We believe Phonics is one of the key ingredients when developing our children's ability to be life-long readers and, because of this, it is prioritised in both Early Years and Key Stage 1. It is our belief that Phonics gives the majority of children the vital tools that they can use to become fluent, confident and engaged readers. We want all of the children that engage with our Phonics programme to have the key skills of segmenting and blending words whilst also developing a solid understanding of grapheme-phoneme correspondences. We aim for our Phonics teaching to link closely with the vast range of phonetically-decodable books that we have available for our pupils so that the children are able to practice both in and out of school.
At Saviour, we teach reading with a ‘phonics first’ approach. We follow the First Class Phonics scheme of work which lays out a clear structure to the teaching of Phonics, breaking learning down into manageable steps for children, whilst regularly recapping previous learning.
All children in our Early Years and Key Stage 1 provision have daily, targeted Phonics sessions where they will begin by revisiting previous phonemes and graphemes taught. Next, they will be introduced to new letters and sounds which they will then practice and apply in a writing context by the end of the session. Over the ensuing weeks, all children would recap the learning that had been done. The scheme of work progresses as follows:
- In Nursery, children will be working on Phase 1 of the First Class Phonics scheme. They begin by focusing on general sound discrimination, learning to distinguish environmental sounds, exploring instrumental sounds and body percussion. They also explore rhythm and rhyme, alliteration and voice sounds.
- In Reception, we continue to build on the children’s development in Phonics and, once they are ready, phase 2 is introduced. During phase 2, children use the common consonants and vowels for segmenting and blending CVC words and they become more familiar with grapheme-phoneme correspondences. Phase 3 and 4 are later introduced (CCVC, CVCC, VCC, CVC) using the graphemes taught in phase 2. Letter names are introduced alongside letter sounds as we begin to introduce digraphs. Children are also taught the alphabet song and are introduced to both lower and upper case letters simultaneously.
- In Key Stage 1, phonics teaching is continued in daily, focused sessions and children continue to learn new grapheme-phoneme correspondences and practise and apply these each day.
- During Year 2, daily phonics teaching continues and children continue to learn, re-visit, practise and apply grapheme-phoneme correspondences in reading and writing. They will explore how, often, there a multiple graphemes that will represent a phoneme and techniques on how to select the correct spelling. Alongside this, children also begin to learn further spelling patterns and rules, for example how we add prefixes and suffixes to root words where changes to the root are required.
- Throughout Key Stage 2, some children may still require additional support in developing their phonic knowledge and this often takes the form of small group interventions in addition to quality first teaching. We see reading as an invaluable cog when exploring the rest of the curriculum so we place an extremely high importance on the support children get in these Phonic sessions.
Our primary aim is for our children to be fluent, confident and engaged readers by the end of Key Stage 1. All our staff who are involved with the teaching of Phonics regularly assess the progress of our children in accordance with this end goal. Assessment comes in a variety of different forms: in the 'revisit' section of the Phonics session, teachers will be able to assess which letters and sounds children are more (and less) confident at recalling; in the 'apply' part of the Phonics session, teachers can see whether children are able to apply their learning in a written context; in reading sessions (both individual and guided), teachers will be able to assess whether children are reading the sounds being taught with increased fluency.
Children are also involved in a statutory Phonics assessment. During the Summer term of Year 1, children’s phonic knowledge is assessed using the national phonics screening check. During this assessment, children work individually alongside a member of staff with whom they are familiar. They are required to segment and blend a range of ‘real’ and ‘alien’ words. Children will already be familiar with this kind of activity from their daily phonics sessions. Results of this screening check are shared with parents in the child’s Summer report and additional support will continue to be in place for those children who have struggled to meet the requirements of the check. For those children who are not yet secure in their phonic knowledge, a re-check is administered in the Summer term of Year 2. We will also use the KS1 Reading test as an indicator of the success of our Phonics scheme as this will, amongst other areas, reflect the fluency and understanding of our children's reading.
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