At Witchampton C of E First School, we believe that the ability to read is fundamental to pupils’ development as independent learners, during their time at school and beyond. Reading is central to our ability to understand, interpret and communicate with each other and the world around us. It is important to lay firm foundations in this crucial area of the curriculum and establish a consistent whole school approach to the teaching of phonics. We have developed and mapped out the progression of phonics across Early Years and Key Stage 1 to ensure the effectiveness of the teaching and learning of phonics.
Unlocking Letters and Sounds
We use Unlocking Letters and Sounds which was validated by the DfE in December 2021.
We begin teaching phonics in the first few weeks of term 1 in Reception and children make rapid progress in their reading journey. Children begin to learn the main sounds heard in the English Language and how they can be represented, as well as learning ‘Common Exception’ words for Phases 2, 3 and 4. They use these sounds to read and write simple words, captions and sentences. Children leave Reception being able to apply the phonemes taught within Phase 2, 3 and 4.
In Year 1 through Phase 5a, b and c, they learn any alternative spellings and pronunciations for the graphemes and additional Common Exception Words. By the end of Year 1 children will have mastered using phonics to decode and blend when reading and segment when spelling. In Year 1 all children are screened using the national Phonics Screening Check.
In Year 2, phonics continues to be revisited to ensure mastery of the phonetic code and any child who does not meet age related expectations will continue to receive support to close identified gaps. For further details please see the Unlocking Letters and Sounds progression here.
To ensure no child is left behind at any point in the progression, children are regularly assessed and supported to keep up through bespoke 1-1 interventions. These include GPC recognition and blending and segmenting interventions. The lowest attaining 20% of pupils are closely monitored to ensure these interventions have an impact.
At Witchampton C of E First School we promote a 'phonics first' approach and in our reading sessions at school and in the books children take home. The texts are very closely matched to a child's current phonics knowledge so that every child can experience real success in their reading. In these crucial early stages of reading we primarily use books from Ransom Reading Stars Phonics, Phonics Bugs and Project X to ensure complete fidelity to the Unlocking Letters and Sounds progression we follow.
Once children progress beyond decodable texts, they move onto our book scheme so that they can continue to progress in their decoding, fluency and comprehension skills to become avid, expert readers.