Phonics and Early Reading
At Christ the King Catholic Primary School, we develop pupils’ ability to recognise, blend and segment sounds for reading and spelling through a systematic, synthetic phonics programme, called Essential Letters and Sounds. We believe that learning to read and write fluently is a priority for all our children before they leave Christ the King Catholic Primary School and is vital for them to master in order for them to access the rest of the curriculum. We emphasise the importance of high quality reading and writing experiences throughout the curriculum in all year groups. Teachers show fidelity to the progression of our phonics programme from the Early Years, through Key Stage 1 and into Key Stage 2 as required. When children have learnt letter-sound correspondences they move onto a progressive spelling scheme, called Essential Spelling, during Year 2 and throughout Key Stage 2.
We have implemented Essential Letters and Sounds as our chosen phonics programme and staff are trained to teach phonics with a rigorous, consistent approach. Daily lessons are well-structured and pacy with clear expectations that both staff and children are familiar with. The programme uses teacher modelling, 'Me, then you', to teach not to test children and children are taught to recognise grapheme-phoneme correspondences using mnemonics and picture flashcards.
Phonics in the Early Years
In Little Acorns Foundation Stage 1 (FS1) children are introduced to the oral discrimination of sounds and recognition of environmental sounds through games, stories, rhymes, alliteration and structured play. This is called Phase 1. Once children have started to develop these skills, oral blending of words is introduced during daily routines throughout the day, for example 'Go and get your c-oa-t'. Children are then taught to recognise some of the Phase 2 GPCs in the Spring Term of FS1.
In Foundation Stage 2 (FS2), more structured phonics lessons are introduced and Phase 2 graphemes are taught. The lessons use interactive whiteboard resources with apply tasks in workbooks to practise reading and writing the GPCs or words taught that day. There is a rigorous pace to the lessons and to the week with approximately four new GPCs taught each week. There are also planned weeks to assess and review these graphemes to allow learning to be consolidated. This information is used to identify early any children who may need further support or targetted intervention so that they 'keep up' rather than having to 'catch up' at a later stage. The links between letter formation, reading and spelling are made explicit as each new grapheme is taught. Alongside learning the GPCs, children are taught to read and spell a range of harder to read and spell (HRS) words that are difficult to decode within the phase they are introduced. These are highlighted in the progression map. The GPCs are taught in the following order:
Autumn Term 1 - Phase 2: s a t p i n m d g o c k ck e u r ss h b f ff l ll
Autumn Term 2 / Spring Term 1 - Phase 3: j v w x y z zz qu ch sh th ng nk ai ee igh oa oo (book) ar ur oo (food) or ow oi ear air ure er ow (snow)
Spring Term 2 - Phase 3 review and Phase 4 introduced through oral blending and decodable reading books.
Summer Term 1 - Phase 4 adjacent consonants: cvcc, ccvc, ccvcc, cccvcc and suffixes ed, er, est.
Summer Term 2 - Phase 5 introduced: ay, ou, ie, ea, -le, oy, ir, ue, aw, wh, ph, ew, oe, au, ey, a-e, e-e, i-e, o-e, u-e, c /s/
Children are introduced to decodable reading books which support the phase at which they have been taught and to consolidate prior learning. We have a wide range of quality texts from Oxford University Press that are fully decodable according to the term/week of each year group. We also have some 'partner read' texts that are mostly decodable but that can be supported by an adult at home or school. Children are provided with new reading books each week from our reading scheme books or from our online ebooks using Oxford Owl. These books are introduced to the children during their phonics or reading lessons and the children then read them at least two more times at home. Please see the video below for advice on how to pronounce the pure phonetic sounds for reading.
Phonics in Key Stage One
In Year 1, structured daily phonics lessons continue and children become increasingly confident at blending sounds in both real and pseudo words. During the Sutumn Term Phase 5 graphemes are revisited and Phase 5 alternative graphemes are introduced from the Spring Term. They consolidate their previous learning and their orthographic maps are developed further during the Summer Term of Year 1. Children learn to blend and segment multi-syllabic words and learn to use some prefixes and suffixes. Children are taught to read a wider range of texts with fluency, expression and understanding. They are taught to spell words in simple sentences, using simple punctuation accurately. Please see the Phonics Progression Map below for further details of this progression.
In Autumn Term Year 2, Phase 5 graphemes and their alternatives are reviewed with a particular focus on application for spelling and writing. Children will continue to read using our decodable reading books until they develop fluency and understanding of these texts. Once children are confident readers at this level, they move onto the Accelerated Readers. Our spelling programme, Essential Spelling, is introduced during the Spring Term of Year 2.
Phonics, Spelling and Reading in Key Stage Two
In KS2 we start to use Accelerated Readers; this allows children a greater variety of choice of books within their level and helps us monitor their comprehension. Some children will continue to read our decodable reading books until they develop confidence with blending sounds into words and sentences. Targeted phonics interventions will support those children who are continuing to find sound recognition and blending more challenging. Children will continue to be taught how to spell words using a range of spelling patterns and rules following the progression of the Essential Spelling programme.
Early Reading and Reading Books
Our phonics programme is supported by fully decodable reading books that follow the ELS progression of sounds taught. Children are given a fully decodable book that closely matches their phonic knowledge and reading fluency level during each week of the programme. They will read this book during the week in school with guidance from a Reading Teacher, either 1:1, in paired, group or whole class reading groups and at the end of the week the children may take this book home. Children also have access to phonetically decodable books from our online reading platform Oxford Owls.
At times, children may also be provided with a 'Share with Me' reading book, which should be read with the support of an adult. These books have been matched where possible to our reading scheme but there may be some words that are not yet fully decodable and the supporting adult will need to read these words for the child. Some of these words are listed inside the front cover of the books.
Each week children may bring home a book from our class or school libraries to share with an adult. These books are for sharing and enjoying together at bedtimes or similar. Many children start to join in with well known stories and repetitive language within the books. We have workshops and reading cafes to help support parents with how to best use these books.
At Christ the King, we know how important it is to foster an early love of reading for pleasure. Each class throughout school has a timetabled dedicated story or read aloud session. We plan time for Book Talk in the form of recommending reads to others. We have enjoyed special Read Aloud days, Reading Cafes, Mystery Reader days, themed reading weeks, author visits, World Book Day events, Book Swap Shops and other similar events to help stimulate children's interest in reading. Our Reading Ambassadors and Buddies help us with these events, as well as regular reading with younger pupils and helping our pupils to choose books from our library at lunchtimes.