Phonics and Reading  at Avanti Court

Phonics Bug Club by Pearson is a phonics resource validated by the Department for Education and Skills. It aims to build children’s speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of five, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven.

There are six overlapping phases starting in the Early Years through to Year 2. Please click on the link below to view the phases:

The phonic phases link to the reading scheme we use in the EYFS and KS1-Bug Club. This ensures that phonics progression is linked to phonics sessions and that phonics learning is based on the order of sounds introduced in the program and links to individual reading books.

In Year 1 we supplement Bug Club with Phonics Play to introduce children to alien words and to further broaden their vocabulary.

Why we use Bug Club at Avanti Court

Bug Club Phonics is a systematic synthetic phonics scheme that enables our teacher to teach phonics in a fast and engaging way so that all pupils become confident readers. Bug Club Phonics is currently on the list of the DFE validated SSP Programmes and matches the expectations of the National Curriculum and the early learning goals. Bug Club Phonics provides inbuilt formative and summative assessment unit-by-unit as well as term-by-term. The decodable readers have been written to match the order in which grapheme-phoneme correspondences are introduced in class, giving pupils the opportunity to practise their blending skills and to consolidate their knowledge. This can also be achieved by allocating the eBook version. The eBooks are invaluable in supporting pupils to practise reading at home as they include a phoneme pronunciation guide to aid pupils’ blending skills.

Bug Club Phonics resources and books are designed to build pupils’ knowledge cumulatively so teachers can feel confident that pupils will meet previously taught content in their reading books. Books can be allocated by Phonic Phases either in print or via an eBook. Bug Club Phonics texts include fiction, comics and non-fiction and the Bug Club range includes plays and poetry. Both series are rich in vocabulary and help to develop language comprehension through engaging contexts, characters and storylines.

What research is behind Bug Club?

During 2015 and 2016, Pearson collaborated with UCL Institute of Education (IOE), to conduct a multi-approach evaluation of Bug Club. The evaluation aimed to understand the impact of Bug Club on pupils’ literacy learning, their attitudes to reading and school and their reading activity.

The study was made up of a randomised control trial, including external assessments at the baseline and then after 5.5 months, 12 months and 18 months.

The process evaluation consisted of a number of case studies. In the first year, researchers conducted observations and interviews at 10 schools, chosen for a variety of characteristics. At the end of the second year, they went into six case study schools that were chosen because of their high-reading gains to try to better understand how pupils in these schools had made such progress.

Bug Club is designed to enhance reading skills, through features like guided reading and phonically decodable books. We hypothesised that pupils who learn with Bug Club would show greater reading achievement gains.

Researchers found that after 5.5 and 12 months, Bug Club pupils made significantly more progress in reading compared to pupils not using Bug Club. The increased progress of Bug Club users was not observed from 12 to 18 months, where instead progress continued as expected. After five terms of using Bug Club, pupils in the Bug Club programme were 11 months ahead of their expected age equivalent reading score.

Please do click on this link to read the full report:

Bug Club Research Report

How is the phonics lesson structured?

The daily phonics lesson follows a clear pattern:

1.      Revisit and review – no new learning; practising what children already know.
2.      Teach – a new phoneme/grapheme correspondence or tricky word(s).
3.      Practise – the new a new phoneme/grapheme correspondence in individual words; the tricky word(s).

4.      Apply – the new phoneme/grapheme correspondence in individual words; the tricky word(s) into a sentence for reading or writing.

How do we teach High Frequency words through Bug Club?

High frequency decodable common words are included for reading and spelling throughout Bug Club Phonics. These are always taught by sounding and blending. There is also a list of ‘Not fully decodable (irregular) words’; the term used in Letters and Sounds is ‘tricky words’. Many of these words have spellings that have irregular pronunciations; these words are always deemed ‘tricky’, e.g.‘one’. However, some of the words in the list have regular pronunciations and become fully decodable later on as the phonics teaching progresses; for example, ‘like’ becomes completely decodable when split digraphs are taught.

The link below will take you to a chart which shows the order in which we teach the GPCs and tricky words; the latter are taught by drawing children’s attention to the unusual part of the spelling and letting them work out the rest for themselves using the taught GPCs and then blending for reading.

Bug Club Phonics Progression Chart

This progression, and the method, follows what research has shown to be very effective in rapidly developing independent reading skills in children. The progression includes the early introduction of simple plurals and the ‘s’ forms of verbs, as these are very common and open up children very quickly to a richer reading experience, as evidenced by research.

Daily lessons include revision not only of the previous day’s new GPC, but the words that were read the day before are used for spelling and vice versa, for consolidation. Children quickly move to reading captions and sentences.

What do the technical words mean in phonics?

There are many technical words used when teaching phonics. Here is an explanation of the most commonly used phonics words:

Glossary of phonic words

Helping your child at home with reading

‘Language learning must be supported in the home, in schools and in the community: To make the biggest difference to children’s futures, parents, educators and local leaders must be equipped with the skills, resources and strategies to support early language learning and emergent reading.’ APPG on Social Mobility (2019)

Reading with your child is so important and research shows that it’s the single most important thing you can do to help your child’s education. Reading helps children to do well in school and in later life. It helps them to develop their understanding of the world and empathy for others. It is also intrinsically enjoyable – it feeds imagination and gives children exposure to language and stories to enrich their lives.

Encourage your child to read

Reading helps your child’s well-being, develops imagination and has educational benefits too. Just a few minutes a day can have a big impact on children of all ages.

Read aloud regularly

Try to read to your child every day. It’s a special time to snuggle up and enjoy a story. Stories matter and children love re-reading them and poring over the pictures. Try adding funny voices to bring characters to life

Encourage reading choice

Give children lots of opportunities to read different things in their own time – it doesn’t just have to be books. There’s fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comics, magazines, recipes and much more. Try leaving interesting reading material in different places around the home and see who picks it up.

Read together

Choose a favourite time to read together as a family and enjoy it. This might be everyone reading the same book together, reading different things at the same time, or getting your children to read to each other. This time spent reading together can be relaxing for all.

Create a comfortable environment

Make a calm, comfortable place for your family to relax and read independently – or together.

Make use of your local library

Libraries in England are able to open from 4 July, so visit them when you’re able to and explore all sorts of reading ideas. Local libraries also offer brilliant online materials, including audio-books and ebooks to borrow. See Libraries Connected for more digital library services and resources.

Talk about books

This is a great way to make connections, develop understanding and make reading even more enjoyable. Start by discussing the front cover and talking about what it reveals and suggests the book could be about. Then talk about what you’ve been reading and share ideas. You could discuss something that happened that surprised you, or something new that you found out. You could talk about how the book makes you feel and whether it reminds you of anything.

Bring reading to life

You could try cooking a recipe you’ve read together. Would you recommend it to a friend? Alternatively, play a game where you pretend to be the characters in a book, or discuss an interesting article you’ve read.

Make reading active

Play games that involve making connections between pictures, objects and words, such as reading about an object and finding similar things in your home. You could organise treasure hunts related to what you’re reading. Try creating your child’s very own book by using photos from your day and adding captions.

Engage your child in reading in a way that suits them

You know your child best and you’ll know the best times for your child to read. If they have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) then short, creative activities may be the way to get them most interested. If English is an additional language, encourage reading in a child’s first language, as well as in English. What matters most is that they enjoy it.