At Toll Bar Primary School, children receive a daily phonics lesson. This is for all children from F1 to Y1 – it will continue into Y2 and Y3 in the form of phonics and spelling depending on the need of the child. The children are taught in their class for phonics with children receiving a balance of lessons in the form of games, practical experience of word building and blending sounds and applying this knowledge to written activities.
Pupils begin by learning how to discriminate different sounds, learn how to make rhyme strings (eg bat, cat, sat, mat etc) and develop alliterative sentences (eg The silly smooth snake slides silently past the sleeping skunk) They then begin to learn the formation and sounds of different letters and how to form them and say them accurately in order to begin to blend to form words.
The Phonics curriculum we provide the children is based upon the DFE published Letters and Sounds document which is divided into 6 phases of learning
Children learn phonemes (single sounds a, b, c), graphemes (2 letters to make one sound ch sh th oa ir ) in a specific order and they are encouraged to apply this knowledge to their early reading. Children are also encouraged to play games based on developing memory skills which is an essential skill in the progression of reading. In order to ensure parents fully understand the way we teach phonics at Toll Bar we hold regular parents workshops for them to join in a lesson or understand why we teach reading in this way and answer any questions they may have.
Children in Year 1 are monitored by a Government screening check to assess their phonic knowledge. This takes place in June and is administered by a teacher within the school, who sits with the child on a 1:1 basis to gauge how much phonic knowledge they have. This includes being able to blend sounds to form real words and also pseudo words (alien words). Children are given a mark out of 40 for the check and this is reported to both parents and the Local Authority. If a child does not meet the expected threshold set by the Government they may be asked to resit the check the following year.
In addition to the teaching of Phonics children have a lot of other opportunities to read and develop their Early Literacy skills. This includes accessing phonic activities whilst in continuous provision both indoors and outside. It also includes reading books individually and as parts of small groups in class (guided reading).
At Toll Bar Primary School, all our early reading books are colour banded. Your child will be given a colour band to choose their home reading book from which will help to ensure that the book they select is at about the right reading level for them. Our core scheme is the Oxford Reading Tree. The majority of books within the early book bands can be decoded using phonics skills and knowledge – encourage your child to use their phonics skills to read at home.
Reading for Pleasure
At Toll Bar Primary School, we encourage pupils to develop a love of reading and to borrow books from our school collection to enjoy with their families. Our staff are very happy to speak to parents who want to support their child in widening their reading habits. We have reading for pleasure sessions in every class. Each class has a dedicated reading area where pupils can read for pleasure. Staff read daily to pupils to increase their pleasure and enjoyment of reading.