Teaching Children to Read at Westgate
Here at Westgate Primary School we aim for all our children, including SEN and disadvantaged children, to become fluent, confident readers who are passionate about reading.
The reading programme we use is Read Write Inc. This is a structured, synthetic phonics based programme, designed to ensure all children aged 4 - 7 learn to read accurately and fluently, and is taught in over 5000 schools across the UK.
Synthetic phonics is a method of teaching where words are broken up into the smallest units of sound (phonemes). Children learn to make connections between the letters of written texts (graphemes) and the sounds of spoken language. Fred the Frog helps the children learn to read – poor Fred can only say sounds and is not able to pronounce whole words!
By connecting our British Values through the teaching of Reading, we explore issues that affect us all in our lives and this helps inform decisions that will shape our future. For example, within the reading section of Read, Write Inc., children will explore individual liberty and mutual respect, where they learn to understand that they need to take turns and listen to what their partner has to say.
As soon as children enter our Reception class they begin learning the sounds the 26 letters of the alphabet make plus some digraphs (ch, th, sh, ng and nk). Alongside this they are taught to blend the sounds together to read words. For example, the first set of sounds they learn are ‘m, a, s, t, d’ – once they know these, they learn how to blend them together to make words such as ‘mat, sad, sat’. Reading books are introduced once the children know all of these sounds and can blend them to form simple words.
During RWI children are encouraged to have a go at writing by sounding out words and recording the sounds they hear. This takes place during teacher led sessions and there are also plenty of opportunities during child-initiated sessions, with a range of materials and writing prompts available.
Reception pupils have daily phonics lessons within their classroom, up until the end of term 2 (Christmas). From the beginning of term 3 they are regularly assessed and are split into small groups to continue with their daily Read Write Inc. lessons, based upon where they are within the programme. They begin to learn more complex sounds and to recognise how groups of letters sound in words i.e. ‘igh’ as in ‘night’.
Years 1 and 2
In Years 1 and 2 children follow the same structure as Reception but continue to work on more complex sounds, building up their ability to read more and more complicated words until they complete the Read Write Inc. programme. They continue to be assessed at the end of each term and work in small groups daily. The reading books they use in daily sessions and those they take home are closely matched to their reading ability – children are never asked to read a book that contains sounds they have not already been taught.
Children are encouraged to write the sounds they hear in order to write and spell simple words using their phonic awareness.
We expect all children to have completed the programme by the end of year 2, having become fluent readers. For those children who have not completed the programme, we ensure they receive daily reading tuition until they have caught up with their peers.