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Pirehill First School


Phonics and Reading​

Phonics at Pirehill ...

At Pirehill, phonics is a high priority and we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident, enthusiastic and life-long readers and writers. We are excited to share with you our phonic scheme. After a lot of research, we invested in ‘Supersonic Phonic Friends’ (SSPF), to give our children the very best start in their learning. It is a fully systematic, synthetic programme and aims to build children's speaking and listening skills as well as developing the phonic knowledge and skills children need to read and write. Phonic lessons are taught daily for approx. 30 minutes and have a clear structure following the model: Revisit & Revise, Teach, Practise and Apply. With Supersonic Phonic Friends, we wrap our children in rhyme to ensure they hear the sounds in the words they speak. Supersonic Phonic Friends is an enchanted adventure of phonics where children will meet several friendly woodland characters including Listening Len who helps us hear the sounds in the words and See it Sam who helps us see and remember the spellings each and every week. Seb, Bill and Ben are the three musketeers (Segmenting Seb, Building Bill and Blending Ben) who help you pick up a book and a pen! Find out how to pronounce the letter sounds correctly and as pure sounds by clicking here - Pure Phonic Sounds. Finally, meet the characters and have a look at the links below to find out a little more about our phonics scheme.


All Year 1 pupils complete the Phonic Screening Check in June. A phonic intervention programme is delivered in school to support identified pupils who are at risk of not meeting the required standard. Should these pupils, or any other pupils, still not achieve the expected standard, intervention continues through Year 2 and pupils retake the Phonic Screening Check the following June.


From Year 2 onwards, our pupils learn to acquire the knowledge of spelling conventions – patterns and rules; but integral to the teaching is the opportunity to promote the learning of spellings, including statutory words, common exceptions, the addition of prefixes and suffixes and personal spellings.


Reading at Pirehill ...

We believe that reading is an essential life skill and of vital importance, therefore both the teaching of reading skills and the enjoyment of literature is always a priority at Pirehill. We are ambitious and determined that every pupil will learn to read and ensure we develop our children’s familiarity with a wide range of books. We encourage our pupils to become enthusiastic, autonomous and thoughtful readers, who not only decode the text, but understand and engage with what they are reading.


We develop pupils’ reading through the rigorous teaching of systematic and synthetic phonics, shared reading, whole class reading, home reading, individual reading and school library access. All year groups engage in story time, which helps to foster a love for reading even further. A wide range of well-loved stories are shared with the children as well as a range of poetry and non-fiction texts. Books are often re-read to ensure that pupils engage with a range of texts at a deeper level to promote writing, drama and role play. This time is also used to encourage and develop speaking and listening skills through active listening, questioning, discussion and rhyme.


Our sharp focus on ensuring that our youngest children in their very early stages of reading gain the phonics knowledge and language comprehension necessary to read and the skills to communicate, gives them the strong foundations for future learning. Children in Reception and Year 1 participate in daily phonics sessions following the Supersonic Phonic Friends Scheme. Phonic sessions are well matched and suited to the child’s age and stage and equip them with crucial early reading skills. Each child progresses through the phonic phases in lessons as well as accessing independent mastery activities.


In order to ensure that all children have a reading book which is well matched to their phonic ability, we send home a book from the Collins Big Cat Phonics range. Our sequence of reading books ensures a cumulative progression in expected phonic knowledge. We can supplement and extend our children’s reading through various titles from the Oxford Reading Tree scheme, Rising Stars and Phonics Bug schemes. This ensures children are exposed to a range of different literature and genres as well as  providing a wealth of phonic books to read and re-read, both in school and at home.


From Year 1 onwards, reading and comprehension skills are taught weekly through effective whole class reading lessons. Teachers carefully ensure a wide variety of engaging books and texts offer a sufficient level of challenge to the pupils’ reading and comprehension ability and allow our pupils to experience a wealth of authors and styles. The use of echo and choral reading teaching strategies offers opportunities for pupils to learn from clearly modelled ‘reading behaviours’; decoding, fluency, expression and the purpose of punctuation. Targeted questioning relating to the chosen text supports and enables pupils to recall information, sequence and summarise events, identify and comment on the structure, features and organisation of texts as well as promote the use of deduction (drawing conclusions from the information given in a text) and inference (reading between the lines to draw conclusions which are based on, but go beyond the information given in the text).


In addition to whole class reading sessions, all pupils have the opportunity to read their levelled reading books to either the class teacher or teaching assistant on a weekly basis. These books are closely matched to pupils’ phonic knowledge and offer the right level of challenge so pupils make good progress. We work in partnership with parents so pupils develop a love of books and reading. To aid strong communication between school and home, each pupil has a reading diary where both staff and parents/carers are able to comment on reading progress.


Home reading is encouraged and is an integral part of each pupil’s development. At Pirehill First School, each pupil is expected to read regularly at home each week; this may be to an adult for developing readers or independently for fluent readers. Daily reading at home and at school ensures children make good progress in developing reading skills, whatever their age. Encouraging pupils to read widely, in and out of school, across both fiction and non-fiction, helps to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum. Additionally, reading widely and often increases pupils’ vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech.


Children also receive a book from our school library to share at home. This is to help the children to develop their verbal comprehension skills and love of reading. Children are actively encouraged to read these books at home as well as at school. Books are changed regularly. Children are also given spelling mats and tricky word cards to support home learning. These are reviewed regularly with new spellings for sounds and words added as appropriate during the year. All classrooms have a reading area to promote a space for reading and telling stories. We also have an inviting outdoor reading area which provides a really cosy area to sit and enjoy a wide range of books. This helps us to promote a love of reading from the very beginning of a child’s journey at Pirehill. Reading Buddies meet regularly to share stories and always enjoy spending valuable time together.

Supersonic Phonic Friends