At East Ardsley Primary Academy we believe Phonics is crucial in helping children learn to read and is a proven technique to best support children. The way we teach phonics enables most children to become effective readers and have the skills to easily decode any phonetically plausible words. We also spend time teaching common exception words that aren’t phonetically decodable. This means that reading time can be combined with comprehension skills more easily.
The children are taught progressive stages of phonics. Nursery teaches lots of early phonic skills, focussing on listening and attention skills that are fundamental to children being able to access phonics. This then leads into stage 1 later on in Nursery so that once the children reach Reception they can begin learning phonemes/graphemes from stage 1+. The children should be secure in stage 3 by the end of Reception and have been exposed to stage 4. In year one this then allows stage 3 to be recapped and really focus on those alternate sounds of stage 4-5+ and fill the gaps, preparing children for the phonics screening check. The children will be taught how to segment and blend short, medium and longer words right from stage 1+ to allow them to be confident readers and know how to tackle them from the moment they start blending.
Phonics is taught daily using the Floppy’s Phonics scheme, preferably first thing in the morning when the children are fresh and ready to learn. It is taught by a teacher and last approximately 30 minutes using a clear revisit, teach, practise, apply approach. The children revisit the sounds daily using the flashcards and say the sound, letter name and show the action. This approach allows children to have a multi-sensory approach to help them retain the sounds. The children are then taught the sound of the day using the interactive white board using the variety of activities on the Floppy’s Phonics programme. This involves lots of reading and using their phonics fingers and hands. The children then move onto practising reading words and sound buttoning them using the activity sheets from the teaching handbook. The children then use ‘penpals gym’ to warm up for writing. Once the children are ready for writing they write 3 words linked to the dictated sentence they are expected to write. The children know that these words link directly to the sound they are learning. The children then write a dictated sentence containing the words they have just written. They are clear on the process of writing: saying the sentence, counting the words, writing it one word at a time by fully sounding out, finger spaces, read it back, full stop.
The Oxford Reading Tree books are fantastic to use alongside teaching the children phonics and help them become better readers as they are exposed to longer words right from the get go. Children are read with at least once a week by an adult in school and those children who need extra are read with at least 3 times a week.
The children are assessed using the Floppy’s phonics assessments every half term, and their scores tracked across the year. In Year 1, as well as these assessments the children are exposed to mock screening checks every half term and these scores are used to predict outcomes for the screening check in June. Assessment also identifies key gaps any child may have and helps with planning.
When children are struggling with phonics, interventions are put in place to help them catch up and fill any gaps in knowledge. This targets their specific needs. We have an adult in school to help with extra targeted support. This helps prevent children from falling behind further on in school and if it still isn’t working we look at why and if there are any specific learning difficulties.
Educating parents on the importance of reading and phonics is key to children progressing in their skills. The sounds being taught in school are shared on Tapestry (our communication system) weekly to help parents support their children build on what they have learnt in school.