Powell’s Phonic Intent
At Powell’s we follow the Letters and Sounds principles and practice of high quality phonics (Primary National Strategy 2007). Phonics is taught daily as a discrete lesson for at 20-25 minutes in both Early Years and Key Stage 1. Children start their phonics lessons right from the very beginning of school. Following the sequence of learning set out in Letters and Sounds, each sound is introduced using the actions from Jolly Phonics. By using this multisensory and kinaesthetic approach of learning, children are more actively engaged in their phonics lessons, ideal for wriggly 4 year olds!
Progression of Phonics Skills
Each discrete phonics lesson follows the set structure from Letters and Sounds;
- Revisit and Review - children begin each session by reviewing their past learning and the sounds they already know.
- Teach - introducing the new content.
- Practise - time is then spent practising their blending and segmenting skills.
- Apply - looking at how this phonic knowledge can be applied to enable us to blend (read) and segment (spell/write).
The six-phases of the Letters and Sounds document provides a structure for teachers from which teachers plan for children’s progression. The boundaries between the phases are not fixed, allowing teachers to plan across the phases depending on the individual class needs. Teachers’ assessment of individual children will inform the rate at which their children are able to progress through the phases.
Early Years (Reception)
The children begin their phonics journey right from the beginning of starting school.
- In the Autumn Term, Early Years (Reception children) are introduced to all of the sounds in Phase 2 and Phase 3. Time is then spent reviewing this knowledge and learning how to apply it to read and write words independently. Depending upon the nature of each cohort, we will aim to introduce Phase 4 in the final half of the summer term.
- The children in Early Years have discrete phonics teaching input daily by teachers and support staff. The formal sessions last for twenty to twenty-five minutes and phonics activities are also part of the continuous provision that the children can access independently throughout the day. Phase 1 is also taught alongside Phases 2 – 6 as although it is introduced in Pre School, the concepts of rhythm, rhyme, blending and segmenting covered in Phase 1 are important skills needed for both reading and spelling.
- As soon as the children have learnt the first set of sounds they then have enough phonic knowledge to start to read short words such as it, in, sat, tan. Once they are able to blend, the children are then given a word box which holds words containing the sounds they know. The children then take their word boxes home to practice their blending skills and the words are changed weekly following the same progression of sounds set out in Letters and Sounds.
- When the children are able to read individual words, they then move on to reading short sentences and are ready to take home a reading book. The books at Powell’s follow the book band colours and have been aligned to Letters and Sounds (see table below). The early levels (Pink and Red) have been fine graded to match the progression of the sets of sounds and the order they are taught. Pink 1/2 features words containing the sounds in sets 1 and 2, Pink 3 contains the sounds in sets 1,2 and 3 and so on. This fine grading allows the children to access the books earlier on and really support the children’s phonics and reading progress. It also helps to ensure that children are taking home books containing the sounds they know – therefore practicing the skills needed and ensuring the child is able to read their own book, making it an enjoyable experience which helps to establish that all important love of learning at an early stage.
- Guided reading starts at the beginning of Early Years; here children read the same text in a group with a member of staff. In these sessions, they learn the basics of reading a book such as reading from front to back, turning pages in the correct direction as well as applying their phonic skills having the support from the staff member to decode what the book says. The group are then able to discuss the book, talking about what they have read, what they think will happen next, the pictures in the book etc. This discussion will develop the children’s comprehension skills and will help them to understand the value and purpose of books. During these guided reading sessions the children read books a level above the ones they take home, this allows staff to be able to see who is ready to move on to the next level with their home books.
- Word boxes and Book Band levels are all based on the individual child’s knowledge and progress, therefore different children will have different word box and reading book levels dependent on their individual ability.
- Children progress on their writing journey in Early Years and use their phonic skills to segment words to spell. Writing happens at different points throughout the day, as part of the daily discrete phonics lesson, during the children’s play in continuous provision, as part of other lessons etc. All of these tasks show the children the purpose of writing and how they can use their phonic skills to communicate meaning through print.
In the first half of the Autumn term, Year 1 will revise Phases 2 and 3 to ensure that previous learning is consolidated and embedded alongside Phase 4 and will then move on to Phase 5. At the end of Year 1 the children will carry out the Dfe Phonics Screening Check.
- All of the systems in place in Early Years, daily discrete phonics sessions, guided reading, books bands continue in Year 1 ensuring the children are given the opportunity to apply their increasing phonic knowledge.
- Discrete phonics lessons continue in addition to reading and English lessons. All of which ensure children are given the opportunity to review previous phonics knowledge and to apply it for both reading and spelling/writing.
- Children now also being to take home key words to learn how to read and spell – again these follow the progression set out in Letters and Sounds. These include the Dfe Year 1 common exception word list.
- Once children have completed the Book Band colour levels up to Turquoise they will have become competent at using their knowledge of Phases 2-5 to decode; following this they then move on to Accelerated Reader in order to develop their comprehension skills further.
It is important that the five phases of Letters and Sounds are embedded and the children have a solid understanding of the key knowledge and skills before the final sixth phase is introduced in Year 2. Phase 6 mainly focuses on common spelling rules and patterns.
- Discrete phonics lessons continue for all children. At the beginning of the Autumn term in Year 2 phonics will focus on revision of phase 5 content; following this they will then move on to the spelling rules in phase 6 whilst at the same time reviewing phase 5 alongside. Any children also requiring additional help with their phonics will also be given support through additional small group intervention sessions.
- Any child who was still working toward the expected level in the DFe Phonics Screening Check in Year 1 will retake the check again at the end of Year 2.
- In Year 2 the majority of the class will then move away from guided reading sessions to whole class reading lessons. For those who still need additional support small group guided reading sessions will continue and children will still work through the Book Band colour until they have completed Turquoise level and ready for Accelerated Reader.
- The spellings sent home follow the weekly content of the phonic/spelling lessons and the children also learn how to spell the common exception/high frequency words.
- Children will of course be given lots of writing opportunities in English lessons and across the curriculum where they can apply all of the phonic knowledge they have built up since Early Years.
For any children who still need phonics support beyond Year 2 there are a range of strategies and resources we use. Phonics lessons will continue and support programs such as Nessy, No Nonsense Phonics are also be used. Dependent on the individual phonic needs, additional sessions are put in place for the identified children, usually in small groups. For any KS2 children who still need to access phonic reading books we have sets of phonic books that contain content more suitable and enjoyable for the older children in Key Stage 2.
Classroom Learning Environment for Phonics
Each classroom in Early Years and Key Stage 1 has a Phonics Working Wall. Here the sounds that the children are currently working on are displayed with words and sentences containing those sounds. The wall also displays the sounds that the children have already covered to help keep this knowledge prominent in their minds and so the children can clearly see how these sounds are written.
The children’s phonic knowledge is assessed regularly and the phonic lessons are planned in response to this. Any children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge are quickly identified and given support in the form of additional phonics sessions often as part of a small group.
All phonics sessions, both whole class and small group, are delivered in a fun and engaging way. A wide range of resources and strategies are used to ensure the children are interactive. Here are a few examples of some core strategies and resources we use:
Clear Pronunciation –pure sounds only
Phoneme Frame – put each sound in a box
Sound Buttons – mark each sound with a dot or dash
Phoneme Fingers – count the sounds
Sound Fans – ‘use your fan to show me…’