At St Mary & St Margaret’s CE Primary School we deliver a daily phonics lesson throughout Foundation Key Stage and Key Stage One using the Letters & Sounds scheme. High quality phonic learning is the prime approach in learning to decode (to read) and encode (to write/spell) print. Our phonic teaching is set within a broad and rich language curriculum that takes full account of developing all aspects of language. Therefore the teaching of phonics, albeit vital in children’s development, does not constitute our whole language provision. The ultimate goal of teaching phonics is the step up to automatic word recognition. Daily lessons from Reception to Year 2 are made up of a review of previous learning, an aspect of teaching something new, an opportunity to practise what has been taught and then time to apply it. Teachers make daily assessment notes about how well the children have understood their learning in each lesson.
As children move into Key Stage 2 some may need to carry on with phonic learning as part of their Guided Reading lessons. If they are working comfortably at Phase 6 on entry to Year 3 then they will begin to use the Support for Spelling scheme to continue their learning.
In Nursery children work through Phase One; this falls largely within the Communication and Language Area of Learning. In particular it supports Listening and Attention and Speaking strands. It will support linking sounds and letters in the order in which they occur in words, and naming and sounding the letters of the alphabet. Activities in Phase 1 are mostly adult led and intend to teach important basic elements, such as oral blending and segmenting of familiar words.
Throughout Foundation Stage high quality play activities offer lots of opportunities to enrich children’s language skills across all areas of learning and to link them with learning of Letters & Sounds.
In Reception children are assessed to ascertain their recognition of letter sounds in order to group and teach according to different abilities. Children learn Phases 2, 3 & 4 of Letters & Sounds. The purpose of Phase 2 is to teach at least 19 letters and to move children from oral blending and segmentation to applying these skills with letters. They will also begin to learn High Frequency ‘tricky’ words. By the end of Phase 2 children are able to read and spell VC (vowel-consonant, e.g. at/in) and CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant, e.g. cat/pin) words using magnetic letters or by writing them; they will also have been introduced to reading captions and blending two-syllable words. The purpose of Phase 3 is to teach another 25 graphemes, most of which comprise two letters so that children can represent each of the 42 phonemes by a grapheme. They will continue to practise CVC blending and segmentation and apply their knowledge to reading and spelling words and captions. They will also learn letter names and further High Frequency words. In Phase 4 children consolidate their knowledge of graphemes in reading and spelling words containing adjacent consonants and polysyllabic words. Each week children take home a task relating to their learning in phonics.
In Year One children work through Phase 5 where they broaden their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and spelling. They learn new graphemes and alternative pronunciations where relevant. Children subsequently become quicker at recognising graphemes of more than one letter in words and blending the phonemes they represent. When spelling words children learn to choose the appropriate graphemes to represent phonemes and begin to build word-specific knowledge of the spelling of words. Each week words are sent home to learn to spell that contain the graphemes that have been learnt in class that week.
In Year 2 children work through Phase 6, where they become more fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers. At this stage children read longer and less familiar texts independently and with increasing fluency. The shift from ‘learning to read’ and ‘reading to learn’ takes place and children read for information and for pleasure. Throughout this phase learning about spelling continues and helps children understand more about the structure of words and consolidate their knowledge of Grapheme Phoneme Correspondences (GPCs).
From an early age children are also encouraged to read with phrasing and fluency, and to take account of punctuation to aid meaning. As children read with growing independence they will engage with and respond to texts; they will choose and begin to critically evaluate texts. In order to develop a love of reading we believe it is vital that children have opportunities to listen to experienced readers reading aloud.