The primary approach to teaching pupils to read at Eastfield Primary school is through the systematic teaching of synthetic phonics. This means that phonics is explicit, organised, sequenced and covers all of the grapheme-phoneme correspondences in the English Language. At Eastfield we follow the ‘Letters and Sounds’ six-phase programme; this is a structured programme which introduces pupils to phonemes and graphemes in a specific order within the context of a language-rich curriculum. By following the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme effectively, pupils are able to see the relationship between reading and spelling from an early stage, such that the teaching of one reinforces understanding of the other.
During phonics lessons, the children are in grouped by ability. This enables the children to receive teaching which is tailored to their level. Furthermore, the children are regularly assessed and are phonics screened on a half termly basis. This allows any children which have fallen off trajectory to receive daily interventions.
To support the children outside of their phonics lessons, we provide the children with a rich reading environment. It is our belief that children should be engaged in the exploration of exciting and stimulating contexts for reading words with purposes for learning. Within class and around school, the children are surrounded by a love for reading and will regularly be exposed to shared, guided and independent reading. Each of our classes share which book they are reading and have an author of the term which the children are able to explore.
Although by the end of Year 1 the teaching of phonics should be substantially complete, the teaching of word structures and spelling patterns continue to be learnt in Year 2 and this is further secured by the teaching and learning of spelling in Key Stage 2.
All children are screened in Phonics at the end of Year 1, those who do not reach the threshold are provided with intervention and re-take the phonics screening check in Year 2.
How often do we teach phonics?
To ensure that the children have as much exposure to reading as possible, phonics is taught twice daily. Those that require additional support receive further interventions in the afternoon. We ensure that these lessons are sequenced, fast paced and engaging, through the use of different fun, practical and hands on activities.
What is the structure of a phonics session at Eastfield Primary School?
This is the most crucial stage in the phonics session that keeps the children revisiting sounds that they have previously covered. We will often chant the sounds and say them in silly voices to help us remember them! At this stage the children also revisit tricky words which they need to be able to read and spell in their writing.
This is where the new sound is introduced. The children will be encouraged to skywrite (reinforcing correct formation of handwriting). The children also segment and blend words using robot arms.
The children will begin to segment and blend words with the new sound that they have been taught, they will also practise writing some of these words. Some games that we like to play during this part of the lesson include splat, beat the teacher and the missing word game!
The children will read a range of sentences containing the sound and tricky words and will begin to write a sentence containing the sound. Before writing our sentences, we make sure that we say it a few times by tapping our knees or clapping our hands. We then encourage the use of the fundamental elements of a sentence: capital letters, finger spaces and a full stop.