Phonics - Together We Learn
Structure of Phonics Teaching at Fordingbridge Federation
At our school, we have built a systematic synthetic ‘phonics programme’ around 'Letters and Sounds' that offers support, guidance, resources and training for all of our staff. We have developed our resources/planning around the six phases outlined in Letters and Sounds whilst also incorporating the programme of study for phonics and spelling outlined in the National Curriculum. Our reading books have been aligned with the phonics phases whilst also retaining their colour bandings to support progression within reading.
What is Phonics?
Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skillfully. 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. Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read.
It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7. Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment.
Progression within Phonics
The Letters and Sounds scheme is based on six phases and below are details of each one. We regularly assess all children to ensure they are on track and progressing through these phases appropriately and in line with their abilities and needs.
In this phase children learn to recognise sounds, begin to identify them around them and also develop their speaking and listening skills. The emphasis is to get children attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.
Encourage your child to recognise sounds around them e.g. telephone, listening to the rain or wind, making animal noises, playing instruments, guessing the source of the sound (e.g. what makes the ‘bzzzzzz’ sound? A bee.)
In Phase 2, letters and their sounds are introduced one at a time. A set of letters is taught each week, in the following sequence:
Set 1: s, a, t, p
Set 2: i, n, m, d
Set 3: g, o, c, k
Set 4: ck, e, u, r
Set 5: h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss
The children will begin to learn to blend and segment to help begin reading and spelling. This will begin with simple words e.g. at, sat, pat, pin.
Phase 2 and Phase 3 Sound Mat
By Phase 3 children will be able to blend and segment words taught with letters in Phase 2. Children will be taught a combination of constant and vowel digraphs and trigraphs.
Set 6: j, v, w, x
Set 7: y, z, zz, qu
Consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng
Vowel digraphs: ai, ee, igh, oa, oo (book), oo (boot), ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er
Phase 2 & 3 Actions and Sounds Videos
This phase consolidates phases 1, 2 and 3. Children will be able to make links between phonemes and graphemes with confidence. They will blend phonemes to read CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words and segment CVC words for spelling.
In this phase children will broaden their knowledge of letters and sounds. They will learn new graphemes and alternative pronunciations for these and graphemes they already know. They also learn about the split digraphs.
New graphemes for Reading: ay, ou, ie, ea, oy, ir, ue, aw, wh, ph, ew, oe, au,
Split digraphs: a_e, e_e, i_e, o_e, u_e
Phase 5 Sound Mat
Phase 2, 3 and Phase 5 Sound Mat
During this phase children become fluent readers and increasingly accurate spellers. This phase covers spellings and learning rules for spelling alternatives and homophones.
Children look at syllables, base words, analogy and mnemonics as aids to spelling correctly. Children learn to add a range of suffixes to words following spelling rules.
Suffixes: - ful, -ly, -y, -ment, -ness, -ing, -ed, -s, -es, -est, -er, -tion
Alternative Sounds (the same letter (grapheme) can represent more than one sound (phoneme)):
fin/find, hot/cold, cat/cent, got/giant, but/put, cow/blow, tie/field, eat/bread, farmer/her, hat/what, yes/by/very, chin/school/chef, out/shoulder/could/you.
Alternative Sound Mats
In each phase, children are also introduced to tricky words. These are the words that are irregular and that can’t be read usually the ‘normal’ decoding and blending taught. This means that phonics cannot be applied to the reading and spelling of these words. All children should be able to read and spell these words independently by the end of Year 1.
Common Exception Words
Children will also be taught what are now referred to as 'common exception words' (sometimes called tricky words). These are words commonly found in the English language, but which do not follow the phonic rules that have been taught so far. All children should be able to read and spell these words independently.
Phonics Screening Check
What is the Phonics Screening Check?
The phonics screening check is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonics knowledge. It helps the school confirm whether your child has made the expected progress.
What are ‘non/pseudo-words’?
The check will contain a mix of real words and ‘non-words’ or ‘pseudo-words’ (or ‘nonsense/alien words’). Children will be told before the check that there will be non-words that he or she will not have seen before. Many children will be familiar with this because many schools already use ‘non-words’ when they teach phonics. Non-words are important to include because words such as ‘vap’ or ‘jound’ are new to all children. Children cannot read the non-words by using their memory or vocabulary; they have to use their decoding skills. This is a fair way to assess their ability to decode.
After the check
The school will tell you about your child’s progress in phonics and how he or she has done in the screening check at the end of Year 1.
If your child has found the check difficult, your child’s school should also tell you what support they have put in place to help him or her improve. You might like to ask how you can support your child to take the next step in reading.
Children who have not met the standard in Year 1 will retake the check in Year 2. All children are individuals and develop at different rates. The screening check ensures that teachers understand which children need extra help with phonic decoding.