it’s all about full engagement with the characters involved. We have noticed that this is very effective for children who have trouble retaining things; they remember the letters and sounds much better through the action of ‘doing’. Each class is well equipped with interactive whiteboards, networked computer equipment and an extensive range of subject resources and each year group has a set of 30 wireless laptops, but because the children seem to learn faster through the physical and hands-on activity, actually participating with whole body movements, we use very few digital activities for phonics and reading. We introduce tricky non-decodable words

alongside the decodable ones and worry less about spelling; this will come in time. This learning is then reinforced by sending a

selection of high frequency words home which is supported through our parent workshops.

activities such as group discussions, talking about work to peers or adults, drama and stories. Starting in the nursery, children are taught to

read using letters and sounds, supported by Jolly Phonics which offers the kinaesthetic approach that has made a notable impact on their learning; the teachers plan interesting ‘active’ tasks and you see all the children becoming very absorbed in their learning. By the time they get into the reception class

most children are already engaged in phonics and love books. For us, using the Jolly Phonics tactile and visual resources and the recommended learning pathway has worked!

Can you give me an example of the daily reading and spelling activities that your teachers use in the classroom? Our teachers will plan a lesson around a sound that they’re focusing on at that time. This may include songs, flash cards, puppets and stories, with letter sounds and rhymes on the interactive whiteboard. The puppets work particularly well as

Can you explain a little more about your parent workshops? We all recognise the benefit of parental involvement in their child’s development, but this comes with the concern that sometimes parents, or guardians may ‘teach’ them in a different way to the way we do, which can end up being confusing for the child and make matters worse. Once children have been in school for a few weeks we invite the parents in for a reading workshop. By using Jolly Phonics, we have learned that there is a very specific process in teaching reading in order to achieve effective outcomes. We follow this in school but of course the children’s learning is going to be reinforced more effectively if the parental support is aligned to our teaching. During the workshops we model lessons for parents, and they observe our teachers’ articulation of the sounds and the way we blend and segment sounds. We explain that hearing their child read at home is important but going a step further and spending time discussing the book with them and asking questions is a very valuable way in which they can contribute to their child’s progress. We get great feedback on these workshops, and interestingly enough, particularly from dads.

How do you support those children who really struggle with phonics? Like any school there is clear differentiation between the various levels of development. If we feel a child is not progressing in Year 1, we introduce targeted support. After the phonics

screening check, if they’re still struggling, we invite the parents in again to ensure they are fully aware of the challenges their child is facing and with their permission we may sometimes invite them for intervention sessions before school starts. Some parents are harder to reach than others, but they will always do better if parents are involved. At the end of our first year of implementing

this teaching strategy, the school’s results in Year 1 national phonic check showed results much higher than the previous year and well above the national average. And the progress continues. In 2018, Ofsted reported that our standards of

teaching and learning especially in reading and writing are established and secure and that 99 per cent of our parents would recommend Rush Green to other parents. We will continue to build on recent successes and our upward trajectory towards providing an outstanding education for all children. Every day we strive to succeed!

Editor's Choice 2020 5

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