At St. Mary’s, we consider that it is vitally important that children have a secure understanding of the letter sounds and spelling system of English. Phonic skills need to be developed in a systematic, staged approach in order to help all children to ‘achieve their potential’.
Here, the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme is followed from Early Years Foundation Stage, through KS1 and into KS2 if required. The programme focuses on securing word recognition skills, essential for children to decode (read) and encode (spell) words accurately and reading comprehension. The programme is in six phases: phase one promotes speaking/listening skills, phonological awareness and oral blending/segmenting; phases two to five focus on high quality phonic work to help children develop fluent word reading and spelling skills.
It is recommended that children in phase two to five of Letters and Sounds should be taught a discrete 20 minute daily session of phonics and that teachers should follow the teaching sequence of ‘revisit, review, teach, practise and apply’. In addition, phonic skills can be applied in reading and writing opportunities as well as in other areas of the curriculum. Teachers will check pupil progress ie in their understanding of grapheme-phoneme (letter sound) correspondence.
Other resources supplementing Letters and Sounds are Oxford Reading Tree, Tree Tops, Big Cat and Rapid Readers.
In the summer term, Y1 children will take a Phonics Screening Check in which children will be expected to read 40 decodable ‘words’. This progress check identifies those children not at the expected level in reading – and these children will be re-checked in Y2.
Children who are secure at phase 5 can go onto phase 6, focusing on spelling. Sessions include direct teaching of spelling strategies, proofreading, high-frequency words.
If there is a need, pupils will be given extra support to help them improve reading skills and make progress. Support will also be provided for older pupils who may be experiencing difficulty in reading/writing because they have missed or misunderstood a crucial phase of systematic phonics teaching. The support programme Lexia may also be offered to pupils.
Homework is used to support phonics taught in class through such activities as practising phonic skills in spelling words and reading/writing activities.