The importance of phonics
Word-reading is one of the essential dimensions of reading; the other is comprehension. Skilled word-reading involves working out the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and recognising familiar printed words. Underpinning both of these is the understanding that letters represent the sounds in spoken words. Fluent decoding supports pupils’ comprehension, because they don’t have to devote mental energy to individual words. A good grasp of phonics is also important for spelling, contributing to fluency and confidence in writing. (DfE 2012)
Phonics is the method of teaching reading and writing by correlating sounds with letters or groups of letters. There are 44 sounds in the English language which we put together to form words. Some sounds are represented by one letter like the ‘t’ in tin, whilst other sounds are represented by two or more letters like ‘ck’ in duck.
Children are taught the sounds, how to match them to letters and finally how to use the letter sounds for reading and spelling.
The scheme used at Godinton to teach phonics is called ‘Letters and Sounds’. This was produced by the Department for Education in 2007. It sets out a detailed and synthetic programme for teaching phonic skills and consists of 6 overlapping phases.
How does the school teach phonics?
In Reception the children start to learn phonics as soon as they start school. This is through 20 minute daily sessions. Phases 1-4 are completed whilst a child is in Reception. The children’s progress through these stages is monitored at regular periods. A child will only move on to the next phase if they have mastered the majority(80%) of the previous phase.
During year 1 it is expected that most children will begin learning Letters and Sounds phase 5. This will only happen if they have mastered 80% of phase 4. Any children who have not reached the appropriate level will repeat the necessary phases in order to secure their understanding and application. The children are set into phase groups across year 1 in order to match activities to their learning needs. They continue to have daily 20 minute sessions.
During year 2 any child who has not reached the required 80% of phase 5 will repeat any necessary work. The children are still put into sets across the year group. They have four 20 minute sessions a week, as well as additional phonic & spelling work. It is not uncommon for a year 2 classroom to contain children working at phases 2 – 6.
Years 3 – 6
Phonics will be revised at the start of every academic year for children in Years 3 – 6. Those children who are insecure with the phonic knowledge will receive support via intervention groups which will continue throughout the year. From the Spring term onwards, those children who are secure in their phonics knowledge will move on to more specific spelling work. In Year 3 phonics / spelling is taught for four 20 minute sessions per week and in Years 4-6, for two 30 minute sessions per week.
Parents will be notified as to the phase that their child is working on so that they can help their child at home. In order to assist parents with this, the pages below give details about the coverage of each phase and include video clips in which each sound is articulated. It is important that parents use the same pronounciation of sounds to those used in school.
Click on the links below to look at each phase of the Letters and Sounds scheme: