Phonics Curriculum – Letters and Sounds
At North Walsall, we strive to ensure that all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. Phonics provides the foundations of learning to make the development into fluent reading and writing easier. Phonics is the process that is used to help children break down words into sounds, as well as building letter and word recognition. Children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read the words. We aim to teach children to:
• read fluently, with expression and with good understanding
• develop the habit of reading widely and often
• write clearly, accurately and coherently
Phonics at North Walsall follows the Department of Education approved document “Letters and Sounds”. This allows our phonics teaching and learning to be progressive from Nursery up to Year 2 as well as allowing children’s listening and speaking skills to develop.
In Nursery and Reception, Phonics is taught daily through whole class teaching input and small group activities. As we progress into Year 1 and 2, the daily teaching of phonics is organised into groups depending on children’s prior Phonics knowledge, and looking at where individual’s need challenge or support. Where extra intervention is necessary, this is provided for children throughout Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 through SOS spellings and precision teaching.
Our structure of teaching letter sounds is derived from the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme which outlines six phonic phases, each with new phonemes to be learnt and increasing with difficulty as you progress from phase one to six.
Phase 1 – Activities concentrate on developing children’s speaking and listening skills: Environmental Sounds, Instrumental Sounds, Body Sounds, Rhythm and Rhyme, Alliteration, Voice Sounds and finally Oral Blending and Segmenting. This is taught in Nursery.
Phase 2 – Letters and their sounds are introduced one at a time. A set of letters is taught each week, in the following sequence:
Set 1: s, a, t, p
Set 2: i, n, m, d
Set 3: g, o, c, k
Set 4: ck, e, u, r
Set 5: h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss
As soon as each set of letters is introduced, children will be encouraged to use their knowledge of the letter sounds to blend and sound out words. For example, they will learn to blend the sounds s-a-t to make the word sat. They will also start learning to segment words. This is taught in Reception.
Phase 3 – By the time they reach Phase 3, children will already be able to blend and segment words containing the sounds taught in Phase 2. Over the twelve weeks which Phase 3 is expected to last, twenty-five new graphemes are introduced (one at a time). This is taught in Reception.
Set 6: j, v, w, x
Set 7: y, z, zz, qu
Consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng
Vowel digraphs: ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er
Tricky words: He, she, we, me, be, was, you, they, all, are, my, her
Phase 4 – No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump. Further tricky words are introduced in this phase including the following: said, have, like, so, do, some, come, were, there, little, one, when, out, what. This is taught in Y1.
Phase 5 – In Phase Five, children will learn more graphemes and phonemes. For example, they already know ai as in rain, but now they will be introduced to ay as in day and a-e as in make. Alternative pronunciations for graphemes will also be introduced, e.g. ea in tea, head and break. This is also taught in Y1.
During Phase 5, the following tricky words (which can’t yet be decoded) are introduced: Oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked, could.
Phase 6 – Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc. This is taught in Y2.
- All classes are equipped with a range of reading books to meet the needs of all children.
- All children in KS1 and KS2 are issued a reading book that is appropriate for their reading ability and is changed regularly. The books are levelled to match the children’s current phonological awareness where necessary. We expect family members at home to read these books with their child three times a week and make comments in their child’s reading record.
Our aim is that by the time children leave North Walsall Primary Academy, they are competent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a thirst for reading a range of genres, and participate in discussions about books. Throughout the teaching of Phonics, we are able to measure attainment using the Key Stage One and Key Stage Two national assessments, along with the information provided by the Phonics Screening check in Year One.