Most importantly, we want our pupils to love reading – whatever their age. From Reception, we read with the children every day fostering a love of all types of books; we ask our parents to do the same.
We teach key phonics skills using our custom scheme based on the Letters and Sounds phonics programme from Nursery upwards to equip our children with the necessary skills to be confident free readers as they grow older.
Further up the school, we use Shared Reading to strengthen reading comprehension skills; this approach focuses on the skills of predicting, clarifying, questioning and summarising. Through this approach, our pupils are exposed to a rich and wide variety of texts everyday whilst also developing independence in how they evaluate and discuss texts with their peers.
Our writing is closely linked to our termly topic themes; this approach gives the children even more time to learn about their topics whilst also providing a meaningful output for their work. Core skills in spelling, grammar and punctuation are taught through writing sessions, embedded in the learning rather than separate – this provides a meaningful context for their use. Handwriting practice ensures all writers present their work beautifully. We want our young writers to master the English language with a strong control of grammar and punctuation but also a rich, imaginative bank of vocabulary. With these skills and experiences, we believe they can be the authors, poets, editors and journalists of tomorrow.
Speaking and Listening
Confident public speaking and the ability to listen with focus are incredible tools to have. As such, we plan frequent opportunities for our children to speak to wider audiences, be it to a group, a class or in assembly; we hold high expectations for all in terms of speaking with volume, clarity and confidence. In our compassionate school we all value the need to listen to others – not just so we can better understand their views and opinions, but so we can strengthen ours.
Phonics is the systematic teaching of the sounds, or ‘phonemes’, that accompany the written letters (‘graphemes’) in English. It is designed to teach children to become confident and fluent readers by the end of Year 2.
All children in Early Years and Key Stage 1 have a 20 minute phonics session every day where they are introduced to new sounds and practice the sounds that they are familiar with.
At Dog Kennel Hill, we follow a bespoke phonics programme based on ‘Letters and Sounds’, a document published by the Department for Education. It is broken down into 6 parts, or ‘phases’.
Phase 1 is completed in Nursery and focuses on sounds in the environment, instrumental sounds, body sounds, voice sounds and rhythm.
Phase 2 begins in Reception. Children are taught 19 letters of the alphabet along with the sound that goes with them.
Phase 3 is also started in Reception. During this phase, the remaining 7 letters of the alphabet and their sounds are taught. Digraphs (where two letters make one sound) eg. /sh/ and /ch/ are taught in this phase for the remaining sounds in the English language.
During Phase 4, children are taught to segment (break down) and blend (read fluently) longer words. Phase 4 is a chance for children to practice and apply the phonics skills they have already learnt.
Phase 5 is taught throughout Year 1 and focuses on different ways of spelling the same sound e.g. /oi/ and /oy/ and different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know e.g. /ear/ in ‘hear’ and /ear/ in ‘bear’.
Phase 6 is taught throughout Year 2. This phase focuses on consolidating all of the other phases, as well as introducing ‘rules’ for reading and spelling, such as prefixes, suffixes and when to double or drop a letter.
Year 1 phonics screening check
At the end of Year 1, children will undertake a statutory phonics screening check. This is a short assessment to make sure that children have learnt phonics to an appropriate standard.
There are 40 words in the screening check which children are asked to read on a one-to-one basis with their teacher. The check is made up of ‘real words’ (e.g. ‘mud’) and ‘non-words’ (e.g. ‘splog’) and children need to apply their phonic knowledge to read all words.
Preparation for the check takes place during the daily phonics session, but you can help your child at home by practising phonics on a regular basis.
At DKH, we teach continuous cursive writing. This means:
- There is a clearer distinction between capital letters and lower case letters.
- Every letter has an approach stroke and a carry on stroke. This means that letters can be joined as soon as the pupil has learned two or three letters.
- When teaching the approach stroke we will say ‘touch the line…sweep up …’ The letters should finish with ‘and flick’ to facilitate joining later.
- All lower case letters begin at the base of the line.
- When the children begin to join their cursive letters (which occurs naturally with practise), they their pen will not leave the paper when writing a word. The only exception to this is the letter x.
It has particular benefits for children with spellings and reading difficulties.
Visit our YouTube channel to see our handwriting models. You can even set videos on repeat so you can practise them at home.