Why do we teach phonics?

Phonics is the key to early reading as it supports children in the development of gaining knowledge on how letters link to sounds, how to blend sounds correctly and the skill of segmenting letters to support children in confidently spelling words and writing sentences. Ultimately, this all cumulates in helping a child to become a strong, independent early reader. We are driven to ensuring that our Wyndham children are able to crack the phonics code so that they can have a love of reading and be fluent writers.

When do we teach phonics?

Phonics is taught daily across the Early Years, Year One and Year Two where the children are exposed to an explicitly taught phonics episode for 20 minutes each morning. For both our EYFS and Year One children, we are able to offer a play-based learning environment where we provide various phonics resources for the children to independently access during exploring time, such as: phonics games, flashcards, word building activities and much more. The adults within the provision are also able to regularly intervene and work with children on a 1:1 and group basis to further enhance their phonics instruction thereby ensuring the opportunities for our children to progress phonetically are endless.

 

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How do we teach phonics? – The 4 Part Learning Episode

At Wyndham, we follow a systematic approach to teaching phonics and our learning episodes follow a basic 4 part lesson structure.

1. We always begin the session with a ‘revisit’ to previously taught phonemes/graphemes and tricky words. Rewinding and revisiting has been relentlessly proven to help children secure knowledge into their long-term memory.

2. The second part of the episode is the ‘teach’ element. This is where the new phoneme/corresponding grapheme is taught, along with any new tricky words.

3. The third part of the episode is the ‘practice’ element. Within this part of the episode, children are provided with multiple multisensory opportunities to practise the new sound, with both a reading and writing focus.

4. Finally, the fourth part of the episode is to allow the children to ‘apply’ their newly gained knowledge. This is where we ask the child to complete an independent activity with the new content taking centre stage.

Additionally, all children are given two reading books to take home each week. One is carefully matched to their phonics knowledge and ability thereby allowing them to practice their phonetical skills at home. These books are changed on a weekly basis.

 

How do we assess phonics?

There are many ways that we assess the children’s progress in phonics. Assessment at Wyndham is something that happens all of the time and not just at the end of a sequence of teaching. We provide feedback live and in the moment for all children to combat misconceptions and to eliminate possible barriers to learning. At the end of each half term, we complete a baseline assessment so we know which phonics phase the child is currently learning within and to monitor the progress they have made from the previous half term. These assessments support us in ensuring our children are in the right phonics group. These groupings change frequently based on our assessments. On a national basis, all Year One children undertake the Phonics Screening Check in the Summer Term. The Government introduced this to identify whether children are working at the required Year One standard in order to be an independent reader. In order to pass the check, our children need to be able to read 32 of the 40 words (both real words and alien words) independently. An alien word is a nonsense word, that can be decoded, but doesn’t make sense. Alien words are there to support blending and segmenting. If a child does not achieve the pass mark in the check, they will be able to retake the assessment during Year Two.

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