Phonics is taught through the programme Letters and Sounds in EYFS and Year 1. Letters and Sounds develops a child’s phonics knowledge and skills in order to help them learn to read. It starts in nursery and by the age of seven the aim is for children to become fluent readers.
The programme is taught in five phases, the first of which supports children developing their speaking and listening skills as well as linking sounds and letters. Activities are divided into seven groups:
- Environmental sounds.
- Instrumental sounds.
- Body percussion.
- Rhythm and rhyme.
- Voice sounds.
- Oral blending and segmenting
Phase two introduces simple letter-sound correspondences. Children are taught to sound out and blend in order to read words for example, s-a-t to make sat. In phase three, children build on this knowledge and are taught consonant digraphs (sounds made up of two letters e.g. ‘ch’) and long vowel sounds e.g. ‘igh’. Children consolidate their knowledge during phase four and learn to read and spell words containing adjacent consonants for example, trap, strong and crept. In phase five, children learn new graphemes and alternative pronunciations for known graphemes. For example, in phase three children are taught ow as in cow and in phase five they learn ow as in blow.
In nursery, children are taught phase one through a variety of practical activities throughout the day. This continues into reception and is taught alongside phase two. Children progress onto phase three and four through regular assessment. Children are regrouped according to knowledge of their sounds, ability to blend and reading words whilst applying their sounds.
In year one, children move onto phase five. They continue to be assessed regularly and grouped
accordingly, any children who are not on track take part in interventions in order to ‘keep up’. In year one children take part in the Phonics Screening Check; a government check set in June to establish whether children have learned to decode words using phonics at the required level. Any children who do not pass the check are retested in year two.
Any children who are not at the required level at the start of year two, continue to take part in phonics lessons and taught sounds they are not familiar with. Children who pass the check continue to focus on developing reading skills.
Staff teaching phonics wear pinnies, which contain phonics cards, to reinforce sounds taught and the application of these in words throughout the day. Staff also help children ‘keep up’ through interventions whereby sounds are reinforced and applied to read in words by sounding out and blending. Whilst learning to read words, children are encouraged to spot the ‘special friends’ e.g. digraphs and trigraphs before sounding out and blending.
Whilst teaching phonics through Letters and Sounds, children are also taught to use other strategies; visual cues and reading for meaning, to help develop reading skills. These skills are taught and practiced whilst reading individually and through guided reading. PM books are used to develop early reading skills, children are then exposed to a variety of books from different schemes and real books to reinforce their reading skills. In key stage one, children practice and rehearse a combination of these strategies whilst introducing fluency through the strands of: Expression and Volume; Phrasing, Smoothness and Pace a focus. Skills of retrieval and inference are taught and built upon in key stage two and develop further whilst being exposed to a variety of texts. Refer to Literacy policy for more information on reading at Marish Academy Trust.