English and Phonics

Phonics at Longwell Green Primary School

PhonicsAt Longwell Green Primary School we teach synthetic phonics throughout the school. We primarily follow Letters and Sounds which is a phonics resource published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. It aims to build children’s speaking and listening skills as well as prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills and is split into six phases. It aims for children to develop fluent word reading skills and have good foundations in spelling by the end of Key Stage 1. Your child’s class teacher will be able to tell you which phase they are working in.

The teaching of phonics begins in Reception, using Jolly phonics to introduce sounds to the children. Children will then learn further sounds in line with Letters and Sounds. In order to support children to make the most progress in phonics, they are organised into groups from Reception to Year 2. Regular assessment is carried out and these groups remain fluid to ensure that children can move between them as needed. Phonics is taught to children in years 3, 4, 5 and 6 where required.

Year 1 Phonics Screening Check

Phonics MatIn 2011-2012 the government introduced the statutory checking of phonics for Year 1 children. The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check is a national check of children’s phonic knowledge that all children in England are required to complete. The check comprises of a mixture of real and nonsense words which children have to decode/read. The check takes place at the end of Year 1 and parents will be invited to a meeting while their child is in Year 1 to find out more information.

Further information about the phonics screening check can be found using the following link.


Longwell Green School Reading Diary: 

Download: Reading Diary

Download: Extra Weekly Sheet

The Power of Books at Longwell Green

Here at Longwell Green Primary School, we acknowledge the important role books can play for children both on social and academic levels so our aim is for every child to get off to an excellent start as a reader and develop a love of books as they progress through the school. We want every member of our Longwell Green family reading for pleasure because we know the huge, positive impacts it can have on their lives and future.

Learning to read with fluency and understanding is an essential skill. It opens up new worlds to children and enables them to access information independently. Becoming a proficient reader is essential as reading underpins almost every area of the curriculum. We want to inspire children to read and hope that our children will be lifelong readers who can always find solace and comfort in the pages of a good book. 

We can use books to open a world that few of us can ever really experience.  It should take a child to places new, through emotions and excitement and danger, safely allowing them to grow through empathy with and through the experience of others.

At Longwell Green, we do two main things with books, in two main ways:

Picture Books

Each week, the children have a high quality texts, sourced from a local, independent bookstore and funded by our hard working and generous FOLG (Friends of Longwell Green), shared with them a couple of times in class; once to enjoy it as a text, the second time round  to deconstruct. When deconstructing, the class identify the plot shape and spend time discussing some key questions, either with their talk partners or in small groups.  As a class, the text is deconstructed to look at language use, both sentence structures when they are of interest for the reader.  The children then re-tell the story with our younger writers using thumbnail images of the text to help scaffold. Children ‘Magpie’ impressive key words, phrases and sentences from the book and add their own details and flair as a writer to interest their new audience.

Once the children have become expert at re-telling, then they move to re-telling but changing something; character name, setting, add new character, whilst keeping the same plot arch or even use the book as a stimulus for a different type of writing, such as diary, instruction etc

Class Novels

Our Class novels, or Beloved Books, are only ever a high quality books and authors pitched at or ever so slightly above where children would choose to read in class.  All children have their own copy to hold and all are tasked with looking after the text in the lesson.  All children read along with their class teacher each day and this is something they look forward to greatly. The teacher reads, modelling pace, emphasis and creating love of the story.  As a class, the key parts of the story are drawn out, key language, key plot points, key sentence structures and highlighted and discussed. The children will then look at exemplars, key questions and finally use the book events as a stimulus and the exemplar text as a scaffold. 

Over time, both models combined, hugely impact pupils’ vocabulary, sentence cohesion and flow, understanding of cause and effect in plot and also in non-fiction writing.

