Early Reading and Phonics
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At Macaulay Primary Academy our approach to teaching early reading and synthetic phonics is systematic and ensures that children have the opportunity to learn how to read words and sentences accurately. For the teaching of phonics we use the DfE Letters and Sounds programme throughout the whole academy. In every session children have the opportunity to revisit, learn, practise and apply this new learning. Throughout this children are exposed to real and alien words using sounds buttons to aid with the decoding. Children are then encouraged to use phoneme frames within lessons to help them spell new words.
In nursery children will begin their phonic journey on phase 1. Phase 1 focuses on developing children’s listening skills.
They will do this through listening for environmental and instrumental sounds, alliteration, rhythm and rhyme and voice sounds ultimately allowing the children to orally blend and segment words e.g. hearing that c-a-t makes ‘cat’. Children will then move onto Phase 2 at the start of the reception year. In Phase 2, children begin to learn the sounds that letters make (phonemes). There are 44 sounds in all. Some are made with two letters (digraph), but in Phase 2, children focus on learning the 19 most common single letter sounds. By the end of Phase 2 children should be able to read some vowel-consonant (VC) and consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words, and spell them out. They also learn some high frequency ‘tricky words’ like ‘the’ and ‘go.’
Phase 3 comes next with children being introduced to the remaining, more difficult and/or less commonly used phonemes mainly made up of two letters such as /ch/, /ar/, /ow/ and /ee/. Alongside this, children are taught to recognise more tricky words, including ‘me,’ ‘was,’ ‘my,’ ‘you’ and ‘they’. They learn the names of the letters, as well as the sounds they make. Activities might include learning mnemonics (memory aids) for tricky words, practising writing letters on mini whiteboards, using word cards and singing songs like the Alphabet Song. By the end of Phase 3, they should be able to say the sound made by most, or all, Phase 2 and 3 graphemes, blend and read CVC words made from these graphemes and read 12 new tricky words.
Key Stage One
Children in Year 1 continue their phonic journey on Phase 4. Phase 4 concentrates on consolidating and refining the children’s knowledge, introducing more spelling patters and tricky words. Children will practise reading and spelling CVCC words, read and spell high frequency words, practise reading and writing sentences and learn more tricky words including have and like. This allows children to become more confident when blending words together. Where needed, children take part in phonics intervention at the appropriate phase for their ability. This is offered as bespoke, high quality sessions four times a week to give children the opportunity to revisit and consolidate learning from the morning phonics session.
Children will then move onto Phase 5 where they learn new graphemes (different ways of spelling each sound) and alternative pronunciations for these: for example, learning that the grapheme ‘ow’ makes a different sound in ‘snow’ and ‘cow’. They learn about split digraphs such as the a-e in ‘name.’ They’ll start to choose the right graphemes when spelling, and will learn more tricky words, including ‘people,’ ‘water’ and ‘friend’. They also learn one new phoneme: /zh/, as in ‘treasure.’ Phase 6 phonics takes place throughout Year 2, with the aim of children becoming 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
- Decoding them aloud
Within Phase 6 children will learn how to use prefixes, suffixes, about past tense, new spelling rules and when to use apostrophes. As you will see (and hear) as you walk around our academy, reading is a huge priority at Macaulay and underpins everything we do, allowing children to access the full curriculum offer.
All children who are accessing phonics sessions take home a phonic decodable book which is precisely matched to their phonic ability. These books are changed on a weekly basis which allows parents and children to celebrate their reading success. All parents are invited to take part in workshops so they can support their children’s learning at home and to have an understanding of the Year 1 phonics screening check.
The teaching structure in KS1 is as follows:
Key Stage Two
Where needed, children take part in phonics intervention at the appropriate phase for their ability. This is offered as bespoke, high quality sessions twice a week ensuring that all children leave our academy as fluent readers. All children who are accessing phonics sessions take home a phonic decodable book which is precisely matched to their phonic ability. These books are changed on a weekly basis which allows parents and children to celebrate their reading success.
As you will see (and hear) as you walk around our academy, reading is a huge priority at Macaulay and underpins everything we do, allowing children to access the full curriculum offer.