Our Approach to Phonics
At Bridgetown we teach early reading through the systematic, synthetic phonics scheme: Letters and Sounds. Right from the start of Reception children have a daily phonics lesson which follows the progression for Letters and Sounds and this continues in Year One to ensure children become fluent readers.
We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 4 of the Autumn term. We follow the Letters and Sounds progression as detailed in our Long Term planning.
Between two to three new phonemes and their corresponding graphemes are taught (GPCs) each week and they are then used in the final lesson of the week to review the week’s learning. Children will also learn tricky words during these sessions.
In the Autumn and Spring term, Reception learn phase 2 and phase 3 GPCs and then will spend the final term learning phase 4.
Year 1 begin the Autumn term with 3 weeks of revision of phases 2, 3 and 4 before learning phase 5, which will be completed by the end of the year. Year 2 children will begin the year by revisiting phase 5 and other previously taught phases to ensure all children are completely confident with applying these GPCs in both their reading and also their writing. (please see the overview here for what this progression looks like).
Half termly assessments take place through Reception and Year 1 to help inform future teaching and help identify children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge and need additional practice. Daily assessment of learning also takes place within the classroom so staff can quickly identify any children who are in danger of falling behind and provide the appropriate daily ‘Keep Up’ intervention.
The best way parents can support early reading is through regularly reading with their child in order to develop fluency and a love of reading.
Children in Reception and Year 1, take home a fully decodable book and a sharing book to develop their reading fluency and showcase their developing skills and phonetic knowledge to their parents/carers. Children should be able to read these books with little support and therefore feel successful as a reader. We have carefully chosen to use the Word Sparks books published by OUP as they follow the Letters and Sounds progression but also include questions for parents/carers to ask their children while reading as well as vocabulary extension.
Children will continue to take home a colour banded book linked to their reading level however, these are to be shared and supported by an adult at home. Parents/carers may need to help children to read the tricky words in these books and words which are currently not phonetically decodable to their child.
We feel combining a decodable book and sharing books helps to develop a wide and rich literature diet for our early readers.
Where next with phonics?
Under the New Reading Framework, schools are required to show fidelity one Systematic Synthetic Phonics programme. Through our work with our local English Hub we already have made several changes to our approach to phonics including using only Letters and Sounds progression and materials.
Although Letters and Sounds will not continue to be updated, we are confident that our approach meets the requirements set out in the New Reading Framework. However, we intend to invest in an accredited phonics programme once the final list has been released in 2022 so that we can make the best choice for our school.
Supporting your child at home.
The best way to support your child at home is through regular daily reading. Reading for five minutes at least four times a week is a manageable, successful approach rather than only reading all home reading books once a week.
Using the correct pronunciation is also important, below is a link to show how to correctly pronounce the phonemes we introduce to children.
We run several phonics parent sessions over the course of the year to keep parents informed of updates in phonics and to show how to support children at home. We have included the presentations below.
Finally, you can further support your child by using online games that are linked to the Letters and Sounds approach such as Phonics Play and Phonics Bloom. We have included links to these on this page.