'Reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible". Barack Obama
Our intention is to enable children to become confident and fluent readers through giving meaning to written symbols.
Phonics is taught every morning in EYFS and Key Stage 1, in Year 2 Phonics has a Spelling focus. Phonics is regularly assessed, observed and adjusted to fit the needs of the children. The books pupils read in Reception, and Year 1 are linked to sounds they are learning and those they need to revise and practice.
Children will leave KS1 able to decode and understand age appropriate books. They will be ready to tackle the reading curriculum of KS2. Most importantly they will be able to decode the words around them and take pleasure in reading and understanding a range of books.
What is phonics?
Phonics is a systematic way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. Whilst there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, spoken English uses about 42 sounds (phonemes). These phonemes are represented by a letter or group of letters (graphemes). The teaching of phonics begins by teaching children the letter sounds in isolation and then building up to blending the sounds together to read whole words. In turn children are then able to use their phonic skills to segment words to support with spelling.
Phoneme- the individual unit of sound in a word. The English language contains 44 different sounds.
Grapheme- the letter or group of letters that visually represents the phoneme (sound).
Digraph- 2 letters which represent 1 sound, for example: ck, ch, sh, th, ng
Trigraph- 3 letters representing 1 sound, for example: ear, air, ure, igh
Blending: merging the individual sounds (phonemes) to say a word. For example: c-a-t, cat or th-i-n, thin.
Segmenting- the skill of recognising the individual sounds (phonemes) needed to spell and write a word.
Decode- work out and read a word.
Vowel- short vowel sounds: a, e, i, o, u long vowel sounds: ai, ee, igh, ow, oo
High Frequency Words- words which occur most often in English some of which cannot be sounded out phonically. Your child will learn these in sequence and you may see them abbreviated as HFW or called ‘tricky’ or ‘key’ words.
Tricky words- these are words which don’t follow phonic rules. Your child will be unable to use their phonic skills to sound them out and blend so they will need to learn to recognise the word and say it (whole word recognition). For example: said, have, was, any, once
We use Unlocking Letters and Sounds which was validated by the DfE in December 2021.
We begin teaching phonics in the first few weeks of term 1 in Reception and children make rapid progress in their reading journey. Children begin to learn the main sounds heard in the English Language and how they can be represented, as well as learning ‘Common Exception’ words for Phases 2, 3 and 4. They use these sounds to read and write simple words, captions and sentences. Children leave Reception being able to apply the phonemes taught within Phase 2, 3 and 4.
In Year 1 through Phase 5a, b and c, they learn any alternative spellings and pronunciations for the graphemes and additional Common Exception Words. By the end of Year 1 children will have mastered using phonics to decode and blend when reading and segment when spelling. In Year 1 all children are screened using the national Phonics Screening Check.
In Year 2, phonics continues to be revisited to ensure mastery of the phonetic code and any child who does not meet age related expectations will continue to receive support to close identified gaps.
For further details please see the Unlocking Letters and Sounds progression:
To ensure no child is left behind at any point in the progression, children are regularly assessed and supported to keep up through bespoke 1-1 interventions. These include GPC recognition and blending and segmenting interventions. The lowest attaining 20% of pupils are closely monitored to ensure these interventions have impact.
At Luckwell Primary School we promote a 'phonics first' approach and in both our guided reading sessions at school and in the books children take home, texts are very closely matched to a child's current phonics knowledge so that every child can experience real success in their reading.
In these crucial early stages of reading we primarily use books from Ransom Reading Stars who we worked in partnership with when creating Unlocking Letters and Sounds to ensure complete fidelity to the phonic progression we follow.
Once children progress beyond de-codable texts, they move onto our book banded colour scheme so that they can continue to progress in their decoding, fluency and comprehension skills to become avid, expert readers.