Phonics teaching at Barncroft Primary School

 At Barncroft, as part of our vision, we ensure that all children make good progress by providing a curriculum which meets the needs of each individual child, enabling them to develop the skills needed to prepare them for the next stage in their education.

The teaching of phonics, for younger children in particular, is extremely important in providing children with skills which enable them to access reading and writing and to tackle unfamiliar words. It is therefore imperative that we provide effective phonics teaching from the earliest opportunity, which meets the needs of our children at Barncroft.

In order to achieve this, the school has developed the way that phonics is taught at Barncroft to ensure that best practice in phonics is consistently used to promote progression consistently across the school.

Our vision for phonics at Barncroft

1) That all children achieve mastery depth in oral blending and segmenting so that they are able to immediately apply phonic knowledge in reading and writing.

2) That all phonics lessons include a wide range of opportunities to use and apply oral blending and segmenting, particularly in reading and writing.

3) That all phonics lessons include a wide range of opportunities for children to develop their communication skills and to extend their vocabulary.

4) A consistent approach to the structure of phonics and spelling teaching which is followed by all classes daily.

 How is phonics taught at Barncroft?

In order for children to be successful at applying phonics in their reading and writing, it is vitally important that they are able to move from oral blending and segmentation to blending and segmenting with letters. If this does not happen early on then children can develop gaps in their ability to make this link and as a result do not apply the skill in reading and writing. It is for this reason that Barncroft has decided to place a greater emphasis within each lesson on this process of moving from oral blending and segmenting to blending and segmenting with letters. We also endeavour to specifically meet the needs of our children at Barncroft by using every opportunity to expose the children to rich vocabulary and language from literature.

In order to achieve the above we:

  • Teach new letters and phonemes using Ruth Miskin Phonics cards (which have pictures on one side and a letter on the other).
  • Use the letter and picture cards in the lesson as part of a contextualised story with actions (which embed the new phoneme and link it to key vocabulary).  
  • Take best practice from aspects of Ruth Miskin, Jolly Phonics and Letterland to support high quality teaching of Letters and Sounds which meets the needs of the children of Barncroft based on our current position.

 How does this approach benefit children?

  • Children hear the phoneme (the sound that the letter makes), see the image, reinforce the sound with an action and hear the sound in key words within a story all within the same lesson. This means that they are more likely to make the link into application in reading and writing.

How is phonics assessed?

  • Children are assessed within each lesson so that teachers can address misconceptions straight away.
  • Flexible grouping is used within lessons so that children can be taught the specific next steps that they individually need at the time that they need it.
  • Children are assessed against Letters and Sounds Phases every half term. This is monitored by the teachers and the English Leader and is used to plan from so that no child is left behind.

What does the school do to promote spelling and phonics in addition to the daily lessons?

  • When children become confident in phonics, they move onto ‘No Nonsense Spelling’. This is taught from Y3-6 in order to ensure consistency of spelling teaching.
  • Spelling bookmarks ensure that parents and children are aware of the high expectations of the national curriculum and are able to keep up with these expectations by parental support (taking bookmarks home and aspiring to be on the next one), using and applying spellings in work (bookmarks available in writing books), teachers being able to track progress and attainment in spelling and to tackle any progress or attainment that is less than good.
  • Investment in high quality and high range of books and other reading materials, including the development of the library and the role of the librarian.
  • Investment in the online reading resource ‘Bug Club’ to enable children to practice reading at home, to increase home reading, to develop comprehension through interactive questions online and to encourage boys in particular to engage in reading.
  • Development of the breadth and depth of the English curriculum through enrichment days to promote literacy (book week breakfasts with parents, parent reading, everybody writes day, author days, professionals in to discuss literacy in their jobs, volunteers reading with children, reading buddies).
  • Daily shared reading/class novels
  • PM benchmark system in KS1 and KS2 in order to improve accuracy of reading assessments and to improve formative assessment, particularly in comprehension and inference.
  • Cursive handwriting system, to improve fluency of writing and raise expectations in writing across KS1.

 How can parents support their children’s progress in phonics at home?

  • Show a letter card to your child and say the sound. Ask your child to say it as well. This will help to build a link between a letter and its associated sound.
  • Say a word and ask your child to break into its individual sounds. For example: pig, p i g. This technique is known as oral segmenting.
  • Using the sounds to read (blending). You can teach your child to 'push' (or blend) the sounds together to make words by saying each of the sounds in the word when you are reading with your child at home and then pushing them together to say the whole word.
  • Using the sounds to write (segmenting). Encourage your child to use their new-found knowledge of sounds to begin to spell, by working out the individual sounds in a word and matching these sounds to the letters. When your child is ready to write the word down, encourage them to tap out each sound before they write it. This helps children to maintain the correct sequence of letters.
  • When your child is reading, encourage them to point to each letter and say the sounds out loud. Encourage your child to read these words by blending the separate sounds together.
  • Encourage your child to read the 'tricky words'. Tricky words contain letters that don't represent their normal sounds and these are taught separately. Children can use their phonics to help them read part of the words, but tricky parts will need to be learned by sight.
  • Check understanding. Ask your child questions about the story you've been reading together to check that they have understood the words.

 Where can I find out more about Phonics?

  • Please ask your class teacher to find out more about your child’s next steps in phonics and how you can help at home.
  • Attend the parent workshop on phonics
  • Attend your child’s Assertive Mentoring meeting and discuss phonics with the teacher alongside your child and the resources.