At Brookvale Primary School, we strive to develop confident, literate readers from the very moment our children enter Reception. We recognise that phonic skills are essential to developing competent and assertive readers and, as such, we follow the systematic approach of the Rising Stars validated programme of study for the teaching of early phonics and reading, which sets out a structured approach for children to become fluent readers by the end of KS1.
The fundamental concepts of this approach ensures that:
- Phonics is overseen by a dedicated phonics leader.
- Phonics is taught daily for at least 30 minutes.
- All staff are supported with regular phonics professional development training.
- A clear pathway is followed through the alphabetic code.
- Children are not asked to read texts by themselves that they cannot yet read.
- The systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) teaching principles are taught explicitly.
- The Teaching and Learning Cycle (revisit, teach, practise, apply) is followed.
- Children are supported to keep up, so they do not need catch up.
- Phonics is taught at letter-sound, word, sentence and text levels.
- Core phonics is distinguished from phonic enrichment activities.
- Teachers have clarity about what, why and how they are teaching.
- Teachers focus on details, such as accurate modelling and pencil hold.
During Reception and Year 1, children access small group, daily phonics teaching and are continually assessed for their acquisition of phoneme/grapheme correspondence. Rocket Phonics teaches one letter-sound correspondence over two days. The first day focuses on blending skills and the second day focuses on segmenting skills. This two day focus ensures that children have more time and more opportunity to learn, practise and apply the skills using the new letter-sound correspondences before moving on. The explicit teaching of the skill of oral blending, is vital for the initial stages of early reading. The two-day focus is repeated twice and the fifth day is for consolidation and for teaching Common Exception Words.
Our aim is that all children leave Year 1 with a secure knowledge of phonics, enabling them to be successful in continuing their reading journey through school. For those children who need further consolidation of phonics, a well-planned programme of intervention is delivered allowing them to ‘keep up’.
Teachers and leaders closely monitor and track the progress children are making in phonics in a number of ways:
- Rising Star baseline assessments and screening tools are used half termly throughout Reception and Key Stage 1 to assess and monitor the progress of each child.
- Ongoing daily assessment in phonics lessons.
If a child is not making the expected progress in phonics, they will receive additional phonics sessions targeted to their specific needs, e.g. an afternoon session revisiting content at a slower pace or focusing on one skill at a time.
In Year 1, during the month of June, all children are required to sit the statutory Phonics Screening Check. During this check, children are shown a mixture of real words and alien words, containing a mixture of sounds the children have been taught. The check is made up of 40 words, 20 real words and 20 alien words.
Phonics information for parents