Phonics (reading and spelling)
At Sparrow Farm Primary, we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in Nursery/Reception and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.
As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At Sparrow Farm Primary, we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
At Sparrow Farm Primary, we value reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children leave us, they read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure. Our readers are equipped with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose.
Because we believe teaching every child to read is so important, we have a Reading Leader who drives the early reading programme in our school. This person is highly skilled at teaching phonics and reading, and they monitor and support our reading team, so everyone teaches with fidelity to the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
At Sparrow Farm Primary School we aim to develop the full potential of all our pupils as confident, literate readers and writers. If children are to develop as competent readers and writers, it is vitally important that they have a secure understanding of the letter sounds and spelling system of the English language. Phonic skills need to be developed in a systematic way, based on a stage approach.
Phonics on a Page Phonics Overview
Foundations for phonics in Nursery
We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and language’ and ‘Literacy’. These include:
- sharing high-quality stories and poems
- learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
- activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
- attention to high-quality language.
We ensure Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.
How we teach phonics in Nursery
We mostly introduce phonics through oral blending and oral segmenting. This is the process of breaking down words into phonemes (the smallest units of sound). Oral blending is the process of saying these sounds then blending them together into a word. It helps children identify and hear phonemes in words and blend them together to read a word. It is important that children have plenty of experience of listening to adults modelling oral blending and joining in with oral blending activities before they are introduced to grapheme–phoneme correspondence (the letter shape).
In order for children to be ready to learn more formal phonics and for this to be successful we must ‘Tune into sounds’.
To enable children to begin to distinguish the initial sound in words, they need exposure to a range of games that develop this. In nursery we introduce these in the later half of the year for children that are ready. We play the following games:
- Play with sounds
- Bertha the bus goes to the zoo
- Name play
- Voice sounds
- What’s in the box?
What to Avoid!
It is important to avoid the following; these will not be helpful in developing children’s grapheme–phoneme correspondence or blending skills and can be detrimental to reading development.
- Asking children to guess words from the context or pictures, reading whole words or use of any other strategy to guess words.
- Teaching letter names (including singing alphabet songs). This is not helpful to children at this stage; it causes confusion. Letter names will be taught in Reception at an appropriate point, once digraphs have been introduced.
- Inaccurate enunciation of pure sounds (see the download ‘How to say the Phase 2 sounds’). There are also three videos which show you how to pronounce the sounds in the ‘For parents’ area of the website .
Reception and Year 1
Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
- We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
- Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term.
- We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress:
- Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
- Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
The expectation is that all children will complete the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds phonics programme by the end of Year 1.
Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read
- Any child who needs additional practice has daily Keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
Year 2 and Beyond
We understand that not all children will have completed the phonics scheme by the end of Year 1. This could be for a wide variety of reasons such as joining a year group late, arriving from overseas or simply needing extra time to consolidate learning, maybe as a result of the pandemic. Children needing extra support in Year 2 and beyond will be assessed by their teacher and the relevant interventions will be put in place.
- We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 or above who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics screening check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen.
- If any child has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least three times a week.
- We will continue to teach reading in the same way as Key Stage 1, for any child who still needs to practise reading with decodable books.
The children will continue to build on their phonic knowledge. They will focus on applying the correct sound to different words when writing. Children are always encouraged to use the 'Grow the Code' to support their reading and their writing.
Phonics Screening Check
The statutory Year 1 Phonics Screening Check takes place in June. The check is a list of 40 words which children will read one -to-one with a teacher. It will assess phonics skills and knowledge learned through Reception and Year 1and ensure that children have learned phonic decoding to an appropriate standard by the age of 6.
It will check that your child can:
- Sound out and blend graphemes in order to read simple words e.g. n-igh-t
- Read phonically decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words, e.g. cat, sand, windmill.
- Read a selection of nonsense words which are referred to as pseudo or alien words.
The phonics check will help teachers identify the children who need extra help so they can receive the support they need to improve their reading skills. These children will then be able to retake the check in year 2. Parents will be notified if their child has not met the threshold in Year 1 and will have to retake the test in Year 2.
support at home
These four videos show you how to pronounce the sounds. Notice how the children don’t add an ‘uh’ sound at the end, so they say: ‘t’ not ‘tuh’. Use the downloadable information to help your child remember how to write their letters and say their sounds.
How to say Phase 2 sounds taught in Reception Autumn 1
How to say Phase 2 sounds taught in Reception Autumn 2
How to say Phase 3 sounds taught in Reception Spring 1
How to say Phase 5 sounds taught throughout Year 1
The videos below show you how we teach your child specific aspects of phonics in class:
The following downloadable guides show how children are taught to say their sounds.