Our leaders for Phonics at Etchells are Mrs Revill and Miss Hobson. Their role is to oversee the organisation, teaching, learning and assessment of phonics in school. We use a 'vertical grouping' system in order to deliver phonics sessions in the most effective and impactful way. This approach is used by many schools and has shown to have significant impact on the progress made by all pupils. What it means is that all children in Reception and KS1 are grouped according to the phonic 'phase' they are working in rather than their age. They are then taught in mixed age groups, having their learning experiences pitched at exactly their point of phonic development. We will review this approach regularly and rigorously and monitor the impact made on progress. A range of resources are used to deliver phonics such as i Pads, large graphemes cards, outdoor graphemes, magnetic letters, individual white boards and games. We follow the Letters and Sounds programme but use resources from the Jolly Phonics scheme. At the early stages of phonic development the children are encouraged to use the Jolly Phonic action to help link phoneme and graphemes together. We aim for phonic sessions to be fun, paceyand as hands on as possible.To support children requiring additional help in phonics and spelling we use an online intervention programme called "Nessy" across school. This has proved extremely successful in securing progress and can be accessed at home.
What is phonics?
There has been a big shift in the past few years in how we teach reading in school. This is having a huge impact and helping many children learn to read and spell. Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read. Phonics runs alongside other teaching methods to help children develop vital reading skills and give them a real love of reading – hopefully for life.
Words are made up from small units of sound (phonemes) and phonics teaches children to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. This helps them learn to read and spell words.
In phonics lessons children are taught three main things:
1 GPCs (grapheme phoneme correspondences)
GPCs simply means that children are taught all the phonemes in the English language and ways of writing them down. The first sounds to be taught are s, a, t, p.
Children are taught to blend sounds together by merging the individual sounds together until they can hear what the word is. This is a vital reading skill.
Segmenting is the opposite of blending! Children are able to say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up. This is a vital spelling skill.
Why is phonics so tricky?
The English language is very complicated! England has been invaded so many times throughout its history and each set of invaders brought new words and new sounds with them. As a result, English only has around 44 phonemes but there are around 120 graphemes or ways of writing down those 44 phonemes. Plus, we only have 26 letters in the alphabet so some graphemes are made up from more than one letter.
ch th oo ay (these are digraphs – graphemes with two letters)
There are other graphemes that are trigraphs (made up of 3 letters) and a very few made from 4 letters.
Some graphemes can represent more than one phoneme, ie, ch can make different sounds, chip, school, chef
Learning to read is like cracking a code so teaching phonics is a way of teaching children to crack the code. As reading is the key to learning it is important that we teach phonics clearly and systematically learning easy bits first then progressing to trickier bits!
How we teach phonics at Etchells Primary School:
Phonics sessions each day are made up of games, songs and actions. We use ‘Jolly Phonics’ and 'Letter and Sounds' as our main schemes.