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Phonics Intent – what is our vision for phonics at St Teresa’s?

Staff at St Teresa’s Catholic Academy are passionate about ensuring all pupils become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We strongly believe that our synthetic phonics scheme (Read, Write, Inc (RWI)) provides the foundations of learning to ensure all pupils are fluent in reading and writing. Pupils of all abilities learn to read fluently and at speed to prepare and enable them to develop their comprehension skills, vocabulary, spelling and writing across the curriculum.

Through daily, systematic and quality teaching of phonics, pupils learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read words. The teaching of phonics is a high priority at St Teresa’s linked to our commitment to develop lifelong readers who love books.

Children who are new to English and children with additional needs are well supported within our phonic provision so that they can overcome barriers and achieve well.

Implementation- how is phonics taught and why?

Our systematic teaching of phonics (and fidelity to RWI) has a high priority throughout the Early Years Foundation Stage (Reception) and Key Stage 1 at St Teresa’s Catholic Academy. Phonics is taught daily to all pupils in EYFS, Year 1 and Year 2. For those pupils new to the school, rapid assessments and interventions take place to support catch up and strong progress.

In Reception class (EYFS):

  • Pupils have a daily synthetic phonics lesson as soon as they are settled in school. These follow the Read Write Inc. scheme.
  • Pupils are encouraged to transfer the skills they learn in phonics sessions into their independent reading and writing in the continuous provision.
  • Another vital aspect in the development of essential knowledge and skills in phonics is the use of continuous provision. This means that pupils are using and developing taught skills throughout the year on a daily/weekly basis.
  • We constantly provide enhancement opportunities to engage learners and link to our topics. We encourage pupils to be independent in continuous provision in EYFS.

In all phonic groups:

  • Pupils are grouped, according to their progress in phonics.  Pupils are assessed half-termly to ensure they are in the correct group. Pupils are taught by our well trained teachers or learning support assistants.
  • Pupils are taught to: decode letter/sounds correspondences quickly and effortlessly, using their phonic knowledge and skills read ‘tricky’ (red words) on sight understand what they read aloud with fluency and expression write confidently, with a strong focus on vocabulary and grammar spell quickly and easily by segmenting the sounds in words acquire good letter formation/neat handwriting (kinetic letters).
  • In addition, pupils are taught to work effectively with a partner to explain and consolidate what they are learning. This provides the teacher with opportunities to assess learning and to pick up on difficulties, such as pupil’s poor articulation, or problems with blending or alphabetic code knowledge.
  •  Pupils are exposed to echo reading daily in RWI sessions.  This allows pupils the opportunity to develop their expression and fluency in reading. Echo reading is used throughout school as a reading for meaning strategy.
  • Staff ensure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and the ‘red words’. This is so that, early on, they experience success and gain confidence that they are readers. Alongside this, the teachers read a wide range of stories, poetry and non-fiction to pupils: they are soon able to read these texts for themselves.  For those pupils that are not quite ready for texts with a number of words, pupils are exposed to RWI Sound Blending books. These books are simple, one-word per page which help support those pupils who are beginning to blend.
  • Adults read stories to children every day where a love of reading is promoted. We have a reading for pleasure plan as part of our English curriculum.

Reading lessons – children who have completed the phonic programme, continue to have 3 reading lesson per week in addition to 5 English lessons. This focuses on all the reading National Curriculum objectives to ensure our pupils read for meaning, read to learn and become lifelong readers and lovers of books.

Please see our Reading for Pleasure Long Term Plan

We use V I P E R S to teach the different reading comprehension domains and our lessons also support pupils of all abilities to increase their reading fluency, stamina and speed.

VIPERS uses snakes (vipers) as visual images to help children understand the 6 types of comprehension skill (sometimes called domains). 

Here is an example of one of our reading criteria for Y5 and a copy of the reading record prompts you will find in the book your child brings home each day: Reading examples VIPERS

Impact – how do we know children are gaining from quality first teaching?

Because we are constantly evaluating and improving our provision, we assess pupils’ phonic  progress every half term, reading skills weekly and reading comprehension termly.

Our phonics leader supports class teachers to analyse assessments using an instant assessment and tracking program – Staff are trained to use the program as a working tool to ensure all pupils are on track with their sounds. Pupil progress is also tracked half termly using the bespoke St Teresa’s tracker which allows the Phonics Lead to ensure pupils are making rapid progress and to intervene if phonic interventions are required.

We are already seeing the impact of St Teresa’s bespoke assessment to close gaps in phonic knowledge. We are determined to make sure all pupils are ‘on track’ to achieve the expected phonic standard and later, reading expectation at the end of each academic year.

Phonics Outcomes June 2023

Phonics Outcomes June 2022