Curriculum - Phonics

PhonicsAs a junior school, the majority of our children begin their school life at Birchwood with a good understanding of phonetic sound reading and have passed the phonics screen. However, children who are identified as not having met the end of Key Stage 1 National Curriculum expectations for reading by the English Reading Lead are selected to take part in phonics lessons. Children are then grouped by their word reading and fluency level, and not by their progress in comprehension and writing, into broad speed sound groups. Assessments take place on a termly basis, using the Read Write Inc. (RWI) Assessment trackers, and groupings are fluid to promote rapid progression through the speed sound sets.

In RWI Phonics lessons, children learn to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension. They learn to form each letter, spell correctly and compose their ideas step-by-step. Throughout the programme, children learn the English alphabetic code; the 150+ graphemes that represent the 44 speech sounds. They rapidly learn phonemes and the letter or groups of letters they need to represent them in speed sound lessons, which are taught and consolidated every day. High frequency words that are not regular are taught as 'tricky words' (we call them red words) and are practised frequently. Children are expected to read nonsense words (we call these alien words) as a method of assessment, checking that children are able to independently blend the newly taught sound.

Lively phonics books are closely matched to children's increasing knowledge of phonics and red words so that, early on, they experience plenty of success in reading. Repeated readings of the texts support their increasingly fluent decoding. A thought provoking introduction, prompts for thinking out loud and discussion helps teachers ensure that children comprehend what they are reading. Teachers read aloud and discuss picture books with similar themes to those in the Storybooks, so children build up background knowledge ready for the next Storybook. Phonics lessons will continue for individual children, until they are able to access class reading material and spellings.

Children are also facilitated with the opportunity to write simple words every day, building on their success. They rehearse out loud what they want to write and learn, to compose sentence by sentence, until they are confident enough to write independently at the level of their spelling knowledge (that is, they use their phonetic knowledge of the alphabetic code and red words they have learnt).

The Local Authority Specialist Teaching Team will be commissioned to complete assessments of children identified as making less than expected progress within phonics.

Useful Information and Helpful Websites

Parent's Guide To Phonics RWI Speed Sound Set List Oxford Owl Read Write Inc. guide for parents Ruth Miskin Training (Facebook) RuthMiskinedu (Twitter)