Reading and Phonics are very closely linked. At St. John Fisher, we teach reading through a systematic synthetic phonics scheme called Read Write Inc. The programme begins in Reception classes and is delivered through to Year 2. Each child is assessed regularly and work in Read Write Inc. groups which are levelled for reading ability.
‘Synthetic phonics’ is synthesising (blending) in reading. Children are taught GPCs (grapheme-phoneme correspondences) to work words out.
For reading, children are taught to look at the letters from the left to right, convert them into sounds and blend (synthesise) the sounds to work out the spoken forms of the words. For example, if children see the word sat, they need to know what sound to say for each grapheme (/s/ – /a/ – /t/) and then to be able to blend those sounds together into a recognisable word. When words have been read this way often enough, they become known and can then be read without sounding out and blending.
For spelling, children are taught to segment spoken words into sounds and write down graphemes for those sounds. If children want to write sat, then they need to be able to split it into the sounds /s/ – /a/ – /t/ and write the appropriate letters.
These are programmes providing a systematic, orderly, teaching framework through which teachers support children in developing the phonic knowledge and skills and in securing the word recognition skills to support them as fluent readers. Read Write Inc. is such a programme delivered here at St. John Fisher.
For a small number of children, there is difficulty in approaching reading in this way. They require an approach which includes synthetic phonics plus a range of other strategies to tackle new and unfamiliar words. For such children in Year One, Reading Recovery is delivered. This is a 1:1 reading intervention where a child works with our Reading Recovery teacher every day for half an hour. Now in its second year, the programme has proved to accelerate reading progress.
Other children who may need extra support in reading, participate in a reading intervention delivered by Teaching Assistants called BRP. (Boosting Reading at Primary.) This takes place three times a week for 15 minutes per session.