English including Phonics
English at Westfield Primary School
At Westfield Primary School, we believe that a quality English curriculum should develop children’s love of reading, writing and discussion. We aim to inspire an appreciation of quality literature and a habit of reading widely and often. Children start their reading journey with us as soon as they start in Reception through our Read Write Inc. Phonics programme. We want all children to be able to read and write, with no exceptions.
We follow Pathways to Write and Pathways to Read as a way to develop vocabulary, reading and writing skills through the mastery approach. Our planning is based upon high quality texts to ensure engaging and purposeful lessons by linking learning to the wider curriculum. We pride ourselves on being a reading school – reading underpins everything we teach.
We believe that a secure basis in literacy skills is crucial to a high-quality education and will give our children the tools they need to participate fully as a member of society. As such, our lessons are aimed to teach age-related knowledge and skills through a variety of activities and writing opportunities. By focussing on specific knowledge and skills within our units of work, we are able to use focussed assessment to track pupil progress. This also means that our teaching sequence is progressive and builds upon prior learning.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the disruption to our children's learning, we have ensured that reading is a priority in our catch-up curriculum. We have worked to identify and map out the gaps in learning that our children have experienced and this has been woven into our curriculum plans. Teachers' planning is therefore informed by both an assessment of pupils' starting points and gaps, as well as an understanding of what is the most critical content for progression.
These aims are embedded across our English lessons and the wider curriculum. We have a rigorous and well-organised English curriculum that provides many opportunities for reading, writing and discussion. Our long-term plans have been mapped out to ensure that full coverage of the National Curriculum is catered for across all of our classes, taking into careful consideration the age-related expectations for each year group. Where possible, we have ensured that our focus texts complement our wider curriculum planning. As a staff, we have thus designed a personalised curriculum to engage and inspire our pupils.
Following the ‘Pathways to Write’ methodology, our teaching of writing process follows three stages:
- Gateway: hooks, enthuses and intrigues young writers whilst revisiting previously taught skills to assess against.
- Pathway: introduces three new writing skills, which pupils practise and apply through short and extended writing tasks.
- Writeaway: provides an opportunity for pupils to apply mastery skills in an extended context.
Following the ‘Pathways to Read’ methodology, in years 2 – 6, we use the following teaching sequence:
- Whole class shared reading
- Grouped reading session
- Follow on task
In EYFS, KS1 and for pupils still accessing our phonics provision, we follow the recommendation that children should focus on reading fully decodable texts. In line with our Read Write Inc. Phonics programme, We make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and the common exception words. This is so that, early on, they experience success and gain confidence that they are readers. Re-reading and discussing these books with the teacher supports their increasingly fluent decoding.
As a result, we have a community of enthusiastic readers and writers who enjoy showcasing their developing literacy knowledge and skills. They are confident to take risks in their reading and writing, and love to discuss and share their ideas. Children’s work showcases their progression of skills and how their learning in the wider curriculum compliments our units of work in English.
Our pupils learn to read and write effectively and quickly using the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme.
The Read Write Inc. Phonics programme is for:
- Pupils in Year R to Year 2 who are learning to read and write
- Any pupils in Years 2, 3 and 4 who need to catch up rapidly
- Struggling readers in Years 5 and 6 follow Read Write Inc. Fresh Start.
In Read Write Inc. Phonics pupils:
- Decode letter-sound correspondences quickly and effortlessly, using their phonic knowledge and skills
- Read common exception words on sight
- Understand what they read
- Read aloud with fluency and expression
- Write confidently, with a strong focus on vocabulary and grammar
- Spell quickly and easily by segmenting the sounds in words
- Acquire good handwriting.
In addition, we teach pupils to work effectively with a partner to explain and consolidate what they are learning. This provides the teacher with opportunities to assess learning and to pick up on difficulties, such as pupils’ poor articulation, or problems with blending or alphabetic code knowledge.
We group pupils homogeneously, according to their progress in reading rather than their writing. This is because it is known that pupils’ progress in writing will lag behind progress in reading, especially for those whose motor skills are less well developed.
In Year R we emphasise the alphabetic code. The pupils rapidly learn sounds and the letter or groups of letters they need to represent them. Simple mnemonics help them to grasp this quickly. This is especially useful for pupils at risk of making slower progress. This learning is consolidated daily. Pupils have frequent practice in reading high frequency words with irregular spellings – common exception words.
We make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and the common exception words. This is so that, early on, they experience success and gain confidence that they are readers. Re-reading and discussing these books with the teacher supports their increasingly fluent decoding.
Alongside this, the teachers read a wide range of stories, poetry and non-fiction to pupils; they are soon able to read these texts for themselves.
Our aim is for pupils to complete the phonics programme as quickly as possible. The sooner they complete it, the sooner they will be able to choose books to read at their own interest and comprehension level.
At Westfield, we have high expectations for our children in relation to reading. We are proud that reading underpins all of our teaching and so we use a range of reading practices to ensure that this is prominent in all of our lessons.
In addition to our taught reading sessions, our pupils also have the opportunity to read aloud to an adult on a 1-1 basis at least once a week. Each pupil has a reading diary, RWI book (KS1) or book band text (KS2) and a reading for pleasure book. Every time a child is heard read, we record this in their diaries.
We recognise the impact that reading at home can have on children’s progress in reading. Because of this, we ask that our families also commit to our high standards when reading at home. We ask that all pupils read at home on five occasions each week.
Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 – 10 minutes reading at home session.
Year 3 and Year 4 – 15 minutes per reading at home session.
Year 5 and Year 6 – 20 minutes per reading at home session.
We use a wide variety of quality texts and resources to motivate and inspire our children. We use the Educational Library Service in order to continually update our reading collections in every classroom. Teachers also use this resource as a way of ordering topic related materials to further enrich our wider curriculum. Children are also able to access our online resource ‘Bug Club’ both in school and at home. Through the use of this online tool, children can read and respond to texts that have been matched to their reading ability whilst accruing rewards along the way.
Phonics games and resources
Articulation of phonemes
DFE Information for parents