At St. Teresa’s RC Primary School, we are passionate about ensuring all children have the opportunities to become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We believe that phonics provides the foundations of learning to make the development into fluent reading and writing easier.
Phonics at St. Teresa’s follow the Department of Education approved document “Letters and Sounds”. This allows our phonics teaching and learning to be progressive from Nursery up to Year 2 as well as allowing children’s listening and speaking skills to develop.
At St. Teresa’s, children are taught phonics using a systematic daily phonics programme. It maps out the order in which the individual speech sounds and the letter/s that represent them will be introduced and learned. These phonics lessons are structured so that they revisit what children have already learned as well as introducing new learning.
This organised approach continues over time with children reading more and more words as new letters and their sounds are introduced. With practice, the skills of word recognition and blending become speedy and automatic and only used when needed. For example, even as expert readers we do call on our phonics skills and knowledge when we come across an unfamiliar word.
In EYFS and KS1, Phonics is taught through whole class teaching input and small group activities, using the ‘Supersonic Phonic Friends’ scheme together with elements of the ‘Jolly Phonics’ scheme. Phonics lessons are taught in a multi-sensory way to embed learning and to adapt to children’s different learning styles.
We use Songbirds phonics reading books alongside our reading scheme books and we also use Collins phonics e-books.
Through phonics children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read words.
There are around 44 different speech sounds in English. Phonics for reading is made up of two elements:
- The knowledge– knowing how the speech sounds (known as phonemes) in words we say are represented in written form by a letter or letters. For example, the word jam has 3 separate speech sounds /j/ /a/ /m/; the word boat has 3 separate speech sounds /b/ /oa/ /t/. A written letter or combination of letters is known as a grapheme.
- The skills– being able to recognise the separate speech sounds represented by the graphemes and say them and blend them together in order, to pronounce a whole word.
There are six phases within the Letters and Sounds programme: –
- Phase 1 – Activities are divided into seven aspects. Environmental Sounds, Instrumental Sounds, Body Sounds, Rhythm and Rhyme, Alliteration, Voice Sounds and finally Oral Blending and Segmenting.
- Phase 2 – Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting sounds into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.
- Phase 3 – The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as “ch”, “oo” and “th” representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the “simple code”, i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.
- Phase 4 – No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.
- Phase 5 – Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.
- Phase 6 – Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes.
Attainment in phonics is measured by the National Phonics Screening Check at the end of year 1. Results are reported to parents in their child’s annual report. Children that do not pass in year 1 will re-take the screening check in year 2.
Assessment is done throughout the year by the phonics co-ordinator and class teachers using phonics tracking sheets and past phonics screeners. The phonics co-ordinator uses the assessments to inform groupings, planning and interventions.
For children that need further support with phonics in year 2 and 3, we run the intervention ‘Fast Track Phonics’. This is a 14 week support programme designed to address the gaps in learning and is run alongside the daily phonics sessions. The phonics co-ordinator runs this intervention, as well as teaching phonics lessons in EYFS and KS1. This gives her a good overview on the phonics progression throughout the key stages. An experienced phonics teacher also comes in once a week to support children who need extra support with phonics in year 1 and 2.
For children who need a more intensive one to one programme of support and who have been identified as special needs we use ‘Dyslexikit’ which is used for children who are struggling with reading and spelling.