At Grimsdyke School, we believe that reading is one of the essential keys to learning, an essential life skill and a source of pleasure to which all children are entitled. For all of our students to become fluent readers and writers, phonics needs to be taught through a systematic and structured phonics programme.

Up until December 2021, in Reception and Key Stage 1 we have used Letters and Sounds (DfE) as our primary systematic approach to teaching Early Reading and Phonics. From the Spring Term of 2022 we made a transition to using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Framework as our core phonics scheme.

Through our daily phonics lessons, we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent a different sound, that these can be used in a variety of ways and are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise all of the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing. Our phonics teaching starts in Reception and follows a very specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies as they move through school. They learn to blend sounds (put them together) to read words and segment words (identify each sound) to spell and write words. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover.

At Grimsdyke School we also model these strategies in shared reading and writing both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on the development of language and language skills for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects. We also give the children a wide range of reading experiences so that they learn to apply their skills in a range of contexts. This includes a strong emphasis on reading for pleasure. Children in Reception/Key Stage One have story books or library books to bring home regularly as well as books that are linked to their current phonics stage.

What is phonics?

  • Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language.
  • Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of individual letters and how those letters sound when they are combined will help children decode words as they read.
  • Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing and spelling words.
  • Phonics involves matching the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters. For example, the sound k can be spelled as c, k, ck or ch.‚Äč
  • Teaching children to blend the sounds of letters together helps them decode unfamiliar or unknown words by sounding them out. For example, when a child is taught the sounds for the letters t, p, a and s, they can start to build up the words: “tap”, “taps”, “pat”, “pats” and “sat”.

How we teach phonics:

At Grimsdyke School we…

  • Teach children that phonics helps us to read and write.
  • We teach a daily phonics session in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. This begins in Reception with a short focused session of about 10 minutes long and builds up to a 30-minute session in Year 1 and 2)
  • Follow a four part lesson structure and teaching sequence (review, teach, practise, apply) which promotes independence, resilience and success in all our learners.
  • Ensure that all phonics teaching is delivered with pace and enthusiasm.
  • Include an active element to all lessons that ensures participation for all learners.
  • Use decodable books in phonics lessons so that children can directly apply their new knowledge and phonic skills at an appropriate level. We use books from Collins Big Cat, supplemented with books from other publishers where appropriate.
  • Ensure that children take home a book that matches their phonic ability.
  • Provide pre-teaching or intervention sessions for students who need focused additional support to develop their phonics skills
  • Share information with parents to help them support their child to learn and apply phonic skills.

We assess and monitor the children’s progress with phonics throughout their time with us. In Year 1, students take a national phonics check assessment which helps indicate if they are on track or may need some additional support in Year 2 to develop the skills they will need ready for transition to Key Stage Two. We also provide targeted ongoing phonics support in Year 3 where it is appropriate.

Further information:

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