Phonics – Intent, Implementation, and Impact
At Sunnyside Primary Academy, we want to equip all our pupils with a secure phonic knowledge that enables them to read and write successfully. We value reading and writing as a key life skill and are dedicated to providing the children with the phonic knowledge, application and skills to enable everyone to have lifelong quality skills to access and enjoy reading. Children will be able to apply their understanding of letters and sounds to decode a range of words which in turn will allow them to read books that are closely matched to their phonic knowledge. When writing, children will be able to make phonically plausible attempts at unfamiliar words, enabling them to write with an appropriate level of independence for their age. They will also be able to use their phonic knowledge to correctly apply a range of spelling rules to words.
Striving for Excellence:
The systematic teaching of phonics has a high priority throughout the Foundation Stage, in KS1 and (beyond if necessary). Whole class teaching allows for all children to access phonics teaching and careful assessment ensures that those children who require some extra support receive timely intervention order to support them to ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’. We aim for all children to reach the expected level of phonics in both their reading and writing and can apply their knowledge across a range of activities.
Through the teaching of phonics, children build up their vocabulary linked to letters and their sounds and children are challenged to apply their phonics knowledge when reading and writing a wide range of vocabulary. They are explicitly taught key words related to phonics such as phoneme, grapheme, digraph and trigraph to support them in their understanding of how words are spelt.
We encourage and support parents to build upon phonics learning in school and promote reading and writing tasks at home to enable such practice. Workshops are held to equip parents and carers with the skills needed to support home learning in phonics.
Expanding Cultural Experiences:
Resources which match children’s cultural and social backgrounds are used to help engage children in their phonics learning. They will see characters and stories which relate to their lives, thus making reading experiences relatable. In addition, resources used to teach phonics offer opportunity for children to engage in discussion about similarities and differences between people and communities.
We follow the order of Letters and Sounds when teaching phonics to our children and use Twinkl Phonics to support this. Children from EYFS to Year 2 are taught phonics daily and if needed, children in Year 3 (and beyond) continue their phonic learning if their level of phonics has not met the Year 1 phonic screening check. For children working in KS2, ‘Codebreakers’ is used to support older learners in learning phonics. On top of daily phonics teaching, children also access intervention support to reinforce and secure their phonic skills and knowledge.
Phonics is planned in a four-part lesson format – revisit/review, teach, practise and apply. This keeps the teaching across all classes consistent and focused on the teaching and application of skills. All staff are trained in using the Twinkl Phonics approach and have access to the online resources to support teaching. Lessons are fast paced, physical and focused which has a positive impact on our children’s learning of phonics. Every lesson enables the children to revise what they have learnt so far, learn new phonemes/digraphs/trigraphs, practise their skills and apply them to reading and writing. Phonic knowledge and skills are assessed half termly using Phonic Tracker, but also daily, through the lessons themselves, allowing teachers the opportunity to provide additional support in the moment if needed.
Twinkl Phonics offers an engaging multisensory approach where children hear a story related to the specific sound, learn mnemonics, actions, songs and handwriting skills related to each sound. Follow-up activities are planned for children to embed new skills and they are given fully decodable reading books to read both in school and at home which match the sounds they have learnt. E-books (Rhino Readers) are used both in school and links are send to parents to enable children to share online books (again matched to the sounds children have learnt) at home as well. Classrooms represent the phonics learning and a display of the sounds learnt is built up over time. Children are encouraged to use such visuals to support them when applying their learning. Tricky words are taught alongside sounds and this enables the children to learn to read and write simple phrases very early on.
Children feel confident in using their phonic knowledge and the strategies that they have been taught to read words. This helps them to access a range of material and, in turn, fosters a love of reading. By taking home books that are closely matched to their phonic knowledge, children can celebrate reading success with their parents and carers which will give them the confidence and motivation to read regularly. This will have a positive impact on the progress that they make. Children will be able to make phonically plausibly attempts at spelling words and therefore communicate their ideas in writing across a range of subjects and for a range of purposes both in and out of school. Based on their phonic knowledge, children can make good spelling choices and spell many words correctly.
In short, we aspire for our pupils to:
• read at an age-appropriate level with fluency which enables them to access the broader curriculum
• develop a life-long love of reading where they read widely and often, with fluency and comprehension.
• Achieve well at EYFS, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 assessment points
• Have the required phonics skills to pass Year 1 phonic screening check on the first attempt
However, we firmly believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond the results of the statutory assessments.
Phonics at Sunnyside
We want children to have the skills to decode words in order to be able to read fluently with understanding of what they have read. We aim to encourage a love of literature and an enjoyment of reading for pleasure, and to use reading to provoke thought within children. The teaching of phonics is of high priority in our school.
SSP – Systematic synthetic phonics - Synthetic phonics is a method of teaching where words are broken up into the smallest units of sound (phonemes). ... The 'synthetic' part of this particular phonics instruction derives from the process of synthesizing or blending sounds to create words.
At Sunnyside, we are proud to teach phonics through Twinkl phonics, a fun and engaging model that incorporates blending and segmenting and Rhino reader books into the lives of our Twinkl phonics family:
Twinkl phonics includes many resources that can be shared between school and home to support students. Rhino readers are the reading books that form part of the scheme and follow the lives and adventures of Kit and Sam.
Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of key stage 1. Children can then focus on developing fluency and comprehension throughout the school. Attainment in phonics is measured by the phonics screening test at the end of year 1.
Sometimes, a child may need to continue their phonics learning alongside their learning in Key Stage 2. We continue to use the decodable readers and rhino readers alongside Codebreakers. Codebreakers is Twinkl phonics aimed at supporting older children to continue to learn phonics discretely.
Year 1 Phonics Screening Check - a Guide for Parents
What is the phonics screening check? The phonics screening check is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonics knowledge. It helps the school confirm whether your child has made the expected progress.
The national phonics screening check was introduced in 2012 to all Year 1 pupils in the country. It is a short, statutory assessment to ensure that children are making sufficient progress in the phonics skills to read words and are on track to become fluent readers who can enjoy reading for pleasure and for learning.
How does the check work? Your child will sit with the class teacher and will be asked to read 40 words aloud. The test normally takes a few minutes. If your child is struggling the teacher will stop the check. The check is carefully designed not to be stressful for your child. The check consists of a list of 40 words, half real words and half nonsense words, the nonsense words will be shown to your child with a picture of an alien. This not only makes the check a bit more fun, but provides the children with a context for the nonsense word which is independent from any existing vocabulary they may have.
Why Pseudo Words/non- words / nonsense words / alien words? Non-words are important to include as they can’t be read using their vocabulary or from memory; they have to use their decoding skills. This is a fair way to assess all children’s ability to decode.
After the check We will inform you on your child’s progress towards the end of the Summer term. If your child found the test tricky we will inform you of what support we have put in place to help them improve and what you can do at home to help them as well. Children who have not met the standard will retake the check when they are in Year 2. All children are individuals and all develop at different rates. The screening check ensures that teachers understand which children need extra help with phonic decoding.
How can you help your child? In school we are continually checking your children’s phonic development within our approach to the assessment of reading. This screening forms part of our overall assessment procedure. However, there are a number of things that parents can do to support early reading skill development.
- Let your child see you enjoying reading yourself – they are influenced by you and what you value!
- Immerse your child in a love of reading: share books and magazines with your child, take them to the library to choose books, read to them regularly, point out texts around you, e.g. in the street etc.
- Make time for your child to read school books to you regularly – encourage them by pointing to the words and ask them about the story they are reading.
If you have any further questions, please talk to your child’s class teacher.