Phonic Books

Our school reading books incorporate a range of reading schemes to enable children to have a breadth of reading experiences and the opportunity to read books that interest them. Our EYFS and KS1 reading scheme is divided into 5 phases so that children are reading texts that are in line with their decoding phase. The books that are sent home to read 1:1 with an adult at home are books that contain sounds they already know. The books select to read in class and in phonics lessons match what they have just learnt. This approach empowers the children to become confident readers which will make a massive difference to their approach to reading.

Whole Class Reading Focus on Comprehension

Once children are able to decode words, it is important that they begin to develop their skills of comprehension so that they are able to truly understand what is happening in a text. In class, we have whole class reading sessions using an Inference approach model to help children understand what we are reading. It is broken into five key stages and if all adults reading with children follow these steps, their skills as a reader will develop quickly and equip them with tools to progress and become more confident and independent readers. We talk explicitly about what makes someone a ‘good reader’. If you can mirror this language at home, it will really benefit your child and help them progress even further.

Predict and Wonder (Before and during reading)

Good readers look carefully at the title and each sentence.  As they read, they predict what might happen, paint a picture in their mind and wonder out loud as they ask questions about what they’re reading! I wonder if… Could it be….I can see… so I think…

Make Links (Before and during reading)

Good readers make links as they read. They use their background knowledge about other books and the world around them to understand new texts. They think about other books that they have read that are similar and they link parts of the text to things they know about the world and their own experiences. This helps them think about and UNDERSTAND what they’re reading a LOT better!

Spot Meanings, Breakdown and use Repair Strategies to repair (during reading)

Good readers are excellent at spotting words or phrases they don’t understand and they have strategies to help:

1: Go back a few sentences and re-read to collect clues.

2: Make pictures in your mind and re-read the hard bit.

3: Look at the key words in the sentence-these have meaning.

4: Read back and forward a bit. Keep going with that picture in your mind.

5: Is it like another word you know? If it’s big, can you make it smaller? Use your sounds to help.

6: What type of word is it? Capital letter at the start, it’s a noun. Ly,ed or ing on the end – it’s probably a verb.

7: Have you heard the word used before somewhere else?

Detective Time (During and After Reading)

Good readers read a text and they look closer to make sense of it and find clues just like a real detective does. They can ask and answer questions using EVIDENCE from the text.

Get Visual (After Reading and sometimes during)

When good readers have finished reading, they rethink about what they’ve read and make a picture in their mind. They can retell what has happened by summarising the main events!

The Importance of Libraries

Our School Library:

Our Library is a special place that children love to visit and borrow books from. We like to visit as a class and snuggle down to read on our own or read collaboratively in small groups. In class we have little libraries – boxes of Recommended Reads that the children can access and they love encouraging others to read new texts or try a new genre or author.

We have a special bookshelf where authors have visited school and signed books for us to enjoy! We are very lucky that we get to meet authors every year and hear about their inspiration for writing and how they put books together.

Our Local Library is Hanham:

If you aren’t already a member, then we would strongly urge you to join Hanham library. It’s free to join and it will offer your whole family access to thousands of books. Even if your child has a well-stocked bookshelf at home, visiting the library is still really important and will help to expand your child’s reading repertoire. 

You can contact the library on: 01454 868006

Reading Buddies

Each child has a reading buddy in school: Y6 partner up with Year R and Year 1, Year 5 go with Y3 and Y4 pair with Y2. Every term, the whole school mixes up and changes classrooms to be with their reading buddy- the children love this time and the school transforms into a magical space with little nooks and crannies filled with children helping and encouraging each other and sharing books together. Sometimes the children share their own writing with their reading buddy as their audience which gives purpose to their writing and makes the link between reading and writing clearer.

Longwell Green Staff are Readers Too!

We like to model being readers to the children so you may see posters around the school that state what different staff members are reading. In addition to many conversations we have with the children about their own love of books and changing and sharing texts with each other, we have a staff bookshelf, just like the children, outside Mrs Dawson’s room where we share books and recommend new ones for each other.

