Early Reading and Phonics
What is Phonics?
Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language.
Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of individual letters and how those letters sound when they’re combined will help children decode words as they read. Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing words.
Phonics involves matching the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters. For example, the sound k can be spelled as c, k, ck or ch.
Teaching children to blend the sounds of letters together helps them decode unfamiliar or unknown words by sounding them out. For example, when a child is taught the sounds for the letters t, p, a and s, they can start to build up the words: “tap”, “taps”, “pat”, “pats” and “sat”.
How we teach phonics and early reading at Thrybergh Primary
We teach phonics and early reading using the new updated FFT’s Success for All Phonics programme, which is a complete Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) programme validated by the DfE.
FFT’s Success for All Phonics gives children a daily phonics and reading lessons from EYFS to the end of Year 1. The daily lessons cover all the main Grapheme–Phoneme Correspondences (GPCs) and Common Exception Words (CEWs) to provide children with the phonic knowledge and skills required for success in becoming a fluent and accurate reader by the end of KS1.
The programme introduces phonics and its application to early reading in a carefully sequenced and progressive way: moving from developing phonological awareness through rhyme, to introducing Grapheme–Phoneme Correspondences (GPCs) in order, through a six-phased progression. Children will learn the skills of blending and segmenting as new GPCs are introduced, reinforcing them throughout the programme. The programme also teaches children to read common exception words (CEWs). These are words which cannot be decoded phonetically and have to be recognised on sight. The programme aims to build confident readers through the consistent, systematic, and daily teaching of the Success for All Phonics programme with accompanying Shared Readers. Our aim is for children to become fluent, confident readers by the end of Key Stage 1.
The programme provides pacey and active lessons that balance short inputs of direct teaching with immediate whole-class response and engagement. The multisensory lessons engage all children in a variety of activities designed to support learning in fun and memorable ways. Activities include: saying the Alphabet Chant with actions, responding to questions either chorally or with their Talk Partner, and/or actively reading with their partner, and writing in the air or on their partner’s back. Lessons also link pictures and mnemonics to support the learning and recall of each GPC.
The phonics programme provides texts called Shared Readers, which are exactly aligned to the phonics that is being taught. The children are motivated to apply their new learning in a meaningful way. The reading lessons develop a separate, but linked, approach to the teaching of reading comprehension during the shared reading lessons.
Children will take home the book they have read in class, so that they can continue to practise it and get to the stage where they can read it automatically, no longer needing to sound the words out.
All lessons are underpinned with cooperative Learning techniques in which learning skills are developed by teachers explicitly modelling behaviours for learning. Teachers use positive feedback to help children to understand when they meet expectations and for motivation. This approach encourages children to work together in supportive peer partnerships (and teams when in Year 1).
Within the scope of the programme, dedicated time is planned in for review and consolidation of skills to ensure that children do not fall behind.
The programme plans in frequent and comprehensive formative and summative assessment opportunities to inform teaching and ensure that children’s progress is closely monitored. This enables early identification of children who may need additional support.
The programme provides comprehensive lesson planning and resources, as well as training and ongoing support, from the FFT/SfA team. Monitoring of the programme, and further support for the teaching team, is offered by the school Phonics Lead and the English Lead.
For more information about how your child is taught phonics and how you can help them, please see their class teacher.
For more information about the SfA phonics programme, please follow this link: https://fft.org.uk/phonics/