With reading being at the very heart of the Morley Victoria Curriculum and the very top priority, phonics sits alongside this as a vital tool in helping children to learn to read. Our children benefit from a structured teaching programme that is followed consistently by all staff, who are trained to a high level by the Early Reading and Phonics Leaders. All staff have high expectations of what the children can achieve; and strive for this. The children in Early Years and Year 1 learn new sounds every day as well as practising the ones they already know. Staff then give children a reading book that contain the words and sounds that they have already learned in school so that they can practice these skills at home. If anyone starts to fall behind in phonics, this is picked up very quickly and intervention put in place to help the child catch up and keep up. We encourage families to play their part in helping a child to learn to read so we make sure that we teach families to do this in the way we do it in school to ensure consistency.
The teaching of phonics at Morley Victoria begins in Nursery and continues throughout school.
As a school, we follow the Letters and Sounds (2007) documentation, which includes six phases of learning. We use Read, Write, Inc (RWI) resources to support our teaching.
As a school, we teach the phonics phases in the following way:
- Nursery – Phases 1 - 2
- Reception – Phases 1 - 4
- Year 1 – Phases 3 - 5
- Year 2 – Phases 5 - 6
- Year 3 – Phases 5 - 6
However, we are acutely aware that within each year group there may be children who are not working at the above outlined phases. This may be because they are working above or below their age-related expectations and we cater to every child’s individual needs.
In Nursery, Phase One phonics is embedded throughout the school day in. This is done through high quality provision, modelled speaking and listening, enjoying and sharing books, rhymes, song and poems and the language rich environment we provide. In addition, there are daily adult let activities which focus on the seven aspects and three stands of Phase One teaching:
- Aspect 1: General sound discrimination – environmental sounds
- Aspect 2: General sound discrimination – instrumental sounds
- Aspect 3: General sound discrimination – body percussion
- Aspect 4: Rhythm and rhyme
- Aspect 5: Alliteration
- Aspect 6: Voice sounds
- Aspect 7: Oral blending and segmenting
Each aspect is divided into three strands:
- Tuning into sounds (auditory discrimination)
- Listening and remembering sounds (auditory memory and sequencing)
- Talking about sounds (developing vocabulary and language comprehension)
Activities within the seven aspects are designed to help children:
- listen attentively;
- enlarge their vocabulary;
- speak confidently to adults and other children;
- discriminate phonemes;
- reproduce audibly the phonemes they hear, in order, all through the word;
- use sound-talk to segment words into phonemes
As and when the children are ready to do so, they begin to learn Phase Two grapheme phoneme correspondences, alongside their Phase One learning.
In Reception and Key Stage 1, we have daily phonics lessons which are taught to the children in short, fast-paced sessions and the children are split into groups according to their ability. This allows us to cater for the needs of each individual child and their current phase of learning. The groups are fluid and informed by regular assessment. We also rotate the staff members who teach each group during the academic year. The graphemes in Phases Two to Five are introduced using Read Write Inc. flash cards which have engaging pictures with accompanying rhymes and actions. We find that these are highly effective with helping the children remember each new grapheme phoneme correspondence. These are displayed in the classrooms and referred to throughout our teaching.
In Year 1 (sometime in June), the children are assessed on their ability to use phonics by completing the Phonics Screening which is a national assessment completed by all Year 1 children. During the screening, the children are required to read 40 words, 20 real words and 20 nonsense words. The children use their knowledge of the graphemes to read these words. The children receive a pass or fail and over recent years the pass mark has been 32/40, however this is subject to change. If the children do not reach the pass mark, they then resit the screening in Year 2. The screening is completed by the Year 1 class teachers and is very relaxed, with the children simply thinking they are reading some words with their teacher.
By the end of Year 2, the majority of children will have completed all of the six phases. For those children who are not secure with Phases One to Six, they will continue to receive targeted phonics teaching into Key Stage 2.