It is well established that phonics knowledge is essential in teaching children how to read and that the skill of reading itself is vital in unlocking access to a wider challenging curriculum, not just in Key Stage 2 but through to secondary school and beyond in later life. At Ark Atwood we believe that every child must be taught how to read and are determined to make this happen through delivering a robust synthetic phonics programme. We use Ruth Miskin’s Read Write Inc (RWI) programme to deliver the highest quality phonics lessons from Reception to Year 2 and even start this earlier in Nursery too. All children learn to read, write and blend together the 44 sounds (including alternative graphemes) in the English language so that they have the toolkit to decode words successfully with understanding.
What is our approach to Phonics?
In Nursery the children are introduced to phonics through teaching phonological awareness (identifying sounds in their environment and words) and begin to learn single letter sounds towards the end of the year.
We then build on this by consistently following the RWI programme through Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. The RWI programme maps out a series of steps through a range of sounds and corresponding storybooks as detailed below:
- YR learn single letter sounds (set 1) > oral blending > blend decodable words > begin to learn digraphs (set 1 and start of set 2)
- Y1 and Y2 learn diagraph, trigraph, and split diagraph sounds (set 2 and set 3) >blend decodable single syllable, multi-syllable and suffix words.
- Children learn how to read and spell with alternative graphemes of sounds using rhymes and pictures to support. (e.g. ay, a-e and ai)
- Common exception words (words that are not decodable with phonics) are taught with separate strategies looking at word patterns and rhythms.
- Fluency is practised and comprehension developed as children progress through the different book bands and get more confident with their oral fluency (from red to grey).
Assessments take place on a half termly basis and include gap analysis checks. Children are placed into homogenous groups to best support progress, phonics rooms are fully equipped with RWI resources and 1:1 tutoring is prioritised for those who need more support.
What does our approach to Phonics look like in the classroom?
- Daily timetabled phonics lessons always include a speed sound and spelling session.
- Handwriting taught using memorable phrases and familiar pictures.
- Engaging, routines based, learning for children where they can see their own progress.
- Explicitly taught vocabulary to deepen understanding of stories and enrich language.
- Fluency strategies are modelled so that children’s confidence reading a story develops.
- Evidence based and deeper thinking comprehension questions are set weekly.
- A weekly phonics book is sent home for children to share and read with their parents (this is their focus book that they have been reading in school this week).
- An additional decodable book is sent home (that hasn’t been seen before) for an additional opportunity for children to read aloud at home.
- Groups are fluid with composition changing based on ongoing observation and half termly assessments (based on sounds learnt and reading speed).
- Misconceptions are addressed through the marking policy and pinny times (regular review of sounds).
- Texts increase in difficulty as children move through the programme.
How do we measure success in Phonics?
Outcomes in the Phonics Screening Check are consistently well above the national average even with high SEN cohorts (2019). Children perform strongly in Y2 Reading assessments.
Further information can be found here RWISessionForParents_1 (2).pdf