Foundation Stage and KS1
The National Curriculum for reading is split into two parts: word reading and comprehension. The teaching of phonics is central to developing early reading skills. Therefore, in foundation stage and key stage one children take part in daily thirty minute phonics lessons.
How is phonics taught?
At Duston Eldean Primary School, we have recently invested in a new phonics programme called ‘Essential Letters and Sounds.’ The introduction of the programme has allowed teachers and practitioners to become more consistent in their approach to the teaching of phonics. The programme is rigorous and coordinates well with our previous scheme ‘Letters and Sounds’. This has enabled a smooth and successful transition from one teaching scheme to the other.
When your child starts school, they will begin learning letter sounds such as, ’c’ for ’cat’ and ’d’ for dog. E.L.S. teaches children to read using a systematic, synthetic phonics approach. The programme is rich in talk and story, where children experience the joy of books and language whilst rapidly acquiring the skills to become fluent, independent readers and writers. Each sound (phoneme) is taught using a rhyme with an accompanying picture to ensure that children can learn. Children then hear this sound in the context of a word, and a picture and/or definition is given to support their understanding. Practice and repetition are key.
There are forty-four sounds within the programme including common sounds that use two or three letters e.g. ‘sh’ (a digraph) and ‘igh’ (a trigraph). They are not taught in alphabetical order but in a way that allows the children to read many words as quickly as possible. The first 6 sounds are s, a, t, p, i, n, and are taught early in the first term of Early Years Foundation Stage.
Throughout terms one and two, we run a number of workshops for parents of children in our early years, to help parents understand how to best support your child with reading, writing and phonics at home. We strongly encourage parents to attend these sessions as feedback from previous year groups has been very positive and parents have found the sessions to be very informative.
Children are provided with reading material which includes decodable texts that match exactly where our children are on their reading journey. They also have access to online reading material as an extra resource to help the children to build their understanding of sounds and confidence provided by our subscription to ‘Oxford Owl’.
Phonics Phase One
In phase one, we develop children’s listening and speaking skills. This phase is for children to explore and experiment with different sounds. Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.
Phonics Phase Two
In phase two, we teach nineteen letter sounds with mnemonics and actions in foundation stage. Children learn that words are constructed from phonemes which they can then start putting together to read and spell simple words and captions. Children will be encouraged to use their arms to work like a robot to help them to identify every sound in CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words and then place their hands together to support the blending process of sounds into words.
We introduce children to lots of new vocabulary such as phoneme, grapheme, blending and segmenting to support the reading development process.
Blending is drawing individual sounds together to pronounce a word e.g. h-a-t.
Segmenting is where we split up a word into its individual phonemes/sounds to spell it. For example, the word ‘cat’ has three phonemes c/a/t.
Phonics Phase Three
In phase three, we teach another twenty-five graphemes most comprising of two letters (e.g sh). By the end of this phase, children should be able to represent forty-four sounds by identifying the letter sounds. We continue to focus on reading captions, sentences, and questions.
Phonics Phase Four
In phase four, no new sounds are taught. This phase consolidates the children’s prior knowledge of sounds in reading and spelling words. It allows teachers to help children to retrieve prior learning from their long-term memory and build on their knowledge to read and write new, more challenging words such as two syllable words e.g. tonight, rooftop, boatman. Phases one to four, including the introduction to phase five phonics are taught within the foundation stage year.
Phonics Phase Five
In year one, this phase enables children to broaden their knowledge of phonemes (for reading) and graphemes (for spelling). They will learn new sounds and alternative ways to pronounce sounds using the corresponding grapheme. They will also learn new spellings for sounds already taught e.g. ‘ai’ rain, ‘ay’ say and ‘a-e’ cake. The teaching of phrase five alternative pronunciations and spellings continue throughout year one.
How do we monitor and assess phonics?
Progress is monitored regularly by class teachers, year group leaders and the English leader. Teachers complete termly assessments of the sounds and corresponding graphemes taught to measure progress across foundation stage and key stage one. Children are also assessed on the ‘harder to read and spell words.’ These are the words that are not made up of graphemes already taught. After completion of the assessment cycle every six weeks, additional interventions as well as whole class teaching may be put into place to support children’s specific learning needs to maintain our ‘keep up, not catch up, approach in line with the E.L.S. programme.
Our children in year one will also complete a termly phonics screening assessment in preparation for the statutory assessment during term six of year one. The phonics assessment completed is based on material provided by the ‘Essential Letters and Sounds’ programme and will help our teachers provide the support our children need to develop into competent readers.
Year one pupils take part in a statutory phonics screening in the summer term. The results of this test are reported on a pass/fail basis and if any child is not successful, they can retake it in the summer term of following year. Throughout year two, any child who was not successful in the screening process in year one,
will continue to receive phonics teaching to deepen their understanding of phonics and to support their reading progress.
Regular assessment of the learning of phonics will continue throughout this academic year and beyond if needed to provide children with the necessary teaching, learning, and monitoring to prepare children on their journey of learning to read. In turn, this will support the children to develop their reading skills further with the development of comprehension and fluency skills as they progress into key stage two.
Below is a list of useful website links available that we recommend to our parents to use to help support the learning of phonics: