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. 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 skills through a variety of activities and writing opportunities. By focussing on specific 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.
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 and Y1, we follow the recommendation that children should focus on reading fully decodable texts. In line with our ‘Letters and Sounds’ phonics programme, children have the opportunity to still benefit from grouped reading sessions using texts from our book band collection.
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.
In addition to daily English lessons, children also make progress in early reading through the use of daily, discreet phonics sessions. At Westfield, we use ‘Letters and Sounds’ as the basis of our planning, making use of other additional resources to aid our teaching.
These sessions last twenty minutes and are taught in four parts:
- Revisit/review: previous learning from the day before.
- Teach: new phoneme-grapheme correspondences; skills of blending and segmenting; tricky words.
- Practise: new phoneme/grapheme correspondences; skills of blending and segmenting.
- Apply: new knowledge and skills while reading/writing.
We teach phonics in phases with children beginning their phonics journey in EYFS using Phase Two as a starting point. Children are split into focussed groups in order to deliver targeted teaching and learning. Regular team meetings ensure that all staff communicate effectively about pupil progress and as such, groupings are fluid and changed on a regular basis. By the end of Year One, children are expected to have completed the first five phases and this is assessed in June through the ‘Phonics Screening Check’.
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, book band text 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.
At Westfield, the children follow the Oxford Reading Scheme through coloured bands until they become free readers. One of the most imported elements in supporting a child’s reading ability is regular home reading and this is one of the ways in which you can best support your child during their journey with us in school. Every child is provided with a home-school reading diary and any reading that you complete with your children should be recorded in this. Class teachers and TAs regularly check these diaries and also record any reading completed in school in them.
When learning to read fluently, the children are asked questions about their books. This looks slightly different across school.
- The children in EYFS are asked prediction and simple retrieval questions around the books they are using to learn to read.
- In Key Stage One, the children are introduced to group guided reading sessions, during which they work alongside an adult to answer a variety of questions about what has been read whilst still focussing on the fluency element of reading.
- In Key Stage Two, the children have whole-class guided reading sessions, during which they are exposed to rich text and they answer questions based on what they have read. They also benefit from grouped sessions too, where questioning can be carefully planned to support differing ability levels.
Phonics games and resources
Articulation of phonemes
DFE Information for parents