The Belmont Approach To Phonics & Reading
At Belmont Primary School, early reading is taught using synthetic phonics as the main approach. Children are systematically taught the 42 phonemes (sounds), using a multi- sensory approach. There are daily phonic sessions where the children are encouraged to blend the sounds for reading and segment the sounds for writing. The school uses the principles and phases of the government’s ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme but also uses the ‘Jolly Phonics’ resources in the early stages. Additionally, children are gradually taught the high frequency ‘tricky’ words – those which are not phonetically regular. By combining these elements, children have the tools and skills to be able to write independently at an early age and are given lots of opportunities to apply their phonic skills throughout a rich and varied curriculum.
When the children have mastered this ‘Basic Code’ (one way of writing each of the 42 sounds) we continue to teach some of the alternative graphemes (spelling choices) used to represent the sounds(the ‘Extended Code’). Children learn to select the most appropriate grapheme using the ‘best bet’ strategy. We continue to teach the ‘tricky’ words and also introduce key spelling strategies. Phonics is assessed regularly to monitor progress towards the Year 1 Phonics check in June.
Our early reading books have been carefully chosen to contain mostly phonetically regular words that children can sound out and read independently. Once children have mastered the phonic skills and are familiar with a wider range of phonemes, they progress onto books that have been ‘Book Banded’ to match National Curriculum Levels. At this stage, we introduce different reading strategies and a wider range of texts. Our reading schemes include ‘Oxford Reading Tree’ books, in which the children are introduced to the familiar, likeable characters of Biff, Chip, Kipper and Floppy. When children are proficient readers we encourage them to move off the scheme books and onto real books to further their development as readers. We encourage children to read with expression and confidence, making informed choices about the books they select. Weekly Guided Reading sessions from Year 1 upwards, are also used to specifically teach the skills of reading to groups of children of similar ability. Teachers keep a detailed reading record to monitor progress and set targets for the pupil.
Our reading scheme books form only a small part of the reading experience at Belmont. We aim to foster a love of reading through providing quality books and resources that children can share and enjoy both at school and at home. The importance and joy of reading is reinforced continually through rich and stimulating curriculum experiences.