At St Columba’s we understand that phonics is a child’s first step on the path to becoming a confident and motivated pupil in their life long path of learning. Reading and writing are key in all subjects to achieve a great depth of understanding. That’s why at St Columba’s phonics is at the heart of our early years teaching from the very first steps they take in our school.
Through the teaching of phonics following a first class, systematic, Government approved, phonics programme, the children are taught the essential skills needed for reading and writing. At St Columba’s we have fidelity to the Little Wandlers Program. All classes follow this program from the very start of teaching phonics at the school. This starts as soon as the children enter our school at the age of 2 in our Eden room. Children are exposed to a communication rich environment which encouragers listening skills, sound development, rhyme and movement. In Nursery children are taught phase 1 phonics explicitly and discretely through high quality provision and practitioner interaction. From Reception to year 2 children are taught daily phonics lessons. Each phonics lesson includes the following elements:
Staff systematically teach learners the relationship between sounds and the written spelling patterns, or graphemes, which represent them. In Reception, phonics is taught through daily whole class teaching input and small group activities building up to an hour of phonics activities a day. This hour is made up of the whole class phonics and literacy lessons, group writing, and individual reading. Staff ensure phonics is an integrated part of all learning in the Early Years Curriculum as children explore the Reception provision and make links across subjects and context. In Year 1 and Year 2, phonics is taught though a whole class teaching input, then differentiated activities for groups for the children to apply their learning. In year 1, children read in groups daily. All reading books are in line with each child’s phonics level, ensuring they are applying their skills, as well as becoming confident readers. For children who are working below the expected level in phonics, we run targeted intervention through Reception and KS1. Any children who do not pass the phonics screening continue to be tracked and supported through KS2. Children are assessed termly in phonics to ensure progress and rapid intervention when progress dips.
At St Columba’s we aim for children to be confident, competent readers who read for pleasure, enjoyment and to seek knowledge. They should be able to sight read the words that are appropriate for their age and be able to use their knowledge of phonics to decode unfamiliar words. Children should be able to spell the words at the phase they are learning and use their phonic knowledge to phonetically attempt to spell unfamiliar words at their expected level. Children will then be able to read and write at a level that will enrich their learning in all subjects in school and beyond.