At St Wulstan’s we have a systematic approach to phonics teaching from Nursery – Year 2.
Children will be taught phase 1 phonics when they begin school in our Nursery. We put a real emphasis on phase 1, and this is fully embedded before children move on to learning sounds. We believe that this helps them to progress better when they begin to learn sounds and use these to blend and segment.
In Reception, all children will be taught Phase 2 and 3 sounds. This will help to reinforce the phase 2 sounds for children who may have started to learn them in their different Nursery settings, and phase 3 will be new learning for all. In Year 1, children will begin the Autumn term recapping Phase 3 before starting phase 5 phonics, where they will learn alternative pronunciations and spellings for sounds.
We use a whole class approach to phonics, underpinned by the DFE validated systematic programme, Supersonic Phonic Friends. Following this programme ensures all children receive consistency and continuity, allowing them to embed their learning and knowledge of words to become fluent readers as they move through the school. We made the decision to introduce the Supersonic Phonic Friends programme as it is underpinned by child friendly characters and illustrations that are accompanied by rhyming phrases. The lessons are enriched with movement and fundamental pre-writing skills that maximises the learning connections between hearing the phonemes and writing the graphemes. This connection allows the children to become excellent readers and have a strong love of reading as they develop their ability to blend and segment more challenging words. Whole class teaching is a central part of the teaching of phonics at St Wulstan’s. We strongly believe in this as it exposes all children to new learning every day. Throughout the phases there will also be a set of ‘tricky words’ to learn which are commonly used words that are not decodable. All staff in EYFS and KS1 have been fully trained in delivering the programme. To find out more about Supersonic Phonic Friends - click here.
Children that are not keeping up with the pace of the phonics programme are identified quickly through both ongoing observations and daily and termly assessments. Additional support in the form of one to one or small groups are offered to children either during the school day or during our morning or after school phonics clubs. Phonics Tracker is used to track children's progress, and to ensure targeted and individualised support to close gaps in learning.
In Year 2, pupils will learn the spelling rules set out in the National Curriculum.
Year 2 to Year 6 engage in Read, Write, Inc- Spellings. This is a comprehensive teaching programme, which ensures that spelling is consistently taught, in daily 15 minute sessions. Each pupil has a practice book, which supports their learning. There are videos clips with different characters to reinforce rules and patterns, and children engage in varied and challenging activities to support their learning.
We must remember that the automatic and effortless reading of all words is the ultimate goal for our children at St Wulstan’s!
Phonics curriculum intent.
Intent: what is our Phonics curriculum aspiring to achieve?
At St Wulstan’s Catholic Primary, phonics is taught so that it is accessible to all children through a whole class approach. Phonics is a key skill that supports the development of early reading and writing as outlined in the Reading Framework – Teaching the Foundations of Literacy (July 2021) and the English programmes of study in the National Curriculum. At St Wulstan’s, we combine quality phonic lessons with exposure to high quality story books, selected to reinforce sounds being taught, to promote the development of automatic and effortless reading of all words. This in turn will provide our pupils with the skills they need to have a successful start to their lives as readers and writers. We believe that a love for reading is the ultimate goal for our children as this will take them on a journey to make sense of the world through the expansion of vocabulary and imagination.
Our school has adopted the DFE validated systematic programme, Supersonic Phonic Friends. Using this programme, we intend our pupils to be able to:
Recognise, read and write all phonemes/graphemes within each phase.
Use their phonic knowledge to blend and segment phonetically decodable words.
Use their phonic knowledge to attempt to read and write more complex words.
Recognise, read and write common exception words that are not phonetically decodable.
Read age and ability appropriate texts fluently and with good understanding.
We believe that a love for reading is the ultimate goal for our children as this will take them on a journey to make sense of the world through the expansion of vocabulary and imagination.
Implementation: what do we do to deliver our intent?
Reflective staff with excellent subject knowledge who evaluate their teaching and are open to feedback to provide the best practice.
Our teaching provides children with a strong emphasis on rich vocabulary across the curriculum.
A cohesive and consistent approach to teaching phonics, using the validated synthetic programme, Supersonic Phonic Friends. The sessions follow the same structure each day; a consistent approach which children become familiar with quickly. Throughout this scheme, children are taught the 26 letters of the alphabet and that these represent 44 common sounds in the English language.
Daily phonics sessions of phase 1, 2, 3, 4 in Early Years and phase 3, 4, (review) and 5 in KS1, whereby the children are exposed to new phonemes to develop their ability to segment and blend then apply this knowledge to their reading and writing.
Throughout the phases there will also be a set of ‘tricky words’ to learn, which are commonly used words that are not decodable.
Phonics skills are also embedded in our English lessons to ensure that children are developing their skills to become fluent writers, not just readers.
Additional support in the form of targeted one to one or small group teaching during the teaching day to support those children who need extra support to develop their phonic knowledge.
Before and after school phonics clubs delivered by experienced staff.
Regular reading opportunities and story time for children in EYFS and KS1.
Daily spelling sessions across the key stages, in line with the spelling requirement set out in the National Curriculum.
Excellent partnerships between school and home, where staff and parents work together to support children in making good progress in their phonics learning.
Impact: how do we ensure that children are learning?
Assessment for learning is fundamental to raising standards and enabling children to reach their full potential in early reading. Assessment in phonics takes place daily using informal strategies and verbal discussions with children. This allows the teachers to plan for next steps and identify additional support where necessary. Termly assessments are then carried out to ensure that children are progressing at a good pace to support their phonics screening test at the end of Year 1. Again, this allows for additional support to be put into place where gaps are identified.
At the end of Year 1, children will complete a phonics screening test. This is a statutory assessment and data is collected by the Department of Education. Children who do not meet the pass threshold will retake the test in the summer term of Year 2.
We aim that the vast majority of our children will achieve this expectation and move forward into Year 2 to continue their learning of the spelling rules and patterns set out in the National Curriculum. We have achieved above national over the last three years and strive to continue to maintain this as a minimum expectation.