Phonics – Early Reading
At Park Road Sale Primary School, we believe it is vitally important that children have a secure understanding of the phonemes, graphemes and the spelling system in the English language. Phonic skills need to be developed in a systematic, phased approach in order to help all children to become competent fluent readers and writers.
We believe that reading is vitally important and that there are many different elements to reading. Whilst children need to learn to decode books, they also need to learn how to understand and interpret what they are reading and learn to read for pleasure. Children have access to a wide variety of reading books as we do not use one book scheme. Instead, we incorporate a number of different schemes into our stock of books to ensure children can access a breadth of books. Children have the opportunity to read phonetically decodable books independently, as well as both books that will develop inference skills and books intended to be shared with an adult to develop the important love and enjoyment of reading.
Children chose their home reading book from book banded sets and are encouraged to change these books multiple times a week. The book banded sets match the children’s reading skills and are assessed using benchmarking; meaning they are at a level in which they can read independently. However, we suggest the children share their home readers with an adult to ensure comprehension skills can be developed at home with the use of adult questioning. Children learning Phase 2 to Phase 5a also take home a phonetically decodable book once a week that matches the phonemes they have been learning in their phonics lessons. The children keep this book for one week to continually practise the phonemes they have learnt. Children can read these books completely independently and we actively encourage children to do so. Additionally, children also have the opportunity to take home a library book once a week. Library books are not phonetically decodable or matched to the children’s book bands. Instead, they are books intended to be shared with an adult to develop enjoyment and reading for pleasure which we believe is vital in helping children to become competent fluent readers.
Our guided reading lessons work on a carousel basis in which the children have the opportunity to read a phonetically decodable book that matches the progression of the phonemes learnt in their phonics lessons both with adult support and independently, as well as a the opportunity to read a book banded book matched to their level (or slightly higher) with their teacher to develop inference and comprehension skills.
Our school has developed its own phonics scheme which begins in EYFS and continues throughout KS1 and into KS2 if required. It focuses on high quality teaching of both the phonemes and graphemes needed to secure word recognition skills which are essential for children to decode and encode words accurately.
Our phonics scheme is split into the six phases: phase one is taught in Nursery and promotes speaking and listening skills, phonological awareness and oral blending/segmenting; phases two and three are taught in Reception and focus on teaching the 42 phonemes in the English language and their corresponding graphemes, as well as developing blending and segmenting skills; phase four is taught in Reception and revisited at the beginning of Year 1 as it teaches children to blend and segment polysyllabic words; phase 5a is taught in Year 1 and focuses on additional graphemes used to represent previously learnt phonemes; both phase 5b and 5c are also taught in Year 1 and revisited in Year 2 as they focus on teaching alternative pronunciation and spelling of previously learnt phonemes/graphemes; phase 6 is taught in Year 2 and focuses on spelling strategies and other areas of grammar within the English language. Phases 2-6 also incorporate the teaching of tricky words, high frequency and common exception words for EYFS and KS1.
In EYFS and KS1, phonics is taught daily in a discrete 30 minute session in small groups. These sessions are fast paced, interactive and purposely repetitive. We follow the lesson structure: Revisit, Teach, Practice and Apply in every session, regardless of the phase being taught. All phonics teachers follow the same school phonics scheme to ensure a systematic approach and high quality teaching. In addition, phonic skills are taught in daily literacy and guided reading lessons and are applied in reading and writing opportunities in other areas of the curriculum.
Children are assessed every term and split into groups according to their understanding of grapheme-phoneme correspondence, decoding ability and blending and segmenting progression. All children are assessed on each phase as they are taught it but any gaps in previous phases are revisited to ensure high levels of progression. Children do not progress onto the next phase until they are secure in grapheme-phoneme correspondence and can blend and segment at an appropriate level.
Phonics Screening Check
In the summer term, Year 1 children take the Phonics Screening Check in which they are expected to read 40 decodable words (both real and pseudo). This progress check identifies those children who are not at the expected level in reading. These children are provided with further support to help them become competent and fluent readers and they are re-checked using the Phonics Screener in the summer term of Year 2.
SEND and Additional Needs
If there is a need, pupils will be given extra support to help them improve reading skills and make suitable levels of progress. Support will also be provided for older pupils in KS2 who may be experiencing difficulty in reading/writing because they have missed or misunderstood a crucial phase of systematic phonics teaching. This support will be provided through additional interventions tailored to the specific needs of the individual pupils. We understand that learning phonics can be tricky for some children with specific learning needs and so although they still follow the same phonics scheme as their peers in daily phonics lessons, additional support is tailored to their specific needs so that they can learn to read in the most appropriate way for them.