At Scargill Infant School we follow the DfE’s and Sounds programme of study
for teaching phonics. This is a proven approach used by many schools nationally.
What is Phonics?
Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. They are taught how to: recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes; identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make - such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’; and blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word. Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read. Both Ofsted and the government recognise the teaching of phonics as the most important tool to enable fluent reading.
How do we teach Phonics?
At Scargill Infant School all children have a daily phonics lessons. In Reception, phonics lessons are taught in the morning and they are approximately 15 minutes long. Children are introduced to the sounds letters make following a set sequence which is fun and child centred. Once children have a good understanding of initial letter sounds they are introduced to digraphs, which is blending sounds to make simple words. In Year 1 and Year 2 phonics lessons are taught daily and they are approximately 20-25 minutes, following the Letters and Sound approach. The sessions are fast, fun and multi-sensory. Each session follows this sequence:
The teacher will explain the learning for the day
Revisit and Review:
A quick fire game is played to practise using the previous taught sounds
A new phoneme/grapheme or new skill is taught.
The children play fast, fun games to practise the new learning.
The children will apply what they have learned through reading and writing.
Pupils practice what they have learnt in other lessons, including English, Guided Reading, handwriting and spelling sessions. The more opportunities provided for this, the better the learning outcomes.
What Resources do we use?
Letters and Sounds is published by the DfE and is available to all schools free of charge. We set it in a language rich curriculum which develops speaking, listening, reading and writing skills alongside phonics. Children will learn using all their senses, e.g. singing, dancing, acting, magnetic letters, making shapes in the air, looking at pictures, puppets, playing games, using computers, making sounds, forming letters through messy play. Children then learn to say and write the sounds using sound cards, picture/word cards, alliteration sentences, rhyming sentences and progression posters.
- Our Phonics Progression from Reception through to Year 2:
- Phase 1(Nursery/Reception) – Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme. Alliteration, voice sounds and oral blending and segmenting.
- Phase 2 (Reception/Year 1) – Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.
- Phase 3 (Year 1) – The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, 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 (Year 1) – 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 (Year1/Year 2) – Now we move on to the “complex code”. Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know
- Phase 6 (Year 2) – Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.
- What is the phonics screening check?
- The phonics screening check takes place in June for Year 1 children and for those in Year 2 who did not achieve the pass mark in Year 1. It is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonic knowledge. It helps the school confirm your child has made the expected progress.
- As well as the screening tests, we assess pupils progress after each lesson to plan our nest steps for the pupils.
- Every four weeks, we review the stage the pupil is at and when they are ready, move them to the next stage.
- The Head of School regularly monitor teaching. Once a term, the Trust carries out a learning walk to monitor the teaching of phonics.
- Staff Training
- The Hornchurch Academy Trust has just reviewed its phonics training programmes.
- All teachers receive an annual reminder session for teaching phonics.
- Where teachers are new to the school or teaching phonics, they receive training focussed on their needs.
- What if phonics is not working:
Sometimes, in some classrooms or for some children, phonics does not work as well or as quickly as it can do. We acknowledge that there are different types of learners which is why we vary our approaches to teaching phonics. Strategies we use to help pupils who find phonics difficult:
- Go back over previous learning to make sure there are no gaps.
- Add short daily sessions with lots of repetition as extra practice.
- Ensure that the children are taught how to apply what they have been taught, giving confidence to tackle unfamiliar words.
- Outside of phonics sessions, give pupils many opportunities to sound out words.
- Use repetition, using rhymes and physical prompts children can develop their phonics knowledge.
- Transition from Year 2 to Year 3:
- At the end of Y1, pupils take the phonics check. If this shows they need additional support, they are given more focussed teaching and repeat the check at the end of Y2.
- Most pupils then make the standard and are ready for junior school.
- If they are not ready, we liaise with the Junior school, who continue teaching phonics as long as required to support their reading.
- All other children transfer with information about their stage of reading and what they need to learn next.
- Y2 and Y3 teachers meet regularly to support transition.
- Further Information for parents:
- DfE links
- Helping your child at home: