Phonics and Early Reading

Our Curriculum

Curriculum information inc. subject content
Phonics 
 
At Mylor Bridge School we follow the Twinkl Phonics program, which is based on the 'Letters and Sounds' guidance for teaching phonics. Using Twinkl resources, the children receive 30 minutes of phonics input every day. Please see below for the documents such as our Intent statement and development plan for phonics, An overview of the program and also some example of the teaching resources the children will use. Within classes, teachers also use games/activities/self-initiated learning to reinforce this key phonics knowledge. 

Phonics Intent Statement

 Intent

At Mylor Bridge, we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We believe that phonics provides the foundations of learning to make the development into fluent reading and writing easier. Through daily, systematic and consistent high quality phonics teaching, children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read words. To allow our children to develop a strong phonic awareness and effective blending and decoding skills, we have chosen to use a synthetic phonics programme called ‘Twinkl phonics’, which has been developed using the ‘Letters and Sounds’ model. This is a method of learning centred around letter sounds and phonics, blending sounds together to read and spell words and applying these skills across the curriculum. Using Twinkl Phonics, the children learn to read fluently so that they can put all their energy into comprehending what they read. We believe that teaching children to read and write independently is one of the core purposes of a primary school enabling them to access a broad and exciting curriculum and ensuring they flourish as learners throughout their time at our school. These fundamental skills not only hold the keys to the rest of the curriculum but also have a huge impact on children’s self-esteem and future life chances.

 

Implementation

The use of the Twinkl phonics scheme allows our teaching and learning of phonics to be progressive from our reception children all the way through to Year 2 and into lower KS2 for those children who need this. All children in EYFS and KS1 have discrete, daily phonics sessions, lasting 30 minutes where they follow the lesson structure as set out in letters and sounds:

 

Through Twinkl Phonics, the children are taught the 44 phonemes that make up all the sounds required for reading and spelling. These phonemes include those made by just one letter and those that are made by two or more. Children work through the different phases and as they grow in confidence and experience, they are introduced to alternative ways of representing the same sound.

 

We begin in reception, by teaching level (or phase) 2, which is the beginning of the systematic phonics programme. The children are then able to work through the scheme systematically, taking small steps to ensure they are able to embed and apply what they have learnt.

The order in which children learn the 44 sounds and their related graphemes is outlined below.

Throughout EYFS and KS1, children are taught in small and focussed groups to target their specific needs for phonics, alongside children of the same ability. These groupings are based on half-termly assessments that are carried out at the start of each school year and then continue half termly. The phonics lead then collates this information and regroups children based on their current skill level, allowing progression for most children but repetition and support for those that need more time on a specific set of sounds. This approach allows lessons to be focused and specific to the needs of the children. These assessments are also used to identify any children who are in danger of falling behind. These children are then picked up for targeted interventions in the afternoons. Lessons are taught by both teachers and teaching assistants who are supported by the phonics lead in their delivery. As children build up their knowledge of sounds they are able to apply their decoding skills to any unfamiliar word, whether it be real or nonsense. During lessons each day children will practice their decoding skills by sounding out real and nonsense words. In the case of nonsense words, children are unable to rely on recognition of words, and instead have to use their phonic knowledge to decode these. This is an important part of the Phonics Screening Check that the children complete at the end of year 1.

We make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ability to read ‘tricky words’ so they experience early reading success and gain confidence that they are readers, as well as consolidating the learning that takes place in school. Our book band system has been designed so that children can be placed in an appropriate book band level and can be allocated home-school reading books that match their level of phonic knowledge.

 

Impact

Through the consistent, systematic and daily teaching of the Twinkl Phonics programme, our aim is for children to become fluent, confident readers by the end of Key Stage One. Children are assessed at the end of Year 1 using a Statutory Assessment Tool known as the Phonics Screening Check. This screening check confirms whether the child has learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard and will identify sounds needing further support in Year 2. The children are assessed one to one, by a member of staff who is familiar to them. Those who do not pass the screening will continue their phonics lessons in Year 2 by being streamed into the correct group within the phonics groups. This allows them to consolidate and develop their confidence within a group working at their specific ability. This will ensure they will be ready to retake the screening at the end of Year 2. Through the Twinkl phonics programme, children will be equipped with the skills to decode unfamiliar words using strategies that they have been taught in their daily lessons. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school. We envisage and hope that this leads to a love of reading and children taking pleasure in exploring the rich literary world around them with a firm phonic basis to support them.

