English - Phonics
At Maple Grove Primary School, we prioritise the foundations of reading and writing. Our phonics lessons are incorporated into daily learning, but we also go beyond that by providing opportunities throughout the curriculum to reinforce phonics teaching. This approach helps children to apply what they've learned and make relevant connections to their lives.
What are Phonics?
Phonics is designed to help teach children to read and spell by teaching the skills of segmenting and blending, the alphabetic code and an understanding of how this is used in reading and spelling. It is sounding out a word and blending the sounds back together to read the whole word. When writing, it is hearing the sounds in a word and writing them down to spell it correctly. From September 2021, we are teaching Phonics in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised (2021) programme. This is a systematic synthetic phonics programme, validated by the Department for Education.
Spoken English uses about 42 sounds (phonemes). These phonemes are represented by letters (graphemes). The alphabet contains only 26 letters, but we use it to make all the graphemes that represent the phonemes of English. In other words, a sound can be represented by a letter (e.g. ‘s’) or a group of letters (e.g. ‘th’ or ‘igh’). Once children begin learning letters, they are used as quickly as possible in reading and spelling words. Children can then see the purpose of learning letters. For this reason, the first six letters taught are ‘s’, ‘a, ‘t’, ‘p’, ‘i’, ‘n’. These can immediately be used to make a number of words such as ‘sat’, ‘pin’, ‘pat’, ‘tap’, ‘nap’. Following this, children learn sounds and the letters that represent them in a particular order. Our Phonic Reader books are organised in the same order, so the children can practise reading the sounds and words they learn in lessons.
How can I help my child?
As a parent, your involvement in supporting your child’s learning will be a vital factor in determining their success in learning to read. You will receive a weekly Home Learning letter with the focus sounds and words for the week that you can play games with. Magnetic letters are a fun multi-sensory way to learn letters and develop reading and spelling skills. Games such as I-Spy (using the letter sound) are also effective.
How do I know if my child is saying the sounds correctly?
Children must pronounce the sounds. To help you support your child with this, go to the How to say the sounds page. These three videos show you how to pronounce the sounds. Notice how the children don’t add an ‘uh’ sound at the end, so they say: ‘t’ not ‘tuh’. Use the downloadable information to help your child remember how to write their letters and say their sounds.
How is Phonics assessed?
Phonics is assessed continuously during phonics lessons when your child reads and through a half-termly assessment. This helps teachers identify and plan for the children’s next steps to ensure they progress.
What is the Phonics Screening Check?
There is a National Phonics Screening Check in Year 1 (in June) where the children have to read 20 actual words and 20 ‘alien’ words (described below) containing sounds from Phase Two to Five. This is conducted in a very child-friendly way by the class teachers. At the end of Year 1, you will be informed if your child has met the threshold score for the check. If they have not met the threshold, they will be given additional support in Year 2 to enable them to complete it.
Video link to a guide to Alien Words and Tricky words.
Click links below for guides on tricky words.