At Stafford Leys we follow the Letters and Sounds phonics program within the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage One. We have recently introduced Story Time Phonics to enhance our phonics teaching by linking learning to books.
Letters and Sounds is a phonics resource published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. It aims to build children’s speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. It sets out a detailed and systematic programme for teaching phonic skills for children starting by the age of five, with the aim of them becoming fluent readers by age seven.
There are six overlapping phases. The information below is a summary of each phase.
Phase One (Nursery/Reception) up to 6 weeks
Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.
Phase Two (Reception) up to 6 weeks
Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.
Phase Three (Reception) up to 12 weeks
The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the “simple code”, i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language.
Phase Four (Reception) 4 to 6 weeks
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.
Phase Five (Throughout Year 1)
Now we move on to the “complex code”. Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know.
Phase Six (Throughout year two and beyond)
Working on spelling, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.
Early Years Foundation Stage
The Foundation Stage curriculum is based on the DfE (the Government’s Department for Education) Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage. It is made up of seven areas of learning including the Prime Area – Communication and Language and the Specific Area – Literacy.
Communication and Language development involves giving children opportunities to experience a rich language environment; to develop their confidence and skills in expressing themselves; and to speak and listen in a range of situations. This includes the Early Learning Goals (ELG)1. Listening and attention: children listen attentively in a range of situations. They listen to stories, accurately anticipating key events and respond to what they hear with relevant comments, questions or actions. They give their attention to what others say and respond appropriately, while engaged in another activity. 2. Understanding: children follow instructions involving several ideas or actions. They answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about their experiences and in response to stories or events. 3. Speaking: children express themselves effectively, showing awareness of listeners’ needs. They use past, present and future forms accurately when talking about events that have happened or are to happen in the future. They develop their own narratives and explanations by connecting ideas or events.
In Literacy this involves encouraging children to link sounds and letters and to begin to read and write. Children will be given access to a wide range of reading materials (books, poems, and other written materials) to ignite their interest. This includes the ELG – 1. Reading: children read and understand simple sentences. They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately. They also read some common irregular words. They demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read. 2. Writing: children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways which match their spoken sounds. They also write some irregular common words. They write simple sentences which can be read by themselves and others. Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.
Children in EYFS have regular phonic teaching not long after starting school. They have regular planned English sessions and activities that increase in length during the summer term to facilitate the children’s transition to Year One.
Key Stages One and Two
At Stafford Leys, we follow the 2014 National Curriculum for English to teach all elements of the subject throughout Key Stages One and Two.
To support the delivery of the English Curriculum, it is taught through a daily discrete lesson which lasts for an hour. These lessons can often be cross-curricular and link to the topic being taught that half-term. Grammar, spelling and punctuation is also taught discretely every morning before assembly.
The daily English lesson that is structured in a specific way. During the first part of the lesson pupils are taught as a whole class, reading and/or writing together, extending their vocabulary, looking at the phonetics of words (if age and ability appropriate) and incorporating the grammar, punctuation and spelling skills they have been learning in their discrete morning lessons.
The lesson begins with a teacher led activity, with clear objectives being taught. It is interactive and engaging, with the teacher modelling what the pupils need to do and the pupils increasingly joining in with the activity, so that they have the confidence to work on their own in later parts of the lesson, guided by a set of shared success criteria.
Following the teacher input, the children work in groups or individually, with the teacher focusing guidance and support on one group to challenge and extend them further than would otherwise be possible. During this part of the lesson the children apply their English skills in meaningful tasks that focus on the intended learning objective as well as the wider curriculum wherever possible.
The lesson ends with a ‘plenary’. This part of the session allows both the teachers and the children to reflect on and assess what has been learnt and to think about how to develop it further. It provides an important opportunity to celebrate and extend the work and learning that has been completed.