Phonics at Abbots Ripton Church of England Primary School
We believe that learning phonics is a crucial skill to support children in becoming early readers and writers. We know that this skill has to be practised and applied daily and this is given priority in our school day. We also want our children to love reading and books, and so we use the Story Time Phonics resources to ensure that children link the learning of phonics to the joy of reading books.
Story Time Phonics helps us teach phonics systematically in a lively active way in Reception and Year 1. The Phonic Fairy delivers a book to the Reception classroom when a new sound is being learnt, in a book bag, and the Tricky Troll puppet supports the learning of the tricky words linked to each phase. There is a ‘caption action’ for each new sound and sound mats to support the recognition of graphemes for spelling.
Learning begins with reading the book linked to the new sound, the day before the lesson, in a whole class guided reading session. Each book comes with a bookmark which gives ideas for questions linked to each book. The story is then repeated at the outset of the lesson by watching the Phonic Fairy read the book, before she introduces the new sound.
The lesson then consists of a review, teach, practise and apply session with alternate reading and writing sessions over a week, with one day for reviewing learning. There is opportunity to practise and apply known phoneme grapheme correspondences in reading and spelling through dictation of sounds, words and sentences.
Story Time Phonics teaches phonics in the progressive phases of ‘Letters and Sounds’, starting with Phase One. This is a particular focus in Reception in the autumn term where rhymes and songs are used in many curriculum areas, and we also take part in National Nursery Rhyme Week.
We begin Phase Two as soon as children are settled into school, teaching a set of words weekly. We teach the children to segment words from left to right, and to blend the sounds into words to help begin reading and spelling. This begins with simple consonant-vowel-consonant (cvc) words, such as ‘sun’ and ‘cat’.
Phase 3 has a set of more complex consonant and vowel digraphs and once this teaching sequence has been completed, the phonemes are revisited to consolidate the sounds for reading and to focus on the spelling.
Phase 4 completes the Reception cycle of Phonics and supports the children in consolidating phonemes and graphemes, enabling them to become more fluent readers.
In Year 1 the children are taught alternative graphemes for sounds. Phase 5 also gives opportunities to review the sounds taught and to extend knowledge of sounds for reading and spelling. By this stage children are reading with some fluency and spelling becomes more of a priority. The Jane Considine Spelling Programme is followed from Year 2 to Year 6 which continues to build on a child’s early phonics skills.
Phonics and Reading
The books used within the Story Time Phonics programme are enjoyed as part of the phonics lessons. Whole class guided reading in Reception, focuses the children in on vocabulary, characters and settings. In KS1, the children have a carousel style guided reading session which supports practising and applying phonic and reading skills.
Once blending, fully decodable books are sent home and a child is taught to read with various strategies; identifying the first sound, decoding the words using phonics, applying the tricky and high frequency words taught, and tracking words in a sentence by using a finger under each word. A book for sharing at home is also chosen by the child on a daily basis to support their love of reading.
For those children who find blending difficult, activities are used to support this skill. These exercises are shared with parents so they can also support this at home.
The books within school are organised into Phonic Phases up to Phase 5 and non-decodable books and books beyond Phase 5 are sorted into colour bands up to emerald. Teachers in Reception choose decodable books that match the children’s ability and in Year 1 and 2 children choose their own within a selection. Books are often sent home more than once and many are read in school before being sent home, to support reading for fluency.
We appreciate the ‘power of parental support’ and deliver a phonic workshop to Reception Stage parents and a reading workshop to KS1 parents in the autumn term. Resources are available on the website and these include links to websites which support the systematic, synthetic approach to reading.
Although we encourage the children to mark make and form the letters in lessons, at the outset of the teaching sequence, this is often done in a kinaesthetic way using chalk, air writing, sand etc. We teach the children to segment words into sounds and use a variety of practical resources to support this skill such as phoneme cards and frames and spelling stones.
We move the children on at the same pace and have a mastery approach, where all children have the opportunity to learn new phonemes and graphemes. We differentiate in the practise session and also pre teach and review learning with those that need support outside of the phonic lesson.
Reception children’s sound knowledge is assessed on entry to school in the Baseline assessment. Subsequent assessment is then carried out at key points in the teaching cycle to evaluate progress and to inform planning and early intervention. Year 1 children are also assessed at the outset of the year and are prepared for the phonic check in the Summer Term.