Phonics is the process children use to segment and blend words when reading and writing. It is the process of understanding phonemes (sounds) and graphemes (written representations) to develop understanding of reading and writing.
At Ashwood Spencer Academy we want every child to become a successful, fluent reader and writer. We believe this is achievable through a combination of daily high quality, discrete phonics teaching combined with regular opportunities to develop reading skills. The teaching of phonics is a key strategy that helps our children to read, write and spell.
At Ashwood Spencer Academy, our aims are:
- To provide consistent, high quality phonics teaching that ensures all children have a strong foundation upon which to tackle the complex processes of reading and writing.
- To ensure that the teaching of synthetic phonics is systematic and progressive throughout the Foundation Stage and Key Stage One as well as Key Stage Two for those children needing interventions to support phonetic knowledge and understanding.
- To ensure that children have sound phonetic knowledge, understanding and skills so they can decode and segment words confidently and engage with higher order reading and writing skills.
EYFS & Year 1
We use a systematic synthetic phonics programme called Little Wandle Letters and Sounds, which is approved by the Department for Education. Progression is planned so that children start by learning simple GPCs and the complexity increases over time. Phonics is embedded into writing areas and interactive displays in classrooms and children can access phonics resources throughout the day.
In Nursery, our focus is to develop children’s listening skills and involves listening to and identifying environmental, animal and instrumental sounds; body percussion; rhyming; alliteration and oral segmentation. Initially, children are taught aspects of listening skills in discrete lessons and throughout the curriculum. By the end of Nursery, we aim for children to be able to hear initial sounds in words; blend sounds to make words and segment simple words into sounds.
In Reception and Year 1, phonics is taught every day as a whole class lesson. Children revisit GPCs and words they have learnt before and learn new GPCs and words. All the GPCs taught are practised in words and sentences and, when children are ready, by reading fully decodable books. Phonics is applied in the spelling section of the daily lesson and in reading and writing activities that take place across the curriculum.
On Fridays, children review what they have learnt over the week. This practice, along with revisiting prior learning in the daily lessons, ensures their knowledge moves into their long- term memory. This will enable children to recall knowledge quickly and accurately.
Teachers assess children’s understanding during lessons and identify any children who need to have some further support in daily keep up sessions. Some children have more significant gaps in their understanding and they take part in more intensive interventions that will enable them to catch up.
The teaching of phonics goes hand- in- hand with reading; children read at least three times a week in small groups. Children are grouped based upon Little Wandle Letters and Sounds phonics assessments. Our reading practice groups provide opportunities for children to apply their phonics knowledge to reading and to develop fluency and comprehension skills. In the reading groups, children read a phonics book which is fully decodable: in other words, their book will only contain phonemes they know. Children then read this book independently at home and also have a reading for pleasure book to share with a grown-up at home.
If you are a parent and would like more information about how to support your child with phonics at home, please follow this link to find the Reception and Year 1 overview as well as videos of the sound pronunciations, letter formation sheets and other helpful resources.
In Year 2, pupils who are not yet secure in their knowledge or who did not pass the phonics screening check receive a daily phonics session, focusing on the phonetic knowledge they need to secure, using the Little Wandle teaching order as guidance. They will also receive 1:1 or group interventions. Those who are secure have a recap and practise in spelling lessons.
Key Stage 2
Pupils who still require phonics input in Key Stage 2 are supported through interventions with teaching assistants or teachers and this knowledge is embedded during their Sounds and Syllables spelling lessons.
In EYFS and Y1, children’s phonics knowledge is assessed every 6 weeks using Little Wandle assessments in order to keep track of pupils’ progress, to inform next steps for teaching and to identify pupils for Keep- Up sessions. In Y2 and KS2, we use the ‘Ashwood Spencer Phonics Assessment’ to assess children. Phonics assessment is carried out half-termly to ensure children are in the correct group, working within the correct phase. Half-termly phonics trackers are completed by teachers so they know which children require additional support. NB Y2 and KS2 will begin to use the Little Wandle assessment materials at an appropriate time.