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Phonics

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”  
Victor Hugo 

Here at West Wittering School, the reading and sharing of a high quality text is a vital part of our curriculum, as we believe that from one good book, a love of reading can be born. Our youngest children right through to our oldest children are provided with daily opportunities to enjoy a range of books, both in the classroom and from our library. Reading is incorporated throughout our curriculum, with our book led topics, where a high quality and engaging book is the centre of all learning taking place within the classroom. Through these high quality texts, children’s vocabulary and comprehension is extended, which in turn, supports their writing. 

Reading is taught explicitly in our classrooms, as well as being fed through all other subjects. The youngest children in the school begin their reading journey with phonics. This is a 20 minute daily session, in which the children are grouped according to their stage of phonic knowledge and we assess the children regularly and change their groups as necessary. We have written our own phonics scheme, to ensure that the sessions are more effective, practical and enjoyable for the children. The scheme is based on Letters and Sounds, however we have incorporated the Jolly Phonics programme too. Each sound is introduced to the children with a song and action, which they can then use to support their recall and recording of sounds (a link to these songs and actions are below).  

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Our scheme is made up of 6 phases. We would expect the children to have completed phase 1 by the time they come to school and this phase is developed alongside phase 2 and 3 in reception. Phase 2 is the teaching of single sounds, which are taught alongside the songs and actions. The children are taught to recognise these sounds within words and they use their ‘Robot Arms’ to blend sounds together to begin to  read CVC words.  

Phase 3 is where the children begin to learn their digraphs (two letters which make one sound, e.g. ‘sh’). There are songs and actions for each of these too. We then try and introduce blending of words with these digraphs in, to the children. We expect the children to be working within phase 3 by the end of reception.  

Within year 1 and 2, phase 4, 5 and 6 are then taught. Phase 4 is used to consolidate the sounds that the children have previously learnt and to begin the teaching of consonant blends (sp, cr). Within this 

phase the children will also begin to record dictated sentences and they will learn to read and spell the days of the week and numbers as words. Phase 5 will continue to teach the children alternative spellings to digraphs and how and when to use these within their reading and writing. Phase 6 has a more grammatical focus, teaching the children how to read and spell words with common suffixes (ed, ing, ly), to read and use past tense correctly and teaching spelling and reading of longer words.   

We have been working hard to develop a phonics scheme that the children enjoy, whilst ensuring the correct coverage is being met. We developed our scheme 2 years ago, and have since noticed, the love for phonics develop. The children enjoy the sessions and the teachers enjoy delivering them. We are now working on ensuring that the books that the children are sent home with corresponds to the phase and stage that the children are in in their phonics lessons. We are currently working with the English Hub to continue to develop the phonics opportunities and resources we offer and to ensure that we are providing the children with the best opportunities possible for phonics.