At Latchford St James C of E School, the systematic teaching of phonics has a high priority throughout Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 to ensure all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. We acknowledge that children need to be taught the key skills in segmenting and blending to be equipped with the knowledge to be able to complete the phonics screening check at the end of Year 1. We also value and encourage the pupils to read for enjoyment and recognise that this starts with the foundations of acquiring letter sounds, segmenting and blending skills. Through phonics children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and develop their writing skills, as well as blending sounds to read words.
At Latchford St James C of E Primary School, we use the Department of Education approved document ‘Letters and Sounds’ and Jolly Phonics actions alongside resources from Phonics Play for our teaching of phonics. This allows our phonics teaching and learning to be progressive from our Nursery class up to Year 2.
Children in our Nursery class work on Phase One phonics, which concentrates on developing their speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for the phonic work which starts in Phase 2. As children move into Reception they continue to build on their listening skills and are introduced to Phase 2 which marks the start of systematic phonics work. They have discrete, daily phonics sessions where they revise previous learning, are taught new graphemes/phonemes, practise together and apply what they have learnt. Through Letters and Sounds, the children are taught the 44 phonemes that make up all the sounds required for reading and spelling. These phonemes include those made by just one letter and those that are made by two or more (2 letters that make one sound – digraph e.g. ch, 3 letters that make one sound trigraph e.g. igh). Children work through the different phases and as they grow in confidence and experience, they are introduced to alternative ways of representing the same sound. Phonics lessons are differentiated to provide appropriate challenge for all children and to move learning forward. Although the focus in Nursery is Phase One, where appropriate children will be introduced to Phase Two phonics to ensure progress for all. Extra support is provided to those in Year 2 who have not passed phonics screening in Year 1 and interventions are planned for those children who are working below expected levels. Staff systematically teach learners the relationship between sounds and the written spelling patterns, or graphemes, which represent them. Children in Year 3 and above who need further phonic intervention work will do so through targeted interventions.
In EYFS the continuous provision matches the pupil’s current knowledge and understanding whilst ensuring the children are suitably challenged. Teachers regularly assess the pupil’s phonics knowledge using individual phonics assessment, PM Benchmarking and the Reading and Writing Early Learning Goal (in EYFS). These regular assessments inform planning and allow teachers to identify any gaps in learning. Assessments are monitored each half term by the phonics lead who will, together with the class teacher, highlight pupils not making expected progress. Assessment informs teachers of targeted intervention sessions that may be needed for those children who may have a barrier within their phonics learning.
The children have reading books which they are encouraged to read regularly at home which match their current phonics level. In school, pupils have regular reading sessions with an adult to ensure the pupils are practising and applying their phonic knowledge.
Planning for phonics is separate from the English planning and is recorded on the school’s phonics planning format. It should be based on the needs of the children and show differentiation between each phonics group based on the children’s abilities and next steps.
Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school. Attainment in reading is measured using the statutory assessments at the end of Key Stage One and Two. These results are measured against the reading attainment of children nationally. Attainment in phonics is measured by the Phonics Screening Test at the end of Year 1. However, we firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments.