Reading and Phonics


A Love for Reading

At Boarshaw Primary School, we want children to choose to read and enjoy it both in and out of school. We use book banded (coloured levels) books from Rising Stars Reading Planet to ensure structure and progression of skills, but we also want children to read a range of books beyond these. Accelerated Reader is used to ensure pupils are reading at levels appropriate to them and developing their comprehension skills at the end of each book. Reading for both pleasure and purpose is important and we encourage you to help your children to continuously increase the range and types of books that they choose. Sometimes, in trying different genres (styles) of books, we can discover styles that we were not expecting to enjoy! 


As children become more independent readers, they often have favourite authors and parents can worry about this; however, many adults are the same! Reading these for pleasure is valuable so when your child finds an author that they love, allow them to read for pleasure. You can always encourage them to read non-fiction, such as newspapers, at opportune moments to help keep some balance. Equally, help your child to find new series that they may wish to read. Book shops and the staff at local libraries, are often happy to make recommendations and talk about new releases and the internet is packed with extracts and reviews. To engage with your child, if they are reading longer books, ask them to discuss their book, help them with book reviews or even read it yourself and talk in a ‘book club’ way!


Reading at Boarshaw Primary

Reading is a vital skill and can bring much pleasure; as adults we need to act as role models and encourage and inspire children as much as possible. At our school pupils can select a library book to bring home each week. The school library is open every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, both in the morning and after school, so that all pupils can visit and borrow books with their parents/carers. 


Reading in class is taught by sharing books and novels with the whole class/in small guided groups. Pupils are encouraged to unpick new vocabulary, identify genres and common themes, improve their inference and deduction skills as well as recognise how and why an author creates a certain effect within the book. Books selected are always age-appropriate yet challenging texts to help engage pupils and strengthen that love for reading. Each year group has a list of books, taken from our cultural capital, to read throughout the year, either as a focus text or just for pleasure as a class novel. Further details can be found in our English and Library policies. 


What is phonics?

There has been a big shift in the past few years in how we teach reading in school. This is having a huge impact and helping many children learn to read and spell. Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read. Phonics runs alongside other teaching methods to help children develop vital reading skills and give them a real love of reading. Words are made up from small units of sound (phonemes) and phonics teaches children to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. This helps them learn to read and spell words.


In phonics lessons children are taught three main things:

  • GPCs (grapheme phoneme correspondences)

GPCs simply means that children are taught all the phonemes in the English language and ways of writing them down. The first sounds to be taught are s, a, t, p.

  • Blending

Children are taught to blend sounds together by merging the individual sounds together  until they can hear what the word is. This is a vital reading skill.

  • Segmenting

Segmenting is the opposite of blending! Children are able to say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up. This is a vital spelling skill.


How do we teach phonics at Boarshaw Primary School?

At Boarshaw we use Rocket Phonics which is a systematic, synthetic phonics programme published by the Department of Education.  It aims to build children’s speaking and listening skills as well as prepare them for learning to read by developing their phonics knowledge and skills.  We teach whole-class phonics for 30 minutes each day.  Each phonics session allows pupils to develop their knowledge of reading, comprehension, spelling and handwriting. Reading books are carefully matched to where pupils are working and only include graphemes they have already covered. 


The Phonics Screening Check

The Phonics Screening Check was introduced by the Government in 2012 and it is statutory to administer this to Year 1 pupils in June of each academic year. The check is taken individually by pupils and is designed to give information on how children are progressing with their early reading skills. The check consists of 40 words (20 real words and 20 pseudo words) and will take 5-10 minutes to complete. During the check pupils read the words and results are shared with parents at the end of summer term. 

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