Children are taught to hear, say and recognise individual sounds as soon as they enter our Nursery. An emphasis is placed on active listening and correct pronunciation. Through an exciting and engaging curriculum, we encourage pupils to develop their spoken vocabulary to enable them to recognise and use sounds. As they grow and develop, pupils are encouraged to transfer the sounds they hear into their writing. This can be via tracing letters in the sand, painting, using play-doh or chalks and other writing materials. Music and rhyme are used extensively to encourage the learning of phonics. The school uses 'All Aboard!' phonics program, a completely integrated systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) teaching tool. By the end of Nursery, we expect that all pupils will be able to write their own name and some of the first letter sounds. As pupils move into Reception, they continue to develop their reading and blending of sounds. This is supported by the school’s reading scheme. To teach the reading of phonics, we use a variety of schemes, including decodable books from the phonics All Aboard teaching scheme, Oxford Reading Tree books and ‘Phonics Bug’. By the end of Reception, we expect all pupils to have completed Phase 3 phonics, and some to be starting Phase 4. This is continued into Year 1, where children complete phase 5 and sometimes 6. Pupils complete the phonics screening test at the end of Year 1. In 2019, 84% of pupils achieved the required mark compared with 74% nationally.
In order to develop the children's love of reading, they are provided with a wide range of books which match their phonics and interest levels. At this stage, we encourage pupils to talk about books, generate and answer questions, and comment on characters and events within the story in order to develop their vocabulary and understanding of text. We value parental support with additional reading provided for home. Pupils progress through the Oxford Reading Tree reading scheme, and this is supplemented by twice-weekly guided reading sessions in class. Pupils’ reading levels are tested at the end of Year 2.
The teaching of reading at KS2 is developed by daily reading and analysis of texts. Half an hour a day is devoted to developing inference and vocabulary to ensure that pupils are prepared for secondary school when they leave St Kentigern’s. Each class develops reading skills through their class novel. Each class studies a different novel every half term, and their writing is often based around this. Pupils also take home individual reading books. Where children are identified as requiring additional support, early morning reading clubs take place to help them catch up.