How Parents and Carers can support Reading

Reading regularly with your child is so important – we really can’t over-emphasise what a huge difference this will make to your child’s reading progress. We strongly encourage families to hear their child read as often as possible and try to make it a pleasurable experience for all involved.

Sharing stories is also really important as well as a LOT of fun. Young children in particular love hearing stories read aloud (often the same ones over and over again). Older children enjoy having chapter books read to them or following the, ‘I read a page / you read a page’ routine.

There are 3 main approaches in which you can support your children at home:

  1. Reading to your child.

Reading to your child is an opportunity for you to read a story or a book to your children, the children will see you following the text and take in the story as you read. This gives the opportunity to model reading behaviour: taking care of the book, being excited to read, using expression and voices for characters or exciting facts, tracking the text from left to right, starting at the beginning of the book, turning one page at a time, holding books etc.

  1. Reading with your child.

      Please see Inference Model notes above in the Whole Class Reading Focus on Comprehension section

 Reading with your child is a lovely opportunity to share a book and enjoy the story as you discuss it. When the children are younger, you could play games with them as they read such as pointing to words in the text that they know, spotting sounds from their own names or letters and sounds learned in phonics lessons that week or other new and familiar words such as tricky words. You can make links to events in the text with things you as a family have experienced and discuss your feelings at the time. 

  1. Hearing your child read.

Hearing your child read will be an opportunity to explore the skills learned in school and support children with their independence as well as celebrating their achievements. It is worth bearing in mind how a child reads out loud is what they hear in their head! If you want them to enjoy reading then let them read a part of the text first to decode and then read again more fluently and expressively so they feel more confident and enjoy it more! As your child’s reading skills progress you will quickly see them go from spotting familiar sounds and letters, to reading words, sentences, paragraphs and eventually whole books independently! They will thank you for supporting them with this journey and you will see their love for books and confidence grow as they feel more empowered as a reader! It is one of our favourite things to see as class teachers each year!

Why can’t I skip reading tonight?

Friends of Longwell Green Second Hand Book Fair

A couple of times each year, our hardworking FOLG team hold a second hand book fair after school. This is an excellent opportunity for you to visit with your child and select some new books to engage your children at very reasonable prices. There are also films and board games available which also encourage collaborative reading for information activities. In addition, all profits go to the school so you are getting a bargain new book for your child whilst also helping the school raise vital funds for equipment and resources to support all children.

Get Your Children Involved with School Reading events

Across the year we have several events that celebrate and encourage reading for children. We have the FOLG second hand book fair as mentioned above as well as another Scholastic Book Fair visit, Book at Bedtime, World Book Day, Author visits and an after school reading club.

Ideas for Encouraging Your Children

If you are keen to find more information about supporting your child’s reading development then these websites may be useful for you:

The ‘Words for Life’ website is crammed full of useful tips and ideas for children at different ages.

The ‘Book Sorter’ website allows you to find thousands of recommended reads made by other children based on the selections you put in. You can also register to make your own book recommendations to encourage others!

The ‘Oxford Owl Encouraging Reading’ website is perfect for new ideas and booklist –Nikki Gamble is bound to help you whatever approach your child has to reading.

Writing at Longwell Green School

Children at Longwell Green Primary School enjoy accessing high quality writing experiences. These writing experiences are often linked to the children’s topic and therefore are rich in purpose. Teachers plan opportunities for children to;

  • Explore and read a range of texts linked to the genre.
  • Develop their speaking and listening skills, including role play, drama and presentational techniques.
  • Develop a good understanding of the features of different text types.
  • Experience high quality teacher modelled writing.
  • Plan and complete short and extended pieces of writing.
  • Evaluate, edit and improve written pieces of work.

Children will develop key word and sentence level skills through the genre that they are learning about and in cross-curricular writing. Teachers will identify areas for development for children and these will become their targets. These targets will be addressed during writing sessions. Opportunities for regular short burst writing are encouraged throughout a unit of work, enabling the children to experience writing opportunities as regularly as possible.

A useful website and resources to explore at home