Phonics at Rosehill

Written by Helen Kelk, Headteacher of Rosehill Infant School
I am extremely proud to be writing a blog about our school to celebrate our achievement in phonics last academic year where we achieved 82% and matched the national average.
Our school is an inner city infant and nursery school. 96% of pupils come from minority ethnic backgrounds. The number of languages spoken within our school community has remained high with 31 languages spoken in September 2018 (27 in February 2018). The School Deprivation Indicator is consistently very high and above National, and this is reflective of the community we are proud to serve.
Our phonics data had been on a downwards trend for the past three years, with only 68% of the year 1 children passing in 2017. To improve the teaching of phonics, we applied to be part of the Derby City PSG phonics programme which helped us identify our strengths and weaknesses in school and gave us continual support through network meetings, external staff training and bespoke in school training. It is a partnership programme led by Derby Early Years Teaching School, an independent literacy consultant and a Local Authority assessment lead sharing expertise and on hand to offer guidance and support. We were assigned an SLE in phonics who carried out a whole school phonics 360 review and delivered phonics training to ensure effective practice throughout school.
Working in collaboration with my senior leadership team, we prioritised phonics in our school development plan and firmly believed that the best way forward was to have a balanced approach to reading and writing in school. Phonics is an essential strategy in learning to read and spell now closely follow Letters and Sounds as our tool for teaching phonics systematically and ensure continuity and consistency of phonics teaching throughout the school.
As a school we strongly believe good phonics teaching happens when it is exciting, interactive and purposeful and children are actively engaged. We know that children retain their learning best when they have talked about it, investigated and experimented with it. At Rosehill, we ensure children are excited about ‘Phonics time’. The reading and writing of sentences to show the application of phonics is no longer just sitting on the carpet and writing sentences on whiteboards, but it is done through working together to build words and read and write fun, silly sentences. Application of phonics is also incorporated throughout all other areas of learning, particularly in guided reading; resulting in improved reading results. Children are taught to understand that phonics is important in every subject and they take pride in getting their spellings right no matter what subject they are learning. Book scrutinies and learning walks monitor the use of phonics to ensure application is taking place throughout the taught curriculum.
As a school, we are aware of the vital role parents play in their child’s education. To maximise the parental impact, we have engaged parents in a wide variety of school- led activities including interactive, hands on phonics workshops, family learning and class drop in where parents had the opportunity to watch teachers deliver phonics sessions. This allows them to have the confidence to support their child at home.
This year we continue to be part of the phonics programme to build on and embed our skills and knowledge. A member of the team has now been appointed as a LA phonics champion to support other schools in the Derby City PSG programme and share good practice as we continue our successful phonics journey.

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