At Oakley CE Combined School, we understand that systematic, synthetic Phonics is the most effective way of teaching young children to read, developing the skills and perseverance they need to tackle the reading of new words. We firmly that believe that for phonics to be most effective, it must be embedded across all areas of the curriculum and we strive to make links wherever possible. We are committed to ensuring that all children become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage 1.
What is Phonics?
From a very early stage, children develop an awareness of different sounds in spoken language. They develop an understanding that spoken words are made up of different sounds (phonemes) and they learn to match these phonemes to letters (graphemes).
Phonics is about children knowing how letters link to sounds (graphemes to phonemes) - e.g. ‘c’ as in ‘cat’, ‘ll’ as in ‘fell’, ‘ee’ as in ‘sheep’
Children are taught pure sounds and are discouraged from adding ‘uh’ to the end of sounds, which can cause confusion. An excellent video showing correct pronunciation of the sounds can be found on this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwJx1NSineE
Once children begin learning sounds, they can usually start to read and spell words.
There are two key skills children need to learn:
To learn to read well children must be able to smoothly blend sounds together.
The teacher shows children how to do this –
The separate sounds (phonemes) are spoken aloud, in order, through the whole word, and are then merged together into the complete word. The merging together is called blending – it is a vital skill for reading.
Segmenting is a skill used in spelling. In order to spell the word cat, it is necessary to segment the word into its constituent sounds -
Children often understand segmenting as ‘breaking up a word.
Before writing a word young children need time to think about it, say the word several times, ‘break up’ the word and then write it. Segmenting can be seen as the inverse to blending, and for most children both skills are essential in learning to read and write confidently.
Phonics at Oakley
Children are taught phonics daily from Reception through to the end of Year 2. We follow Letters and Sounds phases 1-6, with some supporting materials from Read, Write, Inc.
Children are regularly assessed by their class teacher to monitor their progress and knowledge of the sounds taught. Children who do not make the expected progress are given short 1:1 interventions to support them, in addition to their sessions with the class. These can be beneficial for children who struggle to retain the information, remember sounds taught, need a little longer to think them through, or who just find it easier to focus on the sounds when 1:1.
Alongside learning to recognise the sounds for decoding words to read, the children are taught to build up the sounds to spell words. Children are taught rules for spelling and create groups of words with similar spellings, look for them in texts and practise writing them. Once children are confident with reading all the sounds and blending them, the emphasis on spelling is greater.
In addition to phonics, children are taught irregular (tricky) words they need to recognise on sight because they do not sound out in the traditional way.
Do we only use phonics in KS1?
No, children recap Phase 5(or other phases) where necessary as they begin KS2. They also study Phase 6 in greater detail. This is important for learning to spell because it helps children to identify which groups of words have a certain spelling. The phonics taught is continued through the school so that we have children who are confident in reading and spelling.
Phonics Screening Check
All children in Year 1 will complete a national phonics screening check. The phonics screening check comprises of a list of 40 words that children read one-to-one with a teacher. The list is a combination of both real and ‘pseudo-words’ (nonsense words). Children need to be able to blend the sounds together fluently to read the words.
The phonics screening check is carried out in every primary school in England. Any children who have not achieved this standard will be given further support and will retake the screening check in Year 2.
A meeting for parents is held about the phonics screening check in the Spring term each year, consisting of a short presentation, followed by an opportunity for parents to ask any questions they may have about the screening check.