Phonics is one of the many skills needed to become a reader and writer. We aim to give children the best possible start on their reading/writing journey by teaching them the essential phonological/phonemic skills and knowledge to decode and encode (spell) words independently from the outset. At the point of reading/writing, children will use phonics as their first strategy to read and spell unknown words until it is embedded and automatic for them. We recognise that the development of spoken language and the enjoyment and comprehension of quality literature go hand in hand to develop a lifelong love of reading and aim to nurture and develop these attributes alongside the phonics program.
Our policy sets out the means by which we ensure consistency and a systematic approach to the teaching and learning of synthetic phonics, as the prime method by which children learn to read and spell independently, automatically and confidently in the first years of their schooling. It aims to reinforce our high expectations for pupil progress. We follow the advice in ‘Letters and Sounds’ and English Appendix 1: Spelling (National curriculum 2014).
- Learn the skills of blending and segmenting as a first priority as they are introduced to the grapheme/phoneme correspondences for reading and spelling. This ensures that from the outset children are able to read and spell simple CVC’s with the GPC’s they know.
- Be reading with increasing automaticity by the age of 6.
- apply their phonic knowledge in the context of reading and spelling in the wider curriculum and understand how and when to do this.
- Develop their spoken language and comprehension simultaneously as they are learning phonics in the first years of school.
- Use phonics as their first strategy to decode and encode unknown words until a degree of fluency is reached.
2. Teaching Methods
A discreet session of at least 20 minutes daily is given to the teaching of high quality, systematic synthetic phonics. Phonics sessions are structured in the same way each day and build in strong consistent and familiar routines. A multi sensory approach to teaching and learning will be used in phonics sessions designed to secure essential phonic knowledge and skills.
Holywell has a bespoke phonics program that has been tailored to the needs of the children at our school, alongside this is a corresponding assessment booklet that goes from Phase1 – 6 of the Letters and Sounds document. We use the programme ‘Letters and Sounds’ to ensure a consistent system is followed, and that learning can be tracked and monitored within the systematic framework.
Blending and segmenting. Oral blending and segmenting are taught first before being applied to reading and writing. Children are taught that phonemes are blended in order from left to right, ‘all through the word’ for reading. They are also taught how words are segmented into phonemes for spelling. These skills are taught throughout each Phase of Letters and Sounds so that as children meet more complex words or grapheme phoneme correspondences they are able to tackle them with confidence.
Common Exception Words
Children are taught high frequency words that do not conform completely to grapheme-phoneme correspondence rules. We call these ‘tricky’ words. Children are specifically taught the ‘tricky’ part of the word and strategies to remember this. They are taught to apply their knowledge of these words in reading and writing. The words are taken from phases 2 to 5 of Letters and Sounds in addition to those listed in the NC Appendix 1.
4. Assessment and tracking.
Children in Nursery are working towards becoming secure in Phase 1 of letters and sounds – phonological awareness and oral blending and segmenting. If appropriate, the children will start to become familiar with some grapheme-phoneme correspondences through a playful and multisensory approach using songs, actions and stories whilst they continue to learn to sequence, blend and segment sounds orally.
Children in Reception have a discreet phonics session daily and are expected to secure phase 4 of letters and sounds as a typical benchmark by the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Key Stage One
In Year One, children secure the content in Appendix 1 (Spelling) of the National Curriculum and the Phase 5 content of Letters and Sounds. At the end of Year One, children complete the Year One Phonics Screening Check, the results of which are a summative assessment of each child’s ability to read/decode. During the spring term, children will undertake a ‘mock’ screening to identify any specific needs for intervention sessions. This also applies to any children in Year 2 who did not meet the required standard in Year 1.
Additionally, until children have secured phase 5 and are working within phase 6 of Letters and Sounds, they are tracked against their developing knowledge of each phase of Letters and Sounds using the school bespoke assessment booklet.
Key Stage 2
Where children are meeting age related expectations when entering Key Stage 2, the main focus of their learning is spelling.
Children who have not met expectations in their phonics screening by the end of Key Stage One are monitored through the SEN policy and provision is made for them to be able to access an alternative reading programme such as ‘Rapid reading’ or ‘Rapid Phonics’ reading program.
Monitoring and evaluation
The phonics co-ordinator will oversee teacher’s assessments of all pupils and ensure that children receive intervention, catch up/accelerated learning where appropriate and needed. Monitoring is carried out using assessment evidence to generate data which provides a picture of what the needs for intervention and support or acceleration are, and the impact of teaching and learning.