What is Phonics?
At St. Andrew’s, we believe that Phonics is the process that is used to help children blend, segment and decode words to read and spell. It is having the ability to:
- Understand the alphabetic code
- Recognise phonemes that each individual letter makes
- Identify phonemes that different combinations of letters make
- Understand that the same grapheme can make different phonemes and that different graphemes can make the same phoneme.
- Manipulate phonemes to read and spell new words.
Through the eyes of our children, Phonics is important because:
‘It helps us to understand how to improve our reading and spelling.’
Early Learning Goals
Children read and understand simple sentences. They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately. They read some common irregular words. They demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read.
Children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.
Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why phonics should be emphasised in the early teaching of reading.
Writing down ideas fluently depends on effective transcription: that is, on spelling quickly and accurately through knowing the relationship between sounds and letters (phonics) and understanding the morphology (word structure) and orthography (spelling structure) of words.
At St. Andrew’s Church of England Primary School, we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We believe that Phonics provides the foundations of learning to make the development into fluent reading and writing easier. As Phonics is the process that is used to help children break down words into sounds, as well as building letter and word recognition, it can then enable children to use unknown words in the future.
The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
- Read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- Acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language.
The teaching and implementation of the Phonics progression at St. Andrew’s C.E. Primary School is based on the Early Learning Goals and National Curriculum; it is supported by Letters and Sounds, ensuring a well-structured approach.
Our children are introduced to Phonics teaching using the Letters and Sounds programme as soon as they enter EYFS. Phonics is delivered daily as an explicit lesson in EYFS and Year 1, moving to Phonics into Spelling in Year 2 and is taught as a whole class approach to ensure that quality first teaching is accessible to all children.
Children are then assessed each term on their Phonics knowledge which is then used as the basis for intervention.
Phonics is clearly linked with early reading with children taking home reading books which are in line with their exposure to taught phonemes to provide breadth and exposure to a wider range of words whilst still being able to apply their phonetic knowledge.
There are six phases within the Letters and Sounds programme:
- Phase 1 – Activities are divided into seven aspects. Environmental Sounds, Instrumental Sounds, Body Sounds, Rhythm and Rhyme, Alliteration, Voice Sounds and finally Oral Blending and Segmenting.
- Phase 2 – Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting sounds into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.
- Phase 3 – The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as “ch”, “oo” and “th” representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the “simple code”, i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.
- Phase 4 – No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.
- Phase 5 – Now we move on to the “complex code”. Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.
- Phase 6 – Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.
At St. Andrew’s, we are dedicated to the teaching and delivery of a high-quality Phonics and Spelling curriculum through well planned and resourced projects and experiences. We have determined that Phonics and Spelling will taught in discrete phases across the school year. During Phonics and Spelling phases our children draw upon subject knowledge and skills within Reading and Writing. Through the evaluation of prior knowledge and understanding they can continue to manipulate phonemes in order to be competent and successful readers and spellers.
Through the explicit teaching of Phonics and Spelling skills, teachers and the children assess their learning continuously throughout the lesson. At the end of each term, teachers complete phonics evaluation trackers, assessing attainment against the Letters and Sounds, EYFS and NC requirements to make informed judgements about the depth of their learning and the progress children have made over time.