At Neville’s Cross Primary School and Nursery, we recognise the importance of phonological decoding as the key strategy to develop early reading skills. Alongside a rich reading curriculum, our effective phonics teaching ensures that our children can apply efficient decoding skills to tackle unfamiliar texts in tandem with developing a love of reading.
At Neville’s Cross Primary School and Nursery Primary School we follow a validated phonics scheme; Essential Letters and Sounds (ELS).
The programme provides a simple, consistent approach to phonics, provided through easy-to-use interactive whiteboard eBook lessons. ELS keeps routines simple to reduce cognitive load and maximise the chances of success. ELS follows the original Letters and Sounds progression for the order in which Grapheme Phoneme Correspondences (GPCs) are taught. All staff in school have completed extensive training on ELS delivered by the Knowledge Schools Trust and regularly receive refresher training.
Every child in Reception and Year 1 takes part in a daily phonics session where new GPCs are taught and they practise segmenting and blending skills. The programme takes a multi-sensory approach and builds in a range of visual and auditory strategies to help pupils learn what the letters (graphemes) look like and the sound (phonemes) they represent. Mnemonics and ditties help support children’s recall of the GPCs and letter formation for handwriting. As such, the scheme allows for a consistent approach to the teaching of phonics across the whole school.
The ELS programme is a whole-class phonics scheme with the core principle of ‘Keep Up not Catch Up’ at the heart of this. As such, rapid intervention is implemented within lessons and through additional phonic interventions throughout the day to meet the needs of individual children.
The Essential Letters and Sounds programme is separated into Phases beginning with Phase 1 in Nursery with the expectation that all children will be secure with Phase 5 by the end of Year 1. Please follow this link to see the overview of the phonic phases.
For a detailed progression document of our phonic learning term by term, please see below:
It is important that pupils articulate the phonemes (phonic sounds) correctly. If you are unsure of how to pronounce the phonic sounds correctly, the video links below offer support with this:
Supporting your child with reading at home
Reading at home is an essential part of learning to read and we recognise the crucial role that parents and carers play.
Reception and Year 1:
At Neville’s Cross Primary and Nursery School, we ensure that our home reading books are closely matched to children’s developing phonic knowledge. Each Friday, your child will bring home two books to read at home, one of which will directly match the phonics teaching they have had in school that week. In addition, children will also bring home a practice text to revisit previously taught GPCs. It is essential that children re-read their books to develop their fluency. We ask that each book is re-read four times to help your child develop their sight vocabulary and embed their blending skills. This article Why-re-reading-story-books-matters explains the benefits of re-reading a text. Your child may also bring home a reading for pleasure book from our school library to share with an adult. Books are changed once per week. Children are encouraged to read at home and rewarded through incentives developed within each class.
Year 2 onwards
For the vast majority of children, they will be secure within Phase 5 Phonics by the end of the Summer term in Year 1. Once children are secure with their application of the phonics content and are decoding effortlessly, they will move to the school’s colour banded reading scheme. The scheme will be used in school for Guided Reading and for children’s home reading. Teachers will assess the children regularly and children will progress through the scheme according to both their word reading skills and their comprehension.
As children progress through Key Stage 2 and become confident, skilled readers, they will move beyond the school’s reading scheme to become an independent ‘free reader’. They will choose age-appropriate texts from the school library or class libraries which support their comprehension skills and develop their vocabulary. Children will be encouraged to read a broad range of texts, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
For more information on how to support your child’s reading at home, please refer to this booklet, which outlines some key strategies and questions you can ask your child whilst reading together.
Our approach to teaching reading comprehension
At Neville’s Cross we use a range of strategies to teach both word reading and reading comprehension skills. In Early Years, Key Stage 1 and in Lower Key Stage 2 we use Guided Reading as a prime approach to the teaching of reading. Children read in small groups with a teacher to practise their word reading and reading comprehension skills. The texts read will link to the school’s ELS Phonics scheme and the colour banded reading scheme, which includes a variety of schemes including: Hero Academy, Project X, Alien Adventures, Story Sparks and Traditional Tales.
As the children move through Key Stage 2, we move to a whole-class reading skills approach where a class text will be read and comprehension skills are taught and discussed orally. The emphasis moves from word reading to developing higher level comprehension skills such as inference, analysing the effectiveness of a text and developing vocabulary. Within these sessions, our teachers model reading strategies using high quality, age-appropriate texts which are carefully selected by our staff. These are read to or with the children and provide an opportunity to teach children specific reading skills to widen their vocabulary and develop their levels of comprehension, as outlined in the National Curriculum. Questions are planned by teachers in advance to help children develop a greater understanding of a range of reading materials including fiction, non-fiction and poetry materials.
Please refer to our reading progression document below which outlines the progressive of skills in the following aspects of reading: word reading – phonics and decoding; fluency; range of texts and genres and progression in comprehension, linked to VIPERS.
In our reading lessons, we use reading VIPERS (based on materials from ‘The Literacy Shed’) to help support our pupils to understand what a good reader looks like and how to approach answering reading questions covering the different reading content domains as outlined in the National Curriculum.
VIPERS is an acronym which stands for:
V – Vocabulary
I – Inference
P – Predict
E – Explain
R – Retrieve
S – Sequence (KS1) Summarise (KS2)
This covers the key comprehension skills in line with the content domains from the National Curriculum (2014). Reading skills lessons may focus on one or more specific question types or be more general as appropriate to the needs of the children. The mnemonic VIPERS is used to ensure children understand the purpose of questions when reading.
For more information and example question types linked to VIPERs, please see the documents below:
Reading for Pleasure
At Neville’s Cross Primary School and Nursery, we encourage a reading for pleasure ethos through daily reading sessions, class story time, outdoor reading, reading challenges, author visits and reading events, such as World Book Day. Children also have independent access to a wide variety of high-quality texts in their classroom reading areas. It is these enriching opportunities and our ethos where reading is prioritised and valued that we believe give our children the necessary skills to become thoughtful and confident readers for life.
Our staff nurture a love of books by introducing books with enthusiasm and enjoyment, promoting a sense of wonder and expectation as the book is explored. Our staff use high quality texts in all aspects of their teaching across the curriculum and provide opportunities that extend and enrich the children’s learning in their class. When we read for pleasure, our children can choose the books they wish to read and enjoy. They can choose to share a book with a peer, choose to read topic books related to our wider curriculum or listen to an adult reading aloud to them.
Additionally every day our children end their school day by sharing a story in their classrooms; class teachers read a class novel aloud to the children to further promote a love for reading into every school day.
Reading Bucket Lists
We believe in encouraging children to read a wide range of texts and actively encourage our pupils to try new genres and authors regularly. As such, we have developed ‘Reading Bucket Lists’ of 100 recommended reads for different age phases across school. We would love to hear about the books you are reading at home and would recommend in school. Happy reading!
For Phonics games please see: http://www.phonicsplay.co.uk/ Please ask your child’s class teacher to match the activities to the GPCs that have been covered.