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English - Phonics

Definition

Phonics is the learning and using of letter sounds or phonemes (single graphemes, diagraphs and trigraphs) to read and spell words so that we can become confident readers and writers.

Intent

We are committed to the systematic consistent teaching of phonics for all children so that they can enjoy becoming fluent confident readers and writers experiencing the opportunities and worlds that this opens up to them.

Implementation

We begin teaching Phonics in Nursery by exploring environmental sounds, rhymes and songs. We play with initial sounds in familiar words such as M… Mummy, D…. daddy, alliteration such as big bus, matching and sorting initial sound objects and playing games with words to support sound acquisition. We also practise orally blending and segmenting words through games and activities. By this we mean a teacher saying the sounds in a word eg d-o-g and then children blending them together to hear and understand the word and children segmenting the word themselves eg: cat is c-a-t. This is a vital stepping-stone for children to master in preparation for using their sounds for reading and spelling. We begin to introduce the ‘graphemes’ (letters to represent sounds) when children become secure with the above and begin to show an interest the letter shapes.

The order is which we introduce the phonemes (sounds) and grapheme correspondence was initially based upon the governments Letters and Sounds phases which orders the phonemes in to groups. The most commonly used single letter sounds being taught first so that children can use the sounds to read and spell simple words as soon as they have learnt the first 5 phonemes. We use the speech and language therapist recommended Cued Articulation actions to support children with pronunciation and recall of sounds.

Once all single sounds are taught we begin teaching diagraphs (and a trigraph) to represent the other 44 phonemes children need to learn. Children practise blending these for reading and segmenting for spelling words and simple sentences, practising and applying what they have learnt in their daily lessons and during individual or group reading.

When children have mastered using the 44 sounds in cvc words (words made up of 3 sounds) we move children on to reading longer words that contain 4 of more sounds eg: belt (b-e-l-t), charming (ch-ar-m-i-ng) and polysyllabic words (words with two or more syllables) eg: shampoo (sham-poo/sh-a-m-p-oo).

At the start of Year 1 we secure all the above before teaching alternative spellings and pronunciations eg: ai/ay/ea/ey/eigh/a_e  are all used to represent the ‘ai’ phoneme in words like rain/stay/break/obey/eight/cake/. Each phoneme/alternative grapheme has a “ditty” to aid recall.

 The expectation for children by the end of Year 1 is for the above to be fully embedded so that they can confidently read a range of real and nonsense words utilising their phonic knowledge and pass the phonics screening undertaken by all Year 1 children.

In Year 2 we continue to embed the use of phonics when reading and spelling new words as well as teach spelling using the same spelling scheme as the rest of the school.

Any children whose phonics skills are not secure and embedded by the end of KS1 will receive phonic interventions tailored to their individual needs. They will have phonics targets on their Individual Education Plan and work to quickly fill gaps in their phonics knowledge at embed their knowledge. These inventions include but are not exclusive to: 5 min box, small group phonic catch up, Short impact target groups within class, 1:1 daily reading and teacher led writing groups.

Children joining the school from other schools including from abroad and those with English as additional language will be assessed using our school progressive assessments. This will allow us to meet the child precisely where they are in their phonic journey and target the child’s phonic learning quickly and swift filling and closing any gaps that may be present.

Our decodable reading scheme correlates to the order in which we teach phonics and children will receive books that match their phonic knowledge. We use regular mini assessments with the reading scheme so children move rapidly through the books or gaps are quickly identified and filled so children can move on. ‘Tricky words’ (common exception words) are taught in the order they appear in the reading scheme so children will not come across any words that they cannot decode or have learnt in their reading books (they are colour coded so they can be practised at home or in school as a set). As children develop fluency, the texts develop in complexity and we increase the range of books children have access too including “real” picture and then chapter books.

How do we teach our subject?

Phonics is taught discreetly daily across Reception and Year 1. Discreet teaching of phonics continues into the Autumn Term in Year 2 for most children moving to small group teaching depending on the learning needs of the cohort.

All discreet lessons are taught using the “Southville Structure” which consists of 7 parts:

1: Revise previously taught phonemes/graphemes

2: Reading words using known sounds

3: Teach New Phoneme/Grapheme correspondence

4: Sound talk (with new sound)

5: Read words (with new sound)

6: Read sentences (with new and previously known sounds or tricky words)

7: Spell words (with new sound)

To ensure the phonics taught in our discreet lessons is practised, it is embedded into all teaching of reading and writing in English lessons including whole class and group activities.

Every child reads individually at least once a week which is an opportunity to target their individual phonic gaps and practise exactly what they need to move them forward with their reading.

Provision for HA and LA

As children read individually, they move through the reading scheme at their own pace. Children who need to practise specific phonemes can spend longer doing so where as others can move through the scheme at a quicker pace and a range of books can extend an challenge more able children. When children are secure in their phonic knowledge read a range of book banded books up to Year 2 Deepening before accessing the accelerated reader program.

Through regular, consistent assessment we can quickly identify gaps in children’s learning and provide interventions to address these. We have a number of interventions in place and adapt these to the needs of the children. These include Pre-Teaching, 5 min box, small group phonic catch up, Short impact target groups within class, 1:1 daily reading and teacher led writing groups.  Children with SEN receive targeted support led by their individual education plan.

We are working with the English Hub who have recognised our fidelity to the school’s Systematic, Synthetic Phonics programme and the established decodable reading books and continual assessment procedures in place. We are working to establish the use of a government validated phonics scheme utilising the established strengths in our existing phonics teaching.

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