Phonics at The Minster

Phonics is a method of teaching children to read and write quickly and skilfully. At The Minster Nursery and Infants School, we follow the Read Write Inc programme. The Read Write Inc programme includes the discrete teaching of phonics, and uses storybooks and writing activity books, which are carefully matched to the phonics teaching.

From Reception, children are taught to recognise the 40+ sounds in the English language which we put together to form words. Children will progress through 3 sets of sounds. Some are represented by one letter, like ‘t’, and some by two or more, like ‘ck’ in duck and ‘ar’ as in car. We refer to sounds represented as two or more letters as ‘special friends’. As children learn the different sounds and match them to letters, they then learn to blend these sounds together to make a word, e.g. ‘c – a -t’ makes ‘cat’. Children are taught how to use their phonics to support their spelling. The children also learn to read ‘red’ or ‘tricky’ words, words which do not follow the rules of standard English and cannot be sounded out using their phonics e.g ‘the’.

Supporting evidence for Phonics Teaching

Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7.

Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently and to read for enjoyment. Children who have been taught phonics also tend to read more accurately than those taught using other methods, such as ‘look and say’. This includes children who find learning to read difficult, for example those who have dyslexia.

Reading at The Minster

Shared Reading:
In KS1, children will have embedded opportunities to read frequently during whole class English lessons. This may involve reading together as a class from the board or reading/sharing a range of high-quality texts. Each class has a daily story time, including discussion to develop comprehension.

Guided Reading:
Each week in KS1, the children will work with the class teacher in a small group to access banded reading books, which includes a variety of fiction and non-fiction texts. This text is aimed at a slightly higher level than they are able to read independently, but with the support of the class teacher, children are able to access the text and extend their reading ability and comprehension.

Parental Involvement:
At the start of the school year, your child’s class teacher will have informed you about classroom routines for each class with regards to reading books/reading homework activities. We emphasise the need for parents to take an active role in their child’s education, supporting the developing reader and encouraging open lines of communication through reading records. Children take home Read Write Inc phonics books to read, and are able to choose an additional book from their class book corner for shared reading at home. In KS1, children are also provided with access to Oxford Reading Buddy, an online library which children can use to read banded eBooks and complete quizzes to develop their comprehension.