Phonics best at Hill West

Pupils and staff at Hill West Primary School are celebrating after being among England’s top schools for the successful teaching of early years reading. This year, 100 per cent of pupils passed the phonics test screening – an impressive 19 per cent above the national average.

In a first for the school, a record-breaking 60 out of 60 year 1 children passed the national phonics screening check. The test, for all five and six year-olds, is designed to ensure that children are able to read phonetically – this means they recognise the sounds that are said when they look at the letters and can blend the sounds to read words.

The test is designed to give teachers and parents information on how individual children are progressing in phonics.  It is designed to confirm whether pupils have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard and will identify pupils who need extra help to improve these skills. It requires the children to apply their phonic knowledge through all of the different phases that they have been learning since reception.

Previously, pupils at Hill West have achieved highly in the phonics screening check, but 2016 saw a new record with all 60 children in Year 1 passing with flying colours, setting a 100% pass rate.  Not only did every child pass, there was also a new record set for the percentage of children who achieved full marks, 40 out of 40.

Dr Beth Clarke, headteacher of Hill West Primary School, which is part of the Arthur Terry Learning Partnership, said this was: “another fantastic achievement.”

She said:

Staff and governors are incredibly proud of our pupils and that our hard work is helping them to be better readers. This superb result is testament to the drive to instill a love of reading across school.

Phonics plays an instrumental role in early reading development and we know if children are successful readers, then this opens up the doors to a wealth of opportunities.

At Hill West, our focus is on Synthetic Phonics – pupils are taught to read letters or groups of letters by saying the sound(s) they represent – so, they are taught that the letter or group of letters make a particular sound when read together. Children can then start to read words by blending or sounding out (synthesising) the sounds together to make a word.  It’s a technique that is successfully used to teach the first stages of literacy and, as our outstanding phonics results show, our pupils are happy and fluent readers!”

For more information on the screening at Hill West, please read our feature http://www.atlp.org.uk/fostering-love-reading-across-school/