Phonics

Phonics are a way of decoding written letters and spoken sounds. The phonics approach teaches children to decode words by sounds, rather than recognising whole words. This approach to learning to read is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them to read and spell.

At St Andrew’s we place a huge level of importance on the teaching of phonics. During the first few weeks of your child's time in Reception we will carry out simple checks on which sounds and letter names they already know so that we can ascertain their starting point. Once this process is complete then we establish our phonics teaching sessions.

Song Of Sounds

We use a fantastic structured phonics scheme called Song of Sounds published by Collins. This is a creative and multi-sensory resource which really supports children with developing a love of learning.

There are several stages to Song of Sounds, each accompanied by a different song which the children love. These songs are hugely important for teaching the children the different phonemes (sounds). Children begin to learn about phonics from their first weeks in Reception and progress through the programme throughout Key Stage One. The rigorous teaching of systematic synthetic phonics is at the core of Song of Sounds. In Reception children learn and master the 42 basic sounds (Stage 1) and then go on to learn 27 addition complex and alternative spellings in Year 1 (Stage 2). In Year 2 children go on to learn alternative spellings for known phonemes to read and spell increasingly complex words using Stage 3. 

Song 1 - Stage 1:

This is for children in Reception and the video can be accessed by clicking on the video below.

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Song 2 - Stage 2:

This is for children in Year One and builds on the sounds learnt in Reception.

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Song 3 - Stage 3:

This is aimed at children in Year Two and again and the sounds covered continue to build on the children's prior learning. Children within Year Two will still need to revise and apply the sounds in the stage 2 song.

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Phonics Screening Check

In Year 1 children are assessed on their ability to blend phonemes together to read a selection of real and non-real words. This enables us to identify children who are making progress in their acquisition of phonics skills. Children who do not pass the test in Year 1 are provided with extra support and are given the opportunity to retake the test in Year 2. In 2019 93% of Year 1 pupils passed the phonics screening check.

In 2020 and 2021 there were no phonics screening checks carried out due to COVID-19. Year 2 children take part in a previous check, however, these results are not published. 

Aims of Phonics Teaching

Although our phonics teaching is rigorous and fast paced, we believe there is no reason why phonics should be dull and repetitive. The Song of Sounds programme has a song as its core ingredient which children love to sing and learn all of the accompanying actions. Our approach is multi-sensory and is packed alongside fun, interactive games and activities where children are encouraged to apply their new skills and embed their learning.

Our aims for the teaching of phonics are as follows:

- Teach grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) at a quick pace (around one a day)

- Immediately teach how to blend sounds into complete words for reading, e.g. the phonemes /c/ /a/ /t/ blend together to make the word “cat”.

- Immediately teach how to segment words into their individual phonemes for writing, e.g. the word “bus” segments into the phonemes /b/ /u/ /s/.

- Teach key irregular words (tricky words), noting which parts of the word can be blended phonetically and which are irregular, e.g. “I”, “me” and “we”.

- Use decodable texts to ensure that children apply phonics knowledge to read at an age appropriate level. 

Helping at home

Texts are sent home according to children’s development with phonics and bands can be found below. You can find out more about reading at home by looking at our reading page. 

In order for you to support your child with their learning of the different phonemes (the smallest unit of sound), it is really important that you are articulating the sounds in the same way that your child is learning at school. By watching the video clip below, demonstrating how each phoneme should be pronounced, you will be able to correctly model this to your children, helping them to make brilliant progress with their phonics learning.

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You might want to write sound buttons onto a word or ask your child to do this.  This supports the children in recognising the individual sounds in each word.

We use a dot to represent a single letter sound.

 

We use a line to represent a digraph (a combination of two letters that make one sound) or a trigraph (a combination of three letters that make one sound).

          

 

We use an arc to represent a split digraph (a digraph that has been split by another letter).

 

There are some websites that offer some free games and resources to support your child with their phonics learning.  Please click on the pictures to access the websites.