 

 Phonics Development Plan

Introduction

At the start of the 2019/20 academic year, the ‘Twinkl’ phonics scheme was introduced to ensure consistency of delivery in phonic teaching across EYFS and Key Stage 1. This scheme has been developed in line with, and follows the progression from, the Letters and Sounds strategy. Staff have found this scheme to be well developed, curated and engaging for children. After following this scheme for approximately 6 months, it was identified that there were not enough opportunities for children to apply their learning to reading sentences and texts in order to embed sounds that are being taught. Although slides on lesson PowerPoints have ‘apply’ sections for children to read, these do not lend themselves well to children reading in pairs It is therefore likely that children will not always be engaging with the text and missing opportunities to practise and apply what they are learning.

Phonics was taught for 20-30 minutes daily and delivered to whole classes (mixed Reception/Year 1 and Year 1/Year 2 classes). Early in the year, it was decided to split Year 1 and 2 into 4 groups, allowing children to benefit from more targeted learning based on their level of phonic knowledge. Reception is taught altogether initially with plans to integrate them into the Key Stage 1 groups from Spring Term. Each group is led either by a teacher or teaching assistant. This grouping has had a positive impact on progress due to the targeted learning and smaller group sizes. Although teaching assistants have worked hard to develop their skills and understanding of delivering phonics lessons and have done well to support children, they have not yet received training on phonics. Therefore, subject knowledge and consistency across all groups needs to be developed to ensure high quality and consistent teaching and learning can be delivered. Due to the short lessons, group leaders have found it difficult to fit everything into the lessons that is expected. This has led to the structure of lessons to be irregular and lacking consistency.

Although the majority of children progress steadily and efficiently through the phonics program, some children are showing only minimal progress over a half term. As a result, these children are grouped accordingly and revisit lessons and content they have already seen. This can be an effective strategy for some children but it may become boring and demoralising for these children if this happens too many times. To minimise ‘re-teaching’ the same content and to strive for those children to revisit content no more than twice, prompt interventions have been put in place and are delivered in the afternoons by a teaching assistant who also leads a phonics group. Children are identified for these interventions through the half-termly assessments, however these are approximately every 6 weeks, meaning children are potentially falling behind for a full half term before being identified. These interventions have been effective in supporting children, however, a more structured and rigorous intervention program could be introduced or developed to ensure consistency with the phonics scheme. This will also ensure that progress and therefore the impact of these interventions can be better tracked. Group leaders should have the means to keep track of all children in their group with a system in place to ‘pick up’ children to focus on in a particular lesson.

Over recent years, Mylor Bridge has been increasing the pass rate for the Year 1 phonics screening check. In 2018, the school pass rate was 70% compared with the national rate of 83%. In 2019, the school pass rate increased to 84%, slightly higher than the national rate of 82%. Due to the COVID 19 pandemic and school closure, the 2020 Year 1 phonics screening check was rescheduled for December 2020, when the school pass rate was 81%. Of the 4 children working towards the expected level, 3 are on the SEN Record of Need and the remaining child had arrived at Mylor not long before the check, having previously been home-schooled. In Summer 2021, having participated in a voluntary phonics screening check, the school pass rate was 79%. As with the previous year, the statutory phonics screening check has been rescheduled for Autumn 2021, giving the children more time to catch up after missing a significant portion of their time in Year 1 due to the pandemic.

An overhaul of the book band system has taken place. An in-depth audit of the long-standing system was done and the following steps were taken:

  •          Outdated or inappropriate books were removed.
  •          Remaining books were sorted into books that matched the phonics progression and those that pre-dated the phonics program. The latter were assessed on how well they could tie in with the progression of the phonics program and fitted into the scheme accordingly.
  •          Any areas of weakness (eg not enough non-fiction texts) were identified and new books are being added periodically as and when this is financially viable-this is an ongoing development.
  •          New book bands were organised in line with each phase of the phonics program (eg Children learning Phase 4 phonics are, usually, reading books from Book Band 4)
  •          This new system is accompanied by a colour coded book list for each band, with columns to record the books a child has read.

Strengths:

  •          Enthusiastic, proactive and hardworking staff
  •          Targeted grouping based on half termly assessments
  •          Groups well managed on half-termly basis.

             

Areas for development:

  •          Consistency across groups in:

-delivery of lessons

-terminology/vocabulary used

-support materials/resources/displays

  •          Structure and pace of lessons
  •          Further develop intervention program for lowest 20% and ability to identify and target children who are, or could, fall behind.
  •          More opportunities for children to apply learning in independent/paired reading tasks.
  •          Improve transfer of phonic knowledge into spelling.
  •          Improve continuity into KS2 for those who may still need support with reading and spelling.
 

