Phonics is a method used to teach children to read the sounds in words. It helps children to learn to read quickly and skilfully and is an essential part of a child’s early education. At St Barnabas and St Paul’s, we use a systematic phonics programme called Letters and Sounds. This is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning.
In Phonics, we implement an inclusive curriculum that meets the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum. Phonics is taught for 20 minutes daily from Reception to Year 2, however it may continue to be taught across school to ensure that all children receive a good understanding of phonics to support their reading.
Children will learn different phonemes (sounds) and graphemes (letters), to enable them to segment and blend for reading. The understanding that the letter(s) on the page represent the sounds in spoken words should underpin pupils’ reading and spelling of all words. This includes common words containing unusual grapheme, phonemes correspondences (GPCs). The term ‘common exception words’ is used throughout the programmes of study for such words.
At St Barnabas and St Paul’s, we follow the ‘Letters and Sounds’ teaching approach, which has six phases. During all these phases children will be introduced to some ‘tricky’ words and common exception words which must be learnt as sight vocabulary.
In Phase One, children explore and experiment with sounds and words. They are taught to distinguish between different sounds in the environment and phonemes. The children will also learn to orally blend and segment the sounds in words. We hope that the children will have developed some of these skills in nursery and have a strong foundation for Communication, Language and Literacy by the time they start school. In Reception, Phase One activities will continue to be included within the classroom as they are integral in developing language-rich provision that enhances vocabulary and listening and attention.
Children entering Phase Two will have experienced a wealth of listening activities including songs, stories and rhymes. The purpose of this phase is to teach the 19 most common single letter sounds, and move children on from oral blending and segmentation to blending and segmenting with letters. We follow the letter progression suggested by Letters and Sounds and provide a selection of suitable words made up of the letters as they are learned.
By the end of Phase Two many children should be able to read some simple words and to spell them either using magnetic letters or by writing the letters down.
Children entering Phase Three will know around 19 letters and be able to blend phonemes to read and write simple words. The purpose of Phase Three is to introduce children to the remaining, more difficult and/or less commonly used phonemes. There are 25 of these, mainly made up of two letters such as /ch/, /ar/, /ow/ and /ee/. They learn the names of the letters, as well as the sounds they make. Children also continue to practise blending and segmentation in this phase and will apply their knowledge to reading and spelling simple words and captions.
“Learning to read is like learning to run. The more you practise, the faster you become.” Sophie Carter