At St Columba C. of E. Primary Academy, early reading is taught using synthetic phonics as the main approach to reading. The Academy follows the government published programme “Letters and Sounds” which supports us in providing a multi-sensory approach to learning phonics. Pupils are systematically taught the phonemes (sounds), how to blend the sounds all through the word for reading, and how to segment the sounds in order to write words. They are taught to use their phonic skills and knowledge as their first approach to reading, but are also taught high frequency words which do not completely follow the phonic rules.
In 2014, we purchased a new range of phonetically decodable reading books, known as Phonic Bug, which help the children to practice their phonic skills while they are learning to read. These books are organised into bands that follow the teaching progression within Letters and Sounds.
All of our early reading books are colour banded. Your child will be given a colour band to choose their home reading book from which will help to ensure that the book they select is at about the right reading level for them. Every colour band includes books from a range of reading schemes so that they will experience a range of stories, text types and illustrations. We encourage parents to use the non-phonetically decodable books to read together, followed by asking and answering questions about the text in order to improve comprehension skills.
Reading for Pleasure
At St Columba C. of E. Primary Academy, we encourage children to develop a love of reading before they start school by taking part in our Reading Challenge, in conjunction with Fareham library, borrowing books to enjoy with their families.
Once they begin school, we continue to encourage families to share books with their child, and all classes have regular story times. From YR, children have a weekly library visit and continue to take home books for sharing with their parents alongside their own reading book. We hope that these habits continue as children get older – once they are independent readers, children select their own reading material, but our school librarian is still on hand to guide and advise them on which books to choose.
Our librarian is also very happy to speak to parents who want to support their child in widening their reading habits.
Mrs White and Mrs N. Smith (our librarian) also organise special events to promote reading such as author events, bed-time stories and even ran the Summer Reading Challenge with Fareham Library on a weekly basis from our Academy library so that more children could participate easily.