At The Holy Spirit Primary School, we teach Systematic Synthetic phonics to support children in learning to read and write. Children will progress from learning the sounds and the letters that represent them (graphemes), to using and applying this knowledge to read and write words and sentences. We recognise the value and impact of good phonics teaching on children learning to read and write across the breadth and depth of the curriculum. Children are exposed to a wide variety of books and texts to encourage their love of reading for knowledge and pleasure. During literacy lessons and across the curriculum, we encourage children to apply their phonic knowledge to read and write. In Early Years, children are given the opportunity to develop their mark making into early writing through setting exciting contexts for writing for a purpose.
We support children's phonological development by:
- Teaching daily phonic sessions
- Promoting Phonics as the main tool to help children decode words when reading and spelling
- Encouraging children to use and apply their phonic knowledge in independent and guided work in reading and writing sessions.
Currently, we are using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Scheme of Work to support the teaching of phonics lessons, including a four-part lesson, which ensures that old sounds are revisited, new sounds are taught and that children apply their learning through games and activities around reading and writing.
In YR, children are expected to complete Phase 1 on average by the end of September, Phase 2 by the middle of November, Phase 3 by the end of Spring 1 and Phase 4 by the end of Spring 2.
In Y1, children revisit the main teaching points of Phase 4 in the first few weeks in September, after which they begin Phase 5, lasting 26 weeks and ensuring that Phase 5 is completed by the end of April at the latest. This allows at least 3 weeks of revision prior to the Phonics check in early June.
Similarly, in Year 2, children will revisit Phase 5 in the first few weeks in September, after which they begin Phase 6, lasting 24 weeks and ensuring that Phase 6 is completed by the end of April. Children in Year 3 & 4, who have not completed the phonics programme, continue with Phase 6 (the spelling programme).
At The Holy Spirit, a whole school approach has been adopted using the Letters and Sounds framework, where the correct technical language of phonics is used from Reception to help children progress through Key Stage One.
Phoneme – sound
Grapheme – letters that represent sounds
Digraphs – a two-letter grapheme
Trigraphs - a three-letter grapheme
Blending - when children merge the sounds together to hear the word
Segmenting - to break up a word into sounds
Children will be taught to recognise and write the letter in block letters first, before using cursive script in Year 1.
We use dots (.), dashes (_) and holding hands( ͜ ) to distinguish between the different graphemes/diagraphs/trigraphs within words when reading, and use ‘Fred Fingers’ to segment the sounds when spelling. For longer or compound words, children are encouraged to chunk the words first and use ‘snowballing’ (adding sounds gradually – blending, adding the next sound to the blended cluster and blend again etc.)
Due to the increasing number of children, experiencing Speech and Language difficulties on entering Reception, the main focus for the first 4 weeks of Reception, at least, is on developing excellent phonological awareness through Phase 1. We are reinforcing phonological skills within our daily sessions, through shared reading, speaking and listening activities in continuous provision, too.
In Reception, all children are taught the Phonic phases 1, 2 and 3 as a whole class, through ‘Quality First Teaching’, however additional 'catch up' sessions are planned for children who are not working at the expected level for their age-appropriate phase, i.e. recognising 75% of the sounds and reading 75% of the words in the age-appropriate phase.
All EYFS and KS1 children, have a daily phonics session of 25 minutes, sometimes twice daily (KS1), where children are grouped according to their phonic skills and are taught in distinct phonic phase groups (i.e. Phase 2, Phase 3 etc.)
At the beginning of every year, we offer a Phonics workshop to parents, aiming to develop their subject knowledge in phonics and helping them in supporting their child in phonics, reading and writing activities - at home.
Regular assessments are carried out at the end of each Phonics phase to assess children’s knowledge, to determine appropriate groupings and to track progress. Children with SEN, are given additional adult support, sometimes 1:1, to develop their phonic skills, within the age-related group they are placed in. Gifted and talented children are identified and work in a smaller group, given opportunities to deepen their skills through extra and more complex activities. Alternatively, they access teaching and learning in the next Phonics Phase, where possible.
In Year 1 children take part in the National Phonics Screening Check. This assessment gathers information on the children ability to blend and segment decodable words to read, and their recognition of pseudo (not real) words. We aim to work towards achieving or surpassing the National Standard pass rate of 82% for 2019 through continuous support and CPD offered to all staff involved in the delivery of Phonics. Children, who do not pass the Phonics Screening Check in Year 1, have the opportunity to repeat the check in Year 2. We acknowledge that for most children, regular Synthetic Phonics lessons are sufficient enough to acquire the skills of reading and writing, but some children require a different approach, in addition. For those children, teachers plan additional phonic sessions and/or other interventions to meet their needs, e.g. working through the online intervention program ‘IDL Cloud’.
Phonics lessons are observed termly through lesson observations and learning walks. SMT provide staff with valuable feedback, which in turn enhances their effectiveness as phonics leads.
Below you will find links to documents and some videos regarding Phonics.