In order to be a successful reader, you need the ability to blend sounds and letters, as well as the ability to show understanding of what you are reading. These two skills rely on each other – you cannot be a skilled reader without both skills. Phonics is the technical part of learning to read.
Synthetic phonics is a method used for teaching reading and writing by hearing and identifying sound patterns in words. At Holy Trinity we use the scheme ‘Read Write Inc’ to teach phonics. The scheme uses rhyme and visual representation to help children memorise sounds (phonemes) and learn how these are represented with letters (graphemes). Lessons are daily, are approximately fifteen minutes long and taught at a quick pace. In these lessons, the children review their learning, are taught a new sound or skill, practise this and then apply it. There are six phases for teaching phonics. A brief explanation of each is shown below.
In Phase 1, early phonics teaching focuses on developing children’s listening skills.
In Phase 2, children begin to learn the sounds that letters make (phonemes).
Phase 3 introduces children to the remaining, more difficult and/or less commonly used phonemes, such as /ch/, /ar/, /ow/ and /ee/.
In Phase 4 children consolidate what they have already learnt. By the end of this phase, children should now be blending confidently to work out new words.
Throughout all of these phases, children are also taught tricky words which cannot be sounded out.
In Phase 5, children learn new graphemes (different ways of spelling each sound) and alternative pronunciations for these.
The aim of Phase 6 is for children to become fluent readers and accurate spellers.
By Phase 6, children should be able to read hundreds of words using one of three strategies: Reading them automatically, decoding them quickly and silently and decoding them aloud. Children should now be spelling most words accurately (this is known as 'encoding').
Although formal phonics teaching is usually complete by the end of Year 2, children continue to use their knowledge as they move up the school. The whole aim of phonics teaching is not just to learn the sounds, but to use them as a tool for reading and spelling.
Using their phonics knowledge as a foundation, children continue to learn spelling rules each year following the statutory requirement guidance in the National Curriculum. Each year group has an appendix with listed spelling rules that will be revised and covered across the year.
Included in the National Curriculum are word lists for years 3 and 4 and years 5 and 6, these are statutory. The lists are a mixture of words pupils frequently use in their writing and those which are often misspelt. Children are expected to be able to use and spell these words by the end of year 4 or year 6.
Spelling is taught in class and in intervention groups. It is built into each classes’ timetable.
At Holy Trinity we follow the Nelson Handwriting programme of study by from Oxford Owl. Nelson Handwriting is a whole-school programme designed to help all children develop a confident, legible and personal handwriting style and meet higher curriculum expectations.