The Curriculum Gift that we give to our children...
To teaching children to read and write by blending and segmenting individual sounds and to build children's speaking and listening skills.
More Information about Phonics.
Reading and phonics within the infant phase
So, what exactly is phonics?
Words are made up from small units of sound called phonemes. Phonics teaches children to be able to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. This helps children to learn to read words and to spell words
In phonics lessons children are taught three main things:
They are taught GPCs. This stands for grapheme phoneme correspondences. This simply means that they are taught all the phonemes in the English language and ways of writing them down. These sounds are taught in a particular order. The first sounds to be taught are s, a, t, p.
Children are taught to be able to blend. This is when children say the sounds that make up a word and are able to merge the sounds together until they can hear what the word is. This skill is vital in learning to read.
Children are also taught to segment. This is the opposite of blending. Children are able to say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up. This skill is vital in being able to spell words.
What makes phonics tricky?
In some languages learning phonics is easy because each phoneme has just one grapheme to represent it. The English language is a bit more complicated than this. This is largely because England has been invaded so many times throughout its history. Each set of invaders brought new words and new sounds with them. As a result, English only has around 44 phonemes but there are around 120 graphemes or ways of writing down those 44 phonemes. Obviously we only have 26 letters in the alphabet so some graphemes are made up from more than one letter.
ch th oo ay (these are all digraphs - graphemes with two letters)
There are other graphemes that are trigraphs (made up of 3 letters) and even a few made from 4 letters.
Another slightly sticky problem is that some graphemes can represent more than one phoneme. For example ch makes very different sounds in these three words: chip, school, chef.
So why bother learning phonics?
In the past people argued that because the English language is so tricky, there was no point teaching children phonics. Now, most people agree that these tricky bits mean that it is even more important that we teach phonics and children learn it clearly and systematically. A written language is basically a kind of a code. Teaching phonics is just teaching children to crack that code. Children learn the simple bits first and then easily progress to get the hang of the trickier bits.
Intent, Implementation, Impact.
At our school we believe that reading is an essential life skill, integral to a child’s understanding and appreciation of the world around them. We understand that a good grasp of English is the bedrock of the entire curriculum and that children who are confident and adept readers and writers will be empowered to succeed in other areas.
Our reading curriculum strives to balance the instruction of cognitive reading processes which develop the children’s technical and comprehension skills, and experiences which foster a lifelong love of reading.
Our Reading curriculum is delivered through synthetic phonics, our book-based English curriculum, guided reading, home reading, reading across the curriculum, regular opportunities for independent reading and hearing quality texts read aloud every day. All of these are essential components as they offer the range of opportunities needed to develop fluent, enthusiastic and critical readers.
Early Reading and Phonics
Synthetic phonics is the first formal method for the teaching of reading that we use as it provides the foundations required to become a fluent reader. We understand that once children are able to decode fluently, the teaching of comprehension is quicker and more effective as they are able to focus all of their attention to understanding what they read. Daily, fast paced, highly interactive and challenging lessons ensure effective learning and progress.
We use the Wandle scheme to teach our children the core skills of segmenting and blending and to start them on their ‘reading journey’. We want our children’s experience of Phonics to be immersive and connected, so, our book based Writing curriculum has been resequenced so that in Reception,Year 1 and Year 2, children are taught the graphemes and their corresponding phonemes and they area able to resist these through our book-based Literacy Curriculum
Children in Reception and Year 1 have a daily Phonics session. Our Phonics lessons follow the same format each time, with this repetition helping to embed the learning. The lesson progression goes as follows:
Hear the sound
Read the sound
Review previous sounds
Read the words (looking at decodable words as well as practising sight words)
Spell with Fred Fingers
In Reception, we work to secure up to Phase 4 of Letters and Sounds. We also regularly identify any graphemes that the children are finding difficult and revisit them, and it is this consolidation that ensures that children’s foundations are firm.
Children who are identified as not being on track to pass the phonics screening check receive additional intervention support, including active phonics sessions and 1:1 or small group sessions focused on their individual areas of need.
In Year 2, children who did not pass the phonics screening check continue to receive daily phonics lessons alongside the Year 1 children. Those Year 2 children who pass the Phonics screening check and are secure with their sounds move onto a spelling-focused Phonics session. This involves them using their Phonics knowledge to write dictated sentences.
If a child still needs extra Phonics support in KS2, they join the KS1 lessons as a helper, as well as receiving additional intervention support. KS2 staff receive phonics training, ensuring that they have a secure understanding of how Phonics has been taught to the children so that they are able to mirror KS1 pedagogy to support children in their day-to-day lessons.
All children in Foundation Stage and Key Stage One receive one-to-one reading; the frequency of which is determined by their needs. In these sessions and for their home reading, children read two books: one phonically levelled text and one benchmarked book at their decodability level to ensure that their comprehension skills are also developed.
The reading of common exception words is threaded through phonics sessions and shared and guided reading. To allow for further consolidation, these words are sent home with children to ensure continuous practise.
Children’s progress in phonics is continually reviewed through periodic phonic assessments and evidence from their reading and writing. Through these, teachers identify the graphemes that need to be addressed which then informs groupings. In June, the national Phonics Screening Check is undertaken to confirm that the children have learned to decode to an age appropriate standard and determines what level of provision they will require the following year. In Key Stage One, regular assessment of the children’s decoding and comprehension is undertaken through PM Benchmarking.