At Oakhill, we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. The teaching of phonics is a real strength of Oakhill Primary School.
Our Phonics Screening Check results rose sharply in 2020 and then again in 2021 with 81% passing in 2020 and 89% passing in 2021. Due to a combination of our lowest ever attaining cohort on entry, substantial mobility and the impact of Covid, our results did take a dip to 58% in 2022 although this was excellent progress from where the pupils started. 70% of pupils who had been with us from the start of Reception to the end of Year 1 passed the screening. Due to our effective phonics sessions and catch up interventions, 90% of these pupils passed the check by the end of Year 2 in 2023. Also in 2023, 79% of all Year 1 pupils passed the screening check. This included a number of pupils who joined us very late in the year. Of the pupils who were with us from the start of Year 1, 92% passed the check.
We start teaching phonics in Nursery/Reception and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.
As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At Oakhill, we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
Throughout their time in nursery, the children focus on building their speaking and listening skills and this lays the foundation for their phonics work in phase 2. The emphasis throughout nursery is to get the children attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.
The children build upon their phonological awareness that they developed throughout their time in the nursery setting. The children are taught to recognise 44 phonemes (letter sounds) and that some of these phonemes are made up of more than one letter. The children will then begin to read these sounds in words and spell words phonically.
Throughout year 1 the children are taught alternative spellings for the phonemes that they learnt in reception. They will also learn that there are alternative pronunciations of the sounds they have learnt so far. The children will complete a phonics screening check at the end of the year to assess their progress in phonics.
At Oakhill Primary School we strive to ensure that all children become successful, fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. We believe that this is achievable through a combination of strong, high quality, discrete phonics teaching combined with a whole language approach that promotes a ‘Reading for Pleasure’ culture. It is essential that our approach to teaching phonics and reading is accessible to all learners, regardless of background.