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Reading at St Mary's

Our approaches to teaching reading....

Reading is breathing in; writing is breathing out....

The Lower Hub (Years R to 3)

Since 2020 we have been using the Floppy's Phonics scheme to teach systematic synthetic phonics to all pupils. Please see below to find out what Phonics is all about!

This letter from Miss Bird, Mrs Benson and Mr Butterwick explains our appoach to reading in the Lower Hub. 

The Upper Hub (Years 4 to 6)

Each child in the upper hub have a reading book chosen from their class library.  This letter from Mrs Smith and Mrs Dakeyne explains our approach to reading in the Upper Hub.

Practice and Expert Reading Books

Each child has an expert reading book which they should be able to decode with 95% acuracy.  This book is then re-read to develop fluency....

What is Fluency?

We look for 4 things when we assess how fluent children are with their reading:

  1. pace
  2. tone and volume
  3. pausing and phrasing
  4. smoothness

The Department for Education has produced some reading exemplification videos that demonstrate what a child working at expected level should read like at the end of KS1 and KS2

What are inference and retrieval?

It is important to check children's comprehension and understanding of their reading as well as the acuracy of their decoding....

Phonics at St Mary's Phonics at St Mary's Phonics at St Mary's

What is phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. They are taught how to:

  1. recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes;
  2. identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make (letter groups) - such as ‘sh’ or ‘oa’; and
  3. blend these sounds together 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.

You may also wish to look here for a video explaination from Oxford Owl.

Why phonics?

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. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7.

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 which allows them to read for enjoyment. Children who have been taught phonics also tend to read more accurately than those taught using other methods such as ‘look and say’. This includes children who find learning to read difficult, for example those who have dyslexia.

Phonics screening check

The National Phonics Screening Check is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonics knowledge. It helps the school confirm whether your child has made the expected progress and helps teachers identify which children need extra help with phonic decoding.  The Phonics Screening check is for Year 1 children and it takes place in the Summer term. The check contains a mix of real words and ‘non-words’ (or ‘nonsense words’). The purpose of including nonsense words is to check that the child knows the sounds and can blend them together to read the words. They will be new to all pupils, so there won’t be a bias to those with a good vocabulary knowledge or visual memory of words. Children who have not met the standard in Year 1 will retake the check in Year 2. 

Floppy Phonics

In order to provide a consistent approach to the teaching of segmenting (writing) and blending (reading), we follow Debbie Hepplewhite’s ‘Floppy’s Phonics’ approach throughout Reception and KS1, followed by Phonics International throughout KS2. The approach to teaching and learning is the same through both programs. Please click here to see a PDF highlighting the teaching sequence we undertake in school. 

How can you help at home?

  • Parents/carers can help their children to learn the phonics code through LOTS of practice! Please view the Alphabetic code here. We may send your child home with sounds they need to revisit through grapheme tiles or say the sound posters. Please revisit and review these with your child.
  • Phonics activity sheets will be sent home throguh Tapestry or See-saw for you to re-do with your child, consolidating the learning in school.
  • Use the 'pure' sounds that are taught in school at home i.e. not adding 'uh' on the end of a sound. For example we say /m/ not /muh/.  Here is a video to help explain. Mr Thorne's phonics is a great way to engage children at home and also build up confidence and understanding of the 'pure' sounds at home.
Useful links Useful links Useful links Useful links
oxford-owl ebooks
teach your monster
bbc nursery rhymes
Mr Thorne
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