Information about Reading and Talk for Writing
English is embedded across our whole school curriculum and we are passionate about ensuring the high quality of teaching and learning in speaking and listening, reading and writing.
- See our documents below for more information on our Vision for Reading and Talk for Writing.
Phonics and Reading
At Western Road Community Primary School we follow a phonics teaching approach called Sounds-Write to teach our children to read, spell and write. Sounds-Write is a recognised phonics resource by the Department for Education.
Sounds-Write is effective in teaching pupils to read, spell and write because it starts from what all children know from a very early age – the sounds of their own language. From there, it takes them in carefully sequenced, incremental steps and teaches them how each of the 44 or so sounds in the English language can be spelt.
The words used in the teaching process and the conceptual knowledge of how the alphabet code works are introduced from simple to complex, in accordance with the fundamental principles of psychological learning theory. For example, at the start, simple, mutually implied (one sound, one spelling) CVC words (consonant, vowel, consonant) only are introduced. Pupils quickly learn to read and spell words such as 'mum', 'dog', 'jam' and 'sit'. When all the single-letter sound-spelling correspondences have been introduced and established, Sounds-Write initiates the concept that the sounds '', '', '' and '' can be spelt with the two letter-spellings '', '', '' and '', respectively.
As the programme progresses, the complexity of one-syllable words is carefully increased through a variety of VCC, CVCC, CCVC, CCVCC and CCCVC words, such as, for example, 'elf', 'hand', 'swim', 'trust' and 'scrub'.
After this, pupils' understanding of the concept 'two letters - one sound' is further developed through the introduction of the most common consonant two-letter spellings: '', '' and '', in words like 'shop', 'chimp' and 'thin', for example.
Finally, two, three and four letter spellings of the vowels are introduced and pupils are taught how to read and spell polysyllabic words, starting with simpler words (such as 'bedbug') and gradually moving to the more complex (such as 'mathematical').
All of this is taught within a well-structured, incremental and coherent framework based on the knowledge - both conceptual and factual (see below) – on which the alphabet principle and thus the writing system is based and the three key skills needed to enable learners to use the principle effectively.
Our approach teaches the conceptual understanding needed to become an effective reader:
- that letters are spellings of sounds: visual language is a representation of spoken language
- that a spelling can contain one, two, three, or four letters - examples are: s a t, f i sh, n igh t and w eigh t
- that there is more than one way of spelling most sounds: the sound 'ae', spelt as in 'name', can be represented as in 'table', in 'rain', in 'eight', in 'play', and so on
- that many spellings can represent more than one sound: can be the sound 'e' in 'head', 'a-e' in 'break', or 'ee' in 'seat'
Within this conceptual framework, we teach the factual knowledge required to become an effective reader and speller: the approximately 176 spellings that represent the 44 or so sounds in English, starting with the most simple one-to-one correspondences.
Reading and spelling also requires expertise in the skills necessary to make use of the alphabet code and pupils need to be able to:
- segment, or separate sounds in words
- blend, or push sounds together to form words
- manipulate sounds: take sounds out and put sounds into words
Sounds-Write provides opportunities for practising these skills on an everyday basis until pupils achieve the automaticity required for fluent reading and spelling.
If you would like to learn more about our approach to phonics, please register for the online course, free for everyone! (see link below)
Ideas for helping at home with phonics and reading
Be a role model. Read to and with your child often. Let them see you reading too! Talk about what you are reading. Join a library. Draw attention to print wherever you are/wherever you go.
There is a well-established link between reading and being able to hear rhythm and rhyme.
Sing nursery rhymes, action rhymes, jingles and favourite songs from TV programmes.
Make up silly rhymes: I like rice, it’s very nice. I like jelly, in my welly. I like cheese on my knees.
Make up alliterative names for everyone... hairy Harry, thirsty Theo, lovely Lottie, moaning mum!
Keep a CD in the car for singing along to or listening to audio stories.
Keep a Listening Diary and note down all the sounds you hear over a weekend. Which sounds did you hear again and again and which only once?
Have a box of instruments and noisy things to rattle, shake and beat.
Encourage children to add sound effects to stories with their voices eg zoooom, pop, bang, sssss. This really helps to make them aware of all the different contrasting sounds they can make with their mouths.
Play I spy to get them interested in the sounds at the start of words. Do this out shopping, in the car or walking to school. You can also play “I spy something that rhymes with...”
Play spot the odd one out.... eg cat, cuddles, elephant, cobweb.
Play “my mum went to the shops and bought… a sandwich, a sock, a Satsuma, a sausage roll..” to help develop the memory.
Make a sound collection scrapbook – write every letter of alphabet in scrapbook. Then stick in photos of people you know, TV characters, favourite food labels e.g. 'R' for Ready Break.
Buy some magnetic letters for the fridge and foam letters for the bath. Make words using the letters your child is learning and help them to sound them out and read them.
Play letter skittles – attach letters to some plastic bottles. Roll a ball. Think of a word beginning with the sound of the letter you’ve knocked over.
Use playdough or pipe-cleaners to make letter shapes. Get your child to close his/her eyes – can s/he guess the letter.
Write a grapheme on your child’s back – can they guess the sound it makes? Can they write a letter that they are learning on your back for you to guess?
(A grapheme is a letter that represents a sound.)
Create interest in words and sounds wherever you go and most of all – have fun!
If you have any queries, please do come and speak to your child's class teacher.