Here at Cherry Oak we have invested in the Read, Write, Inc. Reading Programme. For pupils working on the Early Years Explorers curriculum we focus on developing their early speaking and listening skills as a prerequisite to phonics work. Children are encouraged to listen to, to recognise and recall sounds around them. For example, listening to environmental sounds, learning sounds through music and encouraging pupils to communicate about what they hear, see and do.
When pupils are ready, we introduce the single letters sounds within Set 1 of the Read Write Inc. programme. We use a consistent daily format, pupils learn to read, recognise and write the letter sounds. Within this phase, pupils learn to blend sounds in order to read CVC words i.e. cat, dog, mat. They learn how to form the letters correctly using associated “stories” with pictorial representations for each letter. Pupils are encouraged to use “Fred Talk” to blend orally, sounding out the letters and then saying the whole word i.e. c-a-t – cat, d-o-g – dog, m-a-t – mat. The single sounds are constantly reviewed and when pupils know most of the single letter sounds and can blend orally, the programme introduces sounds containing two letters, known as “Special Friends” i.e. sh, ch, th, qu, ng, nk, using the same format as above.
We recognise that our children learn at different rates and at this point, the class may be split into smaller groups. Some will continue to review the sounds in Set 1. Others will begin to use the Red Ditty Books to further develop their reading, writing and also their listening and comprehension skills. Set 2 sounds are introduced (ay, ee, igh, oo as in zoo, oo as in book, ar, air, ir, ou, oy). Pupils use the Ditty story books to practice reading the sounds at speed “Speed sounds”, Green words (words that can be blended) and Red words (common exception words that need to be learnt) relating to each story. In this phase, pupils will read the story several times with the focus on building intonation and fluency. They are encouraged to answer questions about the story to demonstrate their understanding and using the Ditty Writing books, begin to use capital letters and full stops and complete sentences relating to the story, working towards writing a spoken sentence from memory.
Once pupils are able read and recognise the sounds in Set 2 speedily and can ‘Fred Talk’ real and alien words without ‘Fred Talk’, the lessons continue to review Set 1 and 2 sounds. Set 3 sounds are now, introduced (ea oi a-e i-e o-e u-e aw are ur er ow ai oa ew ire ear ure tion tious/cious). The lessons follow the same format focusing on reading and developing writing skills i.e. descriptive sentences, speech and thought bubbles, short sequenced narrative, shopping lists, persuasive invitation and comparative description.
In Early Years and Key Stage 1 we follow a topic based curriculum and the skills learnt in the RWI programme are practiced within a range of child initiated play activities which helps to generalise and to consolidate the learnt skills.
Whilst we have high expectations, pupils are never pushed beyond their current capabilities and will only move to the next phase/stage when they have demonstrated that they are ready.