We are committed to teaching reading and spelling through a systematic, synthetic phonics programme. The programme we use is the DfE-approved Twinkl Phonics. This programme offers a coherently planned sequence of lessons that supports the effective teaching of phonics within Reception and Key Stage 1.
Children begin learning phonics at the very beginning of Reception and it is explicitly taught every day. In Reception, the children work within Levels 2-4, where they are introduced to phonemes/sounds and graphemes/letters systematically. They learn to develop and apply blending and segmenting skills for reading and writing.
In Key Stage 1, the children work within Levels 5 and 6. In Level 5, the children apply their phonics knowledge and skills as the prime approach to reading and spelling. It focuses on phonetically decodable two-syllable and three-syllable words and the alternative ways of pronouncing and representing the long vowel phonemes. Furthermore, the children also develop their ability to attempt to read and spell increasingly complex words. During Level 6, the children explore spelling patterns and grammar whilst also developing a breadth of knowledge, skills and understanding in the recognition and spelling of common exception words.
Across all levels, the children learn to read and spell ‘tricky words’. These are words that are not fully decodable at that particular stage of learning.
Through our phonics sessions, the children are provided with opportunities not only to develop the knowledge, skills and understanding essential for reading and writing, but also to develop their confidence, resilience and engagement in the phonics lessons.
Phonics lessons begin very soon after the children start Reception in September, and the length of these lessons steadily builds during the course of the year. Phonics is taught daily in Reception and Year 1; phonics/SPAG is taught daily in Year 2.
Our phonics programme is delivered through the stories and adventures of Kit, Sam and the Twinkl phonics family. The scheme builds and develops the skills and understanding the children need to become effective, independent readers and writers. The lessons build continuously on prior learning and the programme is used across the appropriate year groups to ensure maximum impact. By following one scheme with fidelity, we establish a progressive, consistent phonics curriculum where children progress and succeed.
There are four key elements that children need to master in order to read and write fluently: rapid recall of GPCs (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondences); rapid recall of tricky/common exception words; efficient blending skills; efficient segmenting skills. These four skills represent the cornerstones of phonics and must be practised every day to ensure children make the expected progress. The structure of every lesson follows a five-part pattern to ensure that the four cornerstones of phonics are covered: revisit and review; teach; practise; apply; assess.
When introducing sounds, we are careful to use ‘pure sounds’ – that is, pronouncing phonemes without adding the extra ‘uh’, for example, ‘s’ is ‘ssss’ not ‘suh’.
Pupils undertake half-termly phonics assessments using Phonics Tracker, to identify any GPCs which they are not yet secure with. Reports from these half-termly assessments are used to inform the planning of interventions so that they are tailored to the pupils’ areas of need. Our aim is to quickly identify pupils who are not making expected progress and to help children ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’.
Each child takes home a phonics keyring, which includes all of the GPCs and tricky words which they have learnt within the phase so far, so that they can re-visit them in short, sharp bursts each day from home.
Children are encouraged to read at home daily and they are listened to regularly in school, on an individual basis and in guided reading sessions. Pupils are given books that match the GPCs which are being taught in school each week, in order for them to apply their learning with the aim of becoming successful, confident and fluent readers.
A Phonics Workshop for parents is held each academic year, organised by the Phonics and English Leads. The aim of the workshop is to deepen parents’ understanding of the phonics curriculum and how they can support their child’s learning from home.
Through the consistent, systematic and daily teaching of the Twinkl Phonics Programme, our aim is for children to become fluent, confident readers by the end of Key Stage One. It also prepares children for the statutory Year 1 Phonics Screening Check. Following the programme gives us a consistent approach to phonics, which is clear to staff and learners.
Through the Twinkl Phonics Programme, children will be equipped with the skills necessary to decode unfamiliar words using strategies that they have been taught in their daily lessons. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school. Hopefully, this leads to a love of reading, and children taking pleasure in exploring the rich literary world around them, with a firm phonic basis to support them.