At the Convent of Jesus and Mary Catholic Infant School and Nursery, we recognise reading as a key life skill, which underpins access to the rest of the curriculum. Our aim is for pupils to read words and simple sentences by the end of Reception, become successful, fluent readers by the end of Key Stage 1 and develop a lifelong love of reading as they move through school. The systematic teaching of synthetic phonics, using the Bug Club Phonics Programme is given high priority throughout Early Years and Key Stage 1.
At the Convent of Jesus and Mary Catholic Infant School & Nursery pupils begin to learn phonics as soon as they start the Nursery. Our school is a vibrant multi-cultural community; all living, learning and growing in our faiths together, fostering a highly valued sense of community aiming to ensure that the values and principles of the school reflect pupil’s diverse backgrounds, cultures and the wider community. Some of our families experience high levels of social and economic disadvantage and high social deprivation with many living in over-crowded households. Our community is ethnically and culturally diverse with over 30 different languages spoken in the school and therefore a significant number of EAL (63.6%) pupils from families who speak very little English. This presents us with several challenges that we overcome by ensuring we offer an inclusive, language rich curriculum. We are aware that our pupils live in the urban environment with many being unable to access more enriching experiences, opportunities to explore varied environments and limited access to books. A significant number of children join our nursery from very low starting points, with language being often the biggest barrier to learning. We have therefore designed an EYFS curriculum that is language rich to ensure pupils are well prepared to achieve well at the end of Reception (Early Learning Goals) and the start of KS1.
We introduced Bug Club Phonics during lockdown because of its range of online resources and we have continued to use it as it is one of the DfE validated schemes.
The Bug Club Phonics Programme study fosters children’s speaking and listening skills and equips them with the phonic knowledge and skills they need to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. The high quality remote learning phonics programme provides support for parents and carers with systematic provision at home. The Bug Club Phonics offers printable materials intended to support pupils in consolidating their phonic knowledge. These printable materials can be customised by the teacher to match the context of each class as well as the needs of individual pupils.
The Bug Club Phonics is a systematic synthetic phonics scheme that enables our teacher to teach phonics in a fast and engaging way so that all pupils become confident readers. Bug Club Phonics is currently on the list of the DFE validated SSP Programmes and matches the expectations of the national curriculum and the early learning goals. The Bug Club Phonics provides inbuilt formative and summative assessment unit-by-unit as well as term-by-term. The decodable readers have been written to match the order in which grapheme-phoneme correspondences are introduced in class, giving pupils the opportunity to practise their blending skills and to consolidate their knowledge. This can also be achieved by allocating the eBook version. The eBooks are invaluable in supporting pupils to practise reading at home as they include a phoneme pronunciation guide to aid pupils’ blending skills.
Bug Club Phonics resources and books are designed to build pupils’ knowledge cumulatively and teachers can feel confident that pupils will meet previously taught content in their reading books. Books can be allocated by Phonic Phases either in print or via an eBook. Bug Club Phonics texts include fiction, comics and non-fiction and the Bug Club range includes plays and poetry. Both series are rich in vocabulary and help to develop language comprehension through engaging contexts, characters and storylines.
In the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Key Stage One, daily high-quality, interactive phonics lessons are taught daily through a systematic approach.
Pupils are taught within their class as well as through streaming groups in Reception, Year one, and Year 2, to ensure that all pupils are working towards, within the expected standard or beyond. Synthetic phonics at our school are taught using Bug Club Phonics.
The Bug Club Phonics Programme study enables pupils to see the relationship between reading and spelling from an early phase so that the teaching of one reinforces understanding of the other. Decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling) are treated as reversible processes. This programme is made up of a six-phase teaching programme with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. Pupils are also taught to read and spell high frequency words for their phase.
The Bug Club Phonics Programme is clearly mapped out and is delivered daily by trained teaching and support staff from Nursery to Year 2. Each unit introduces a new set of letters/graphemes to decode whilst revising those previously introduced (apart from Unit 1). This means that the basic 40+ phonemes are acquired quickly, and early reading skills develop rapidly. The programme develops pupils’ fluency and confidence by ensuring the readers they use to practice only include what they have already been taught.
In Nursery pupils are taught using Phase 1 to support their developing speaking and listening skills as well as linking of sounds and letters. Activities are divided into seven groups:
Nursery pupils are encouraged to enjoy books with many opportunities for daily storytelling using Big books and picture books. The focus of this phase is on listening to and repeating sounds, rather than on directly reading words, however, in the Spring Term Nursery pupils are introduced to simple letter-sound correspondences. As each set of letters is introduced, they are encouraged to use their new knowledge to sound out and blend words. For example, they will learn to blend the sounds – – to make the word . This is in preparation for Phase Two as they move onto Reception.
The Bug Club Phonics is carefully mapped out to ensure teachers can encompass the required expectations before the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check. All staff undertake regular training in phonics to ensure consistency of approach across the school. Pupils are arranged according to their level of need and are assessed and regrouped following the half-termly summative assessment.
Pupils in Reception are taught as a class in the Autumn term and are streamed in the Spring Term. Pupils who may need more support with phonics are assessed using the NELI Programme. The Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI) is a programme for Reception pupils (4-5 years) which has been found to improve pupil’s language and early literacy skills. A trained TA provides a short, small-group intervention or individual teaching session. Pupils continue this programme in Year 1 and are robustly assessed while continuing with Phase 1 and Phase 2 Bug Club Phonics.
In KS1 Phonics targeted interventions for those pupils who require additional support are met through the Words First Programme, which is used alongside Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Bug Club Phonics Programme. However, this only applies to pupils who need support with pre-phonics and phonological awareness. This stand-alone programme has been specifically designed to teach pupils to read and write high frequency words. The scheme takes a carefully structured approach to learning to read and write, by linking picture, word recognition and comprehension skills in a series of graded steps.
Further application of Phonics throughout the school day:
In addition to the daily phonics sessions that take place across every year group, pupils are also immersed in Reading throughout the school day by way of a range of different initiatives, which include Book Talk. Pupils in each class are grouped and follow a carousel of activities including daily reading with the class teacher, the class TA or independently. Book Talk alongside whole class shared reading of high-quality texts provides pupils ample opportunity to apply their phonics knowledge when reading. Pupils learn to decode Pearson Bug Club reading books that are closely matched to the phonic phase they are currently learning. This collection of fiction and non-fiction books are engaging and exciting with beautiful artwork, humour and characters that pupils love and are also related to many of the topics explored in the wider curriculum.
The Bug Club Phonics Programme provides regular assessment points (end of unit and end of phase) to support teachers in analysing their pupils’ progress. The wide range of assessment resources enable teachers to check pupils’ understanding systematically and frequently to ensure misconceptions are clarified quickly. Each unit ends with a game and each phase ends with an assessment to ensure knowledge is frequently recalled and consolidated. These games and assessments are weaved into the programme and are presented in a fun way to ensure pupils feel comfortable when developing their fluency and recalling their knowledge.
Pupils in Year 1 are assessed against the Phonics Screening Check in June of each year. Summative Assessment shows whether they have met the expected standard of phonic knowledge for their age. In Year 2, those pupils who do not meet the expected standard are supported through continuing whole-class daily phonics and additional targeted intervention to support them in reaching the expected standard.
!! IMPORTANT INFORMATION !!
The Year 1 phonics screen will take place in the Summer Term. As you are probably aware all children in Year 1 have to take part in this.
Please look below to learn more about the phonics screen and how you can help your child at home.