“Our curriculum promotes social mobility;
we give our children the roots to grow and the wings to fly.”
"Do your little bit of good where you are. It's those bits of good put
together that overwhelm the world."
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Phonics at St George’s
At St George’s we believe that part of a high-quality curriculum should develop children’s enjoyment of reading, writing and discussion. These skills are taught to our children via a daily Phonics lesson which start in Nursery. In Nursery, we aim for children to gain a background knowledge of subject related vocabulary in order to best equip them for when they start their full-time education. Phonics should not only be taught through discrete lessons, but be embedded throughout the curriculum. We aim to inspire a reading culture in school where we promote a real love of reading for all our children. We want children to have the skills to decode confidently and use this as their strategy to decode text. We aim for all children throughout school to have access to a Phonics lesson at a level that is directly linked to their ability. We deliver lessons confidently by staff that have been trained in its delivery. All of our children will have access to a reading book which is matched to their phonic ability.
We have adopted a rigorous synthetic phonics programme, Read Write Inc (RWI), for children to follow at St George’s. Within this programme, children will learn to read, write and to develop their speaking and listening skills. The Phonics leader regularly assesses all children in order to ensure that they are accessing the correct RWI group that is matched to their ability. Children in the Early Years Foundation Stage, Key Stage One and Key Stage Two will access a daily Phonics session to embed their learning. In Nursery, children access a daily Phonics session where they are pre-taught specific language and sounds that they will need to know for when they start full time education. Children that access a RWI lesson will be given ample opportunity to embed their learning by reading a book that is matched to their phonetic ability. Children also have access to a reading for pleasure book that they can share with an adult at home and develop their love of reading. Children are taught to apply the knowledge learned in a Phonics session into other areas of the curriculum. Interventions take place for children in Reception, Year 1, 2 and 3 to help support them with their reading. RWI 1:1 sessions are in place for children in the bottom 20% in R- Year 3 to help support individual children catch up and close the gap to that of their peers. We recognise the need to develop children’s vocabulary and R, Year 1 and 2 are using Talk Through Stories, a RWI intervention to support with shared reading. This is a prescriptive intervention ensuring consistency in supporting children with their exposure to different stories and a variety of vocabulary. In September 2023 we opened our library. This helps us to develop children’s love of learning from the start of their school journey. Children are visiting the library to look at the variety of texts available as well as sharing stories with their friends and spending storytime in this setting.
Children at St George’s grow in confidence and develop resilience within a Phonics lesson as they are encouraged to re-read a text and ‘tick or fix’ their spellings. Our Phonics lessons are a safe space for children to make these adjustments. Children at St George’s make good progress from low starting points as a result of following this programme. We recognise this is an area which we continue to work and monitoring happens weekly along with coaching in the delivery of phonics to ensure we are consistant in the delivery. Children are able to access intervention sessions if they are identified as needing extra support or are in the lowest 20%. Phonics assessments show that daily RWI sessions are supporting children to transfer their learning into their long term memory. Staff training has ensured that St George’s staff have a confident and consistent approach to the teaching and learning within Phonics. We use the RWI Portal and staff are directed towards videos weekly on their pathways to help support them in the delivery. We have RWI Phonics development days to support leaders and staff in the delivery of phonics, assessment needs and use of interventions. Leaders keep themselves updated of any new developments and ensure resources are updated regularly so staff have all of the tools they need in their delivery of phonics.
Read Write Inc (RWI)
Here at St. George's, we teach synthetic phonics following the scheme Read Write Inc. (also known as RWI). This is a scheme developed by Ruth Miskin who is one of the UK's leading authorities on teaching children to read.
What is synthetic phonics?
Synthetic phonics is a way of teaching reading. Children are taught to read letters, or groups of letters, by saying the sound they represent. For example, the letter 'M' makes an 'mmm' sound. Synthetic phonics teaches children to synthesise the sounds together to form a word. We refer to this as blending.
Synthetic phonics teaches children:
- That words are composed of sounds (phonemes).
- How sounds are represented by letters (graphemes).
- To blend sounds in a word when reading.
- To listen for sounds when spelling.
- All of the different ways a sound can be represented, e.g. the /a/ in 'major' can also be spelled: 'ay' like in play, 'ai' like in paid, 'a' like in apron, 'eigh' like in eight and so on.
When do we start teaching RWI?
Throughout nursery, your child will be exposed to letter sounds through stories on a daily basis. When they reach the summer term, they will be taught Set 1 speed sounds.
As children progress through Reception, Year 1 and Year 2, they will have a daily phonics lesson where they will be taught speed sounds and be given an opportunity to embed their learning through spelling practise and the reading of a stage related book.
Some children will complete RWI by Year 2, from here, children are exposed to daily reading and comprehension to ensure that they have understood what they have decoded when reading. If a child has not completed RWI by Year 2, they will continue to have a daily phonics lesson in an appropriate group. Should children require further support with learning to read, the phonics lead will ensure they have appropriate intervention in place.
When teaching your child to read, we use the pure sounds for each letter, or group of letters. For an example of the pure sounds, please follow this link:
Parent video: How to say the sounds - YouTube
When your child is taught to write letters, RWI uses mnemonics to help the children remember how to form them correctly. You can find these in the documents section below.
How can I help at home?
In their book bags, your child will have a phonics book and a reading for pleasure book. The phonics book level matches the sounds that your child knows meaning that they can read this to you independently. Please encourage your child to read this at home everyday. The reading for pleasure book is a book for you to share, perhaps you could read this book to your child and enjoy the story together. For our 'ten top tips' on reading at home, please see the documents section below.