Our Approach to Phonics and Reading:
At Cathcart Street Primary School, we firmly believe that reading is vital to enable children to access the curriculum. We aim for all children not only to become fluent readers but to develop as life-long learners with a passion for reading. Reading for pleasure is a key aspect in accessing the curriculum and time is set aside on a daily basis for the teaching and practising of reading skills in classes. We pride ourselves in providing a rigorous, systematic approach to the teaching of reading and this is mainly through the use of Phonics.
What is Phonics?
Reading is taught using an approach where children are taught the phonemes (sounds) and how to blend the sounds within a word e.g. early individual letter sounds such as ‘c-a-t’ and later move onto words such as ‘sh-o-p’ where some letters join together to make different sounds.
Teachers and support staff have an excellent knowledge and understanding of the processes that help children to read and use Phonics as the central part of this process.
How is it taught?
The school uses a commercial scheme (Read, Write Inc.). In order to address each child’s different needs teachers assess each child’s phonic and reading progress regularly. This allows children to be grouped according to their needs and ability so that really effective, targeted teaching can be employed at each child’s level. The Phonics sessions take place every day for at least 20 minutes.
At Cathcart Street all our early reading books are selected by either book bands or by assessment level within a range of different reading schemes that we use. Currently, the school is using Oxford Reading Tree and has recently purchased a new whole school reading scheme called ‘Pearson’s Bug Club’.
Your child will be given a colour band to choose from which will help to ensure that the book they select is at the right reading level. Every colour band included books from a range of reading schemes so that they will experience a range of stories, text types and illustrations. Once they become proficient at one level, by reading a wide range of books within it, they will move onto the next. Children will bring a reading book home and they are strongly encouraged to read regularly at home in order to develop their fluency.
Bug Club is an online reading programme by Pearson. It is for KS1 and KS2, and is linked to their class and school reading.
Children's reading is assessed half termly and the children move through the progressive book bands. These are then matched to levelled Bug Club books, which teachers allocate to each child online, equipping them with an username and password to access the books at school and at home. For those children without internet access at home, there is ample opportunity to access Bug Club at school, through class Bug Club time, lunch time Bug Club sessions and through homework club. Children read the books, answering questions and developing their comprehension skills. As the children answer questions, they accumulate virtual gold coins, allowing them to develop their online 'Bug Club' world, and make progress in a range of games. As children complete books, the teacher will allocate more, helping them progress through the reading scheme.
Bug Club is a safe environment for your child to read, with no access from other users and no 'chat' facilities.
In class children are taught and are able to practise their reading skills through ‘Guided Reading’ sessions on a regular basis, where a teacher takes a small group of children at the same level of a ability and teaches them using one book with a copy for each child. The Bug Club books are also used as physical sets during weekly Guided Reading sessions with the teacher or teaching assistant. Some younger children or those experiencing difficulties may be heard read individually. There are, in addition, opportunities for silent reading as well as whole class stories/texts built into the curriculum on a regular basis.
Power of Reading
We have just introduced a new reading and writing scheme across the school called The Power of Reading. All year groups follow this unique approach to text-based teaching and are thoroughly enjoying the fun and engaging English lessons.
A wide range of teaching approaches are used, such as drama activates and cross curricular links, and our pupils are inspired and motivated learners. As the lessons are focused around good quality, age-appropriate books, we have also been able to promote a love of reading and continue to encourage our children to read for pleasure.
Support from Parents
School offers regular workshops for parents such as the ‘Big Breakfast Read’ as an opportunity to see our approach to the teaching of reading and phonics within your child’s year group. We strongly welcome parents’ attendance at these events.
Children are given regular reading homework to enable them to practise the skills they have learnt in school. This is vital in terms of building up their knowledge of words as well as helping them develop confidence and fluency. We feel that reading homework is a vital part of ensuring that children are able to progress and succeed as readers. It is clear that those children who get good support from home with their reading homework – by listening to them read regularly and then returning books on time- often make the much better progress than those who do not.
For younger children, one of the most powerful ways you can interact with your child is to read them a bedtime story. Children enjoy it and, not only does it help with developing their language skills and imagination, it also helps them wind down after a hectic day at school.
If you would like any support, help or advice with helping your child to read, please do not hesitate to contact any member of staff, who will be happy to help.