At Bywell Junior School we believe that reading is the key that unlocks the curriculum so the ability to competently decode, using phonics, is crucial. We are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers. We also value and encourage the pupils to read for enjoyment and recognise that this starts with the foundations of acquiring letter sounds, segmenting and blending skills. We strive to teach children to read effectively and to allow our children to develop a strong phonic awareness and effective blending and decoding skills, we have chosen to use a synthetic phonics programme called Read, Write, Inc. produced by Ruth Miskin.
Through daily, systematic and consistent high-quality phonics teaching, children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read words. Using Read Write Inc. the children learn to read fluently so that they can put all their energy into comprehending what they read. We passionately believe that teaching children to read and write independently is one of the core purposes of a primary school enabling them to access a broad and exciting curriculum and ensuring they flourish as learners throughout their time at our school. These fundamental skills not only hold the keys to the rest of the curriculum but also have a huge impact on children’s self-esteem and future life chances.
We endeavour to create an inclusive, inspired and challenging curriculum, which develops children’s knowledge of phonics, enabling them to become successful readers who develop a life-long love of reading.
At Bywell Junior School, we use a synthetic phonics programme called ‘Read Write Inc.’ produced by Ruth Miskin. Our staff teach children the relationship between sounds and the written spelling patterns, or graphemes, which represent them. All children Years 3, 4, 5 and 6 where necessary, have phonics sessions three times a week. According to the DfE (Department for Education), ‘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.
Each phonics lesson includes the following elements:
- Revise – overlearn the previous graphemes and words
- Teach – introduce a new grapheme/words
- Practise – develop GPCs (grapheme phoneme correspondences)/read and spell new words
- Apply – use new graphemes/words in games and activities to secure knowledge
- Assess – monitor progress within each phase to inform planning.
Our Read Write Inc. book bag books, that the children take home, link to the books shared in Phonics interventions as they focus on the same sounds covered in Phonics sessions. This ensures continuity between school and home in the learning of phonic sounds. All pupils have a home-reading record which they are encouraged to take home. Parents and carers are asked to add comments to the home reading records to indicate how much pupils have read.
Children are taught in small and focused groups to target their specific needs for phonics, alongside children of the same ability. These groupings are based on Read Write Inc. assessments that are carried out at the start of each school year and then continue half termly. I then collate this information and regroup children based on their current skill level allowing progression for most children but repetition and support for those that need more time on a specific set of sounds. This approach allows lessons to be focused and specific to the needs of the children.
Whole School RWI phonics training took place on 31st October. This increased staff confidence with delivering phonics interventions in this format.
As part of my subject leadership development, I attended an Early Reading showcase at Jerry Clay Academy. It was a free showcase which demonstrated elements of best practice in the teaching of early literacy. The half day workshop gave myself and my colleague the opportunity to share best practice in the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics whilst promoting a love of reading. I was able to attend a learning walk to see best practice in the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics. I signed up our school for an audit from Jerry Clay academy to receive funding for up to £6000.
Following our audit with Jerry Clay, and following our review meeting, they made the decision to fund our school with £3500 towards buying the items specified on our resource form. We were funded this under their umbrella Accelerator funding to support our early reading journey. I have also been invited to attend their medium level support which takes place once every half term and is led by Joanne Frost and ‘special guests’ throughout the year. The meetings are an opportunity to learn from a variety of experts and network with other reading leaders.
Currently we measure the effectiveness and impact of our Phonics Curriculum in a variety of ways:
- Summative assessment – All pupils are assessed every 6-7 weeks, or more frequently for those making speedier progress, using RWI Assessment materials. These assess a pupil’s sound to grapheme correspondence, ability to apply phonic knowledge to decode regular words and to read common exception words. Pupils’ reading fluency is also evaluated.
- Formative assessment – Daily formative assessment opportunities are built into every RWI lesson. These opportunities provide our reading teachers with knowledge of which children are making slow, steady or speedy progress allowing them and myself to quickly intervene and support a pupil to ‘catch-up’ or to change group depending on what is the best option for the pupil.
We purchased the blended training package from Read Write Inc. which combines face-to-face training and in-school support with comprehensive online training.
I have been working closely with Alex from Read Write Inc. As well as assessing children’s phonic progress, I have received guidance in how to lead weekly practice times and how to coach reading teachers, in lesson time, to build consistency and accountability.
I have also attended 2/4 development days so far this year. I worked alongside Alex to analyse current data from the RMT portal and decide next steps, implement daily one-to-one tuition to teach the most vulnerable children, implement weekly practice sessions and coach reading teachers, set online training pathways for individual staff, make the most of the Virtual Classroom in school and at home.
I also attended a Leadership Implementation Day and was shown the systems necessary to ensure success. I was shown how to upload data to the RMT portal and analyse it, ensure children are grouped homogeneously, organise and implement daily one-to-one tuition to teach the most vulnerable children, run weekly practice sessions and coach reading teachers and set online training pathways.
Through the Read Write Inc. programme, our children at Bywell will continue to be equipped with the skills to decode unfamiliar words using strategies that they have been taught in their daily lessons. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school. Hopefully, this leads to a love of reading and children taking pleasure in exploring the rich literary world around them with a firm phonic basis to support them.
July 2023 Update
- Children were assessed every 6 weeks and regrouped based on their phonics knowledge. Reading teachers were encouraged to inform me if there was anyone who had made remarkable progress or required further support and needed an earlier assessment. I used assessment to determine next steps clearly, including identifying children who needed immediate extra support.
