Phonics & KS1 Reading

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. Phonics starts in Nursery and runs throughout Reception, Year1 and Year2. If needed, phonics sessions continue as a learning intervention into Key Stage 2. 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  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 our own phonics  programme but use resources from the Jolly Phonics scheme, phonics play and created resources. 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, pacy and as hands on as possible. Our early book bands link very closely to the phonic group each child is working within. This allows the children to apply the phonic skills they have been taught.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.

Phoneme?  Grapheme?  

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.

2              Blending

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.

3              Segmenting

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 have devised our own school scheme. It is based on the principles of being systematic, structured and cumulative. 

In Key Stage One, we use the Oxford Reading Tree scheme including Project X to help children progress through stages of reading. This is supplemented with other publications including Collins Big Cat which have been grouped with the Oxford coloured book bands. When a child can confidently read the books in their stage and confidently answer questions about them to demonstrate comprehension, their class teacher will move them on to the next stage. The early book bands tie in with the phonic phase each  child is working within This allows the children to apply the phonic skills they have been taught.

Phonic Intent Statement.

At Etchells we believe that phonics provides the foundations of learning to allow a child to become a fluent reader and writer. The teaching of phonics is a high priority.Reading is the key that unlocks the whole curriculum so the ability to decode efficiently is essential. We also value and encourage the pupls to read independently for enjoyment and recognise that this starts with the foundations of acquiring letter sounds, blending and segmenting skills. At EYFS and Key Stage 1 children learn to segment words to support their spelling and blend sounds to read words through daily, systematic, cumulative  high quality phonics teaching. Pupils who require further phonic support continue to have systematic phonic sessions during Key Stage 2. Individual reading books are closely aligned to phonic phases up to phase 6. 

How does the Early Years Curriculum get our pupils ready for the Y1-6 Curriculum?         

Click below...

Foundations for Phonics in EYFS

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Primary School

East Avenue, Heald Green, Stockport, SK8 3DL

Telephone | 0161 437 1792

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Headteacher | Cathy Beddows