spelling patterns are introduced using a progressive structure which flows throughout school. Spelling is taught during literacy skills time and is taught through the use of pupil led and collaborative activities.
We are in the early stages of adopting Little Wandle Phonics approach. At Birdwell Primary School we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in Reception and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.
As a result, our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At Birdwell Primary we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
We value reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children leave us, they read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure. Our readers are equipped with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose
We teach phonics for 45 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term.
We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress:
Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy
Any child who needs additional practice has daily Keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics Screening Check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Keep-up resources – at pace.
We value reading for pleasure highly and work hard as a school to grow our Reading for Pleasure pedagogy. We read to children every day. We choose these books carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect our children and our local community as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures. Every classroom has an inviting book corner that encourages a love for reading. We curate these books and talk about them to entice children to read a wide range of books. In Reception, children have access to the reading corner every day in their free flow time and the books are continually refreshed.
Parents are partners in their child’s educational journey and are invited to phonics training sessions when their child joins Foundation Stage and again when they join Year 1. These sessions are used to support parents in gaining knowledge and understanding of how phonics is taught so that they have the skills to support phonics and early reading and writing at home.
At Birdwell, we endeavour to teach English with conviction, joy, skill and enthusiasm, and to feed the children with rich literature experiences at every opportunity; using the Skills and Knowledge Based Curriculum where appropriate.
We cover the three main areas of the national curriculum : Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening to ensure progressive coverage and high expectations for all.
Our teaching is based on the recommended primary English Curriculum, which has been personalised to meet the needs of our learners. However, while we acknowledge the recommendations of the English Curriculum, staff are encouraged to exercise their creative judgement and to be flexible in the teaching and learning of English through the Skills and Knowledge Based Curriculum, based on the differing needs, interests and abilities of the children
We are in the early stages of adopting a Gather, Skills, Apply approach to teaching and learning. This approach provides pupils with the opportunity to analyse elements of high quality texts, develop new or refine existing skills linked to the text type and apply this to writing. Pupils are explicitly taught the skills required to enable them to become successful and independent writers’.
The Accelerated Learning Cycle, based on the work of Alastair Smith, is applied in lessons. It stems from the idea of a supportive and challenging learning environment. The cycle has active engagement through multi-sensory learning, encourages the demonstration of understanding in a variety of ways and the consolidation of knowing.
Implementation of accelerated learning, supported by EEF metacognition research, has ensured the pace of learning is appropriate and has enabled pupils to secure rapid and sustained progress.
Formative assessment is ongoing throughout each lesson. It judges progress and enables the teacher to make flexible adaptations to their planned teaching.
Effective formative assessment, daily marking and feedback and adult interaction within lessons is firmly embedded into our approach to teaching and learning. All pupils are supported to develop, progress and move their learning forward through support, questioning and feedback. Pupils demonstrate the impact this has on improving their learning through editing and response.
The use of clear learning objectives and success criteria ensures pupils to understand their learning and become self-regulated learners who aspire to achieve to their full potential. The use of Achieve, Challenge and Aspire success criteria allows children assess their learning independently. Pupils and teachers refer to this throughout the lesson when they are assessing the progress they have made
Reading and writing is assessed by teachers through the use of HCAT trackers for their year groups to allocate a level and next steps for each pupil. We aim to produce at least 2 assessed pieces of writing per half term. Cross moderation occurs in school every term and pieces are gathered for a model portfolio. Moderation across trust and the LA support this process.
If parents would like more information regarding the curriculum we follow please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we can put you in contact with Mrs Millington and Mr Bennett, our Literacy leaders.