- Children have been assessed carefully and reassessed frequently so they can access the programme at a point where they can make the fastest progress. Very few pupils needed to start at the beginning of it.
- Concerns were raised by Reading teachers regarding space. In addition to the classrooms, and shared areas, outdoor classrooms are now utilized for phonics and spellings. Well-organised teaching spaces allow children to focus on what they are learning. Resources for children to refer to are in a place where they can find or see them easily. Children are provided with the best chance to hear clearly and pay attention, because extraneous noise hinders their progress.
- Researchers have also found that highly decorated walls in primary schools undermine children’s ability to concentrate and absorb teachers’ instructions (Extended Reading Framework 2023) All Phonics displays are neutral and are backed using hessian to promote this.
- Ofsted reported that in some schools visited for its ‘Bold beginnings’ survey:
… developing children’s reading accuracy was hindered by the way [the schools] organised their reading books into bands. These schools mixed a range of reading schemes, bought at various times, many of which used different approaches to the teaching of reading. Inspectors found that this did not ensure that children read books at the right level of difficulty.
Children accessing phonics take a book bag books home which run alongside the phonics sessions. These are changed on a weekly basis. Children who did not read their book bag book at home, were encouraged to read in school with an adult.
- New addition to Year 5 – EAL student with very limited English – I assessed her for Phonics in her first week and since then she has been receiving 1-1 phonics intervention 4 times a week. Resources were prepared for her to take home to consolidate and retain the sounds learnt in school.
- Schools are expected to enable access to appropriate phonics instruction for pupils who have complex needs. Under the Equality Act 2010, they are required to make reasonable adjustments to enable pupils with disabilities to have full access to the curriculum and to be able to participate in it (Extended Reading Framework 2023) – Arrangements have been made for children in Years 5 and 6 with complex needs to access phonics and have received 1-1 if needed. Children in Years 3 and 4 with complex needs have also received 1-1 interventions for phonics.
- Yr 3 2023 Data
January 2023 – 37 children were accessing phonics.
March 2023 – 20 were accessing phonics.
July 2023 – 12 children will continue to access phonics in Year 4.
- Yr 4 2023 Data
January 2023 – 18 children were accessing phonics.
March 2023 – 9 were accessing phonics.
July 2023 – 6 children will continue to access phonics in Year 5 (Fresh Start).
- Yr 5 2023 Data
March 2023 – 7 children were accessing Fresh Start Modules 1-13.
July 2023 – 6 children will continue to access phonics in Year 6. They will receive 1-1 phonics and they will be assessed every 3 weeks to monitor progress.
- Yr 6 2023 Data
March 2023 – 7 children were accessing Fresh Start Phonics.
July 2023 – 4/7 children had passed phonics. High Schools were informed about the three children who had not passed phonics and this was updated in their support plans.
Next Steps for 2023/24
- Children in Years 5 and 6, will receive 1-1 phonics interventions. This will take place in the afternoons.
DfE New Extended Reading Framework highlights the importance of reading and the role phonics plays to support this:
The national curriculum is designed to make sure that all pupils are able to read and write fluently and proficiently by the time they leave year 6, so that they can make progress at secondary school. A vital element of this is the early and successful teaching of phonics, complemented throughout the school years by teaching that promotes fluency and comprehension.
Where pupils make insufficient progress, extra efforts should be made to provide them with extra practice and support from the beginning.
Catch-up teaching is vital, the guidance said, “however difficult it may be to organise sufficient time, space and staff”.
- Provide Reading teachers with ‘Phonics Dictation Writing’ training. Dictation is a vital part of a phonics session. Writing simple dictated sentences that include words taught so far gives children opportunities to practise and apply their spelling, without their having to think about what it is they want to say.
- From my learning walks, there were instances where the activities were hindering learning for some children.
A failure to make sure that all children are participating fully can hinder learning by limiting the amount of time for practice. Examples of activities seen:
- asking one child to write on the board while others only watch
- asking one child to read letters and words while others wait for their turn
- playing games that involve turn-taking
I will create a crib sheet for reading teachers to use as a guide which will include examples of activities which involve everyone.
- Parent/carers of a child who has been absent will receive a link via PING with a QR code to scan which will take them directly to a video lesson of the phonic sounds their child will have missed. I am currently liaising with Jerry clay Academy and Read Write Inc. to create this document and am aiming for it to be ready to start for this academic year.
Data September 2023
Year 3 – 27 children will access phonics
Year 4 – 12 children will continue to access phonics
Year 5 – 6 children will access Fresh Start Phonics
Year 6 – 6 children will access Fresh Start Phonics
Liaise with spellings lead regarding children who have missed the year group spellings. Discuss how these children will learn the spellings they missed when accessing Phonics.
October 2023 Review
- Children in Years 3 and 4 have now been assessed using Oxford Owl Assessment 1. They have been grouped based on their sounds knowledge.
- Phonics has been timetabled to take place 3 times a week for Years 3 and 4.
High-quality whole-class or small-group teaching is an efficient and effective way of ensuring good progress for the majority of children, ‘given the expense and impracticality of delivering instruction individually’.This should not undermine, however, the value of one-to-one or small-group support for the few pupils who need extra help to keep up and catch up (Extended Reading Framework 2023)
- Teachers have been spoken to regarding releasing ETAs during the afternoons. New staff members will receive phonics training and signed up to the Ruth Miskin Portal.
- 2 development days have been booked for Phonics lead to develop leadership skills and quality assure teaching of phonics throughout school