Development plan

Targets

Intended Outcomes

Actions

Key People

Deadline

Resources needed

Develop consistency across all phonics groups

  •          All group leaders will be confident with accessing and using the Twinkl phonics scheme with a strong appreciation of the importance and value in the phonics approach.
  •          All group leaders will understand and use correct and accurate terminology and vocabulary when teaching.
  •          All staff will use the same support materials when delivering lessons (eg same flashcards, PowerPoints, etc).
  •          All group locations will have a display with the same layout and display materials.
  •          Phonics lead to deliver training to all school staff that will be providing phonics teaching.
  •          Lesson observations by Phonics lead and Head Teacher.
  •          Create central resource bank with all support materials needed for all phases and groups.
  •          Provide group leaders with time to set up displays.
 

SS

VS

KM

KF

VA

LS

CE

Nov

2021

  •          Phonics lead release time to:

       -develop training materials.

       -carry out lesson obs.

  •          Overtime for TAs for training session(s).
  •          Downloadable support materials (eg flash cards, etc) to be laminated.
  •          Group leaders release time to set up displays.

Develop understanding and implementation of well-structured and well-paced lessons

  •          Group leaders will be confident with the structure of a lesson and understand the importance of each element of this.
  •          Group leaders will have enough time in each lesson to complete all elements.
  •          Group leaders will have all necessary materials pre-prepared to avoid any lost learning time.
  •          Children will be settled and ready to learn promptly. They will be engaged and enthusiastic during lessons.
  •          Phonics lead to deliver training to all school staff that will be providing phonics teaching.
  •          Lesson observations by Phonics lead and Head Teacher.
  •          Ensure all planning and support materials are easily accessible for all staff
  •          Provide support staff with planning time (30 mins per week).
 

SS

VS

VA

KM

KF

LS

CE

Feb 2022

  •          Phonics lead release time to:

       -develop training materials.

       -carry out lesson obs.

  •          Overtime pay for TAs for training session(s).
  •          Downloadable Twinkl support materials (eg flash cards, etc) to be laminated.
  •          Group leaders release time.

Develop interventions further to ensure consistency and system for assessment of its impact.

  •          Children lacking confidence will be identified through formative assessment during ‘revise and review’ element of each lesson.
  •          Afternoon interventions will be targeted for those children as well as pre-teaching new sounds to come.
  •          Half termly summative assessments will show more rapid progress through the scheme and fewer children will need to revisit previously taught sounds.
  •          Ensure planning is used as a working document so group leaders can target individuals when necessary.
  •          Research intervention programs that could be used. This may result in adapting or creating something.
 

SS

VS

LS

 

Feb 2022

  •          Phonics lead release time to research intervention program.
  •          Intervention handover/record sheet.
  •          Intervention resources.

Provide more opportunities for independent tasks in lessons.

  •          Half termly summative assessments will show more rapid progress through the scheme and fewer children will need to revisit previously taught sounds.
  •          Confidence and fluency in reading will progress at a more accelerated rate.
  •          Source/create/adapt materials to be used in lessons for ind./paired tasks (e.g. short stories/captions)
  •          Group leaders to schedule time within all lessons for these activities
 

SS

VS

VA

KM

KF

LS

CE

Feb

2022

  •          Phonics lead release time to:

       -develop materials.

  •          Possible purchasing of reading materials (eg phonics bug books).

Develop children’s transfer of phonic knowledge into their spelling.

Develop spelling accuracy of common exception words.

In writing books:

  •          Spelling of phonetically decodable words will be largely accurate.
  •          Children will use phonetically plausible attempts at more challenging words.
  •          Children will be spelling at least ‘many’ common exception words accurately.
  •          Ensure spelling elements of phonics lessons are given as much focus as reading.
  •          Provide children with spelling cards with common exception words and all GPCs-develop and encourage their use of these in all lessons.
 

SS

VS

VA

KM

KF

LS

CE

June 2022

  •          Phonics lead release time to monitor and observe phonics groups.
  •          Spelling cards on children’s tables-to be available and visible at all times.

Develop continuity and continuation into KS2 for those who need it.

  •          Consistency of vocabulary and resources between key stages will be evident.
  •          Children will be confident with accessing appropriate materials to support them.
  •          KS2 staff will have good subject knowledge for phonics.
  •          KS2 interventions will follow the same scheme as KS1.
  •          Training for appropriate KS2 teachers and support staff.
  •          All resources used in KS1 to be made available to KS2 staff and children.
  •          Phonics lead will have regular communication with KS2 staff to ensure consistency is evident.
 

SS

VS

JT

SC

KH

June 2022

  •          Phonics lead release time to prepare and deliver training.
  •          Overtime pay for TAs for training.
  •          All support materials and resources used at KS1 level.