How we Teach English
Speaking and Listening
We put a strong emphasis on the teaching of spoken English in KS1 so that children develop the confidence in English that will help them to become good writers. Each half term children learn a story by heart and practise telling it to different people before they change parts of the story and write their own version. Teachers plan for drama activities within English lessons and each child has a talk partner with whom they discuss things and prepare questions answers when directed by the teacher.
We want our children to become keen readers who enjoy books and other texts and who confidently use their reading skills to find out information they need. There is a heavy emphasis on learning to read because good reading skills are the key to so much else.
At Atam we use synthetic phonics to teach reading supplemented by some other resources.
The children have a daily phonics session. They learn different sounds in school each week and if appropriate will practise these as home as part of their homework. Teachers use the DfE approved Phonics Bug scheme supported by Letters and Sounds resources to ensure consistent phonics teaching and learning. Planned coverage is as follows
EYFS – phase 1 (revision), phase 2, phase 3 & Phase 4
Year 1 –phases 4 (revision) & phase 5
Year 2 – phase 5 (revision) & phase 6
What is phonics?
Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. They are taught how to recognise the phonemes (unit of sound) that each individual letter makes, identify the phonemes that different combinations of letters make such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’ (diagraphs) and blend these sounds together with other phonemes from left to right to make a word. Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read
Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment.
Phonics Bug and Bug Club books can be used in school and at home to promote this phonics learning. Phonics Bug books are phonically decodable and are designed to practise the phonics skills children are learning in school. Bug Club books are for further practise and enjoyment. Special features of eBooks include a phoneme pronunciation guide, model reading, rewards and a quiz question to reinforce phonic skills.
Expectations for the End of Reception
Most children can say a phoneme (unit of sound) for at least 1 spelling of the 40+ sounds of English and find a grapheme (written representation) for most of these phonemes in addition children will learn how to form these letters correctly. Through blending phonemes children will be able to read simple words i.e tip, chop, song, shed, lost, spot, pocket, spoon and storm. Children will be expected to spell simple words by segmenting the spoken word and finally read and write the most common irregular (tricky) words i.e was I to you . We also teach the recognition and spelling of some words that can be decoded such as Mum, Dad, to build children’s confidence in reading and writing.
Expectations for the End of Year 1
Most children can say a phoneme for common graphemes and write the common graphemes for phonemes. Children read words with common correspondences by blending phonemes and also read and spell common words with unusual correspondences i.e you they one could and people. It is expected that children can choose correct grapheme alternatives for spelling some words i.e play snail cake. Finally they need to identify and read non-words for assessment i.e rin as in ‘bin’ dest as in ‘rest’ and pafe as in ‘safe’.
Children in year 1 will undertake a phonics screening test. The phonics screening check is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonics knowledge. It helps our school confirm whether your child has made the expected progress.
Fluency means the ability to read a book at a reasonable speed so that it is enjoyable and understandable. We teach reception children to recognise some high frequency words on sight using a structured programme called ‘Action Words’. These are the most frequent words in children’s early reading books and the most frequent words they want to use in their own writing.
Reading at home
From the very beginning of school children will be able to borrow books to take home. We would ask parents to read these to their children and use them to support our teaching from the ‘pre-reading checklist’ linked to below. Your child will not be able to read the first few books by themselves. Please read the books to them and put the emphasis on enjoying books.
After a few weeks of synthetic phonics teaching the children will then be given a book from our reading scheme Phonics Bug/Bug Club. These books are “banded” and include fiction and non-fiction texts to ensure the children have access to a full range of appropriately differentiated texts. There is a link below to an explanation of book bands for parents. When your child starts a book band you will receive a ‘Band targets’ Sheet to help you support our teaching at school.
We would like you to make at least four comments in your child’s reading journal each week. Children get certificates and other rewards for completed reading logs. Children can access Bug club and Phonics Bug books using the internet at home and you can make comments about these in your child’s reading log, not just about printed books.