What is Phonics?
Phonics is a strategy that supports the teaching of reading. It is recommended to be used alongside building sight words and fostering an enjoyment of reading which is done through real books and reading schemes. At Bridge Hall Primary we use a number of schemes at KS1, including:
We also use real books and group all these books into difficulty bands.
Phonics breaks down words so that the children learn how to blend segment sounds to decode unfamiliar words in all of the books they come across.
At Bridge Hall Primary, phonics is taught almost every day in EYFS and Key Stage One. Phonics sessions are entirely made up from games, songs and actions and these sessions only last for 15-20 minutes per day. In our school, we have adopted planning from the Letters and Sounds curriculum, Phonics Play and resources from Read, Write, Inc.
Each class runs phonics alongside Whole Class Stories, Guided Reading and Shared Reading in order to help our children develop the vital skills in reading. Developing a love for reading is extremely important which is why our children are taught through a variety of mediums.
In phonics lessons children are taught three main things:
Grapheme Phoneme Correspondences - GPCs
They are taught GPCs. This simply means that they are taught all the sounds or phonemes in the English language and ways of writing them. These sounds are taught in a particular order. The first sounds to be taught are s,a,t,p.
Children are taught to be able to blend. This is when children say the sounds that make up a word and are able to merge the sounds together until they can hear what the word is. This skill is vital in learning to read. Eg. c...a...t... = cat
Children are also taught to segment - the opposite of blending. Children are able to say a word and then break it into the phonemes that make it up. This skill is vital in being able to spell words. Eg. cat = c...a...t...
What makes phonics tricky?
In some languages learning phonics is easy because each phoneme has just one letter or grapheme to represent it. The English language is a bit more complicated. This is largely because England has been invaded so many times throughout history. Each set of invaders brought new words and new sounds with them. As a result, English only has around 44 sounds, (pheonemes) but there are around 120 graphemes or ways of writing these sounds. Obviously we only have 26 letters in the alphabet so some graphemes are made up from more than one letter.
For example: ch th oo ay (these are all digraphs - graphemes with two letters)
There are other graphemes that are trigraphs (made up of 3 letters) and even a few made from 4 letters.
Another sticky problem is that some graphemes can represent more than one phoneme. For example ch makes very different sounds in these three words: chip, school, chef.
How can you help at home?
The websites below have a variety of interactive games that are perfect to play with your children at home. By the end of Year 1, your child is expected to be fluent in Phases 1-5. In Year 2, your child is taught Phase 6. Always check with your child's class teacher to see which phase they are working in, before you begin practicing sounds at home.
Phonics Screening Check
The Phonics Screening Check takes place during the summer term. The aim of the check is to see how well the children have embedded phonics skills and to see who needs further help before the end of Key Stage One. Any child who doesn’t meet the expected criteria in Year 1 will be re-checked in Year 2.
The check itself only takes about 5 minutes and is a short, light-touch exercise completed with the children by their class teacher. The children will read 40 words in total during the check, from which some of them are real words and some of them are nonsense words. Each of the non-words is presented with a picture of a monster / alien, as if the word were their name (and so your child doesn’t think the word is a mistake because it doesn’t make sense!).
Bridge Hall Primary School Phonic Screening Check Results:
Whilst each class is different, from the results below, you will be able to see that our school has an upward trend. We are constantly striving to improve the outcomes for our children and are results show how dedicated we are.
Year 1 results: (% of children who scored above the threshold mark)
Year 2 re-check results: (a recheck of the children who didn't pass the threshold in the previous year)
If you need any more guidance or advice, please feel free to contact your child’s class teacher.
Mrs D Faulkner,
Bridge Hall Primary School