How do we teach phonics at Nova Primary?

Children are taught how to read using systematic synthetic phonics and this is given a high priority throughout Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. The purpose of phonics is to quickly develop pupils’ phonemic awareness which is their ability to hear, identify, and use phonemes in English. The aim is to systematically teach leaners the relationship between these sounds and the written spelling patterns (graphemes) which represent them. Phonics emphasises the skills of decoding new words by sounding them out combining (blending) the sound-spelling patterns.

We currently use our own phonics framework (adapted from Letters and Sounds) to teach a sequence of skills which are broken down into 6 phonics phases (see table below). Through explicit daily phonics sessions, pupils are taught phonics knowledge and skills. This helps children build and use the relationship between sounds and letter symbols to help readers decode new words. The children are also taught that some words are not decodable and need to be recognised on sight. We teach this through daily repetition activities in order for the children to be able to read fluently.

In EYFS and Year 1, considerable time is given over to the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics through whole-class direct teaching; small group guided sessions and a wide variety of spoken language and play activities.  We are well resourced with a wide range of engaging, fully decodable phonics sets to ensure that children practise their reading from books that match their current phonics knowledge.

Our Phonics Overview document below shows the progressive order we teach new sounds and the decodable books children will bring home at each stage:

Lesson structure:

Phonics lessons at Nova follow the structure of: review, teach, practise and apply. Within lessons, we use a variety and balance of activities to help children learn e.g. recording in writing; IT based; outdoor learning; physical activities. Four new sounds are taught a week with a phonics recap on a Friday.

Early reading

We understand effective phonics techniques need to be embedded in a rich literacy environment for early readers and are only one part of a successful literacy strategy. Therefore children also have opportunities to apply and practise these skills during normal reading and writing activities.

Because the connection between letters and sounds is not readily apparent to new readers, modelling is an important aspect of phonics teaching. Teachers frequently model ways that a reader uses the sound-symbol relationship to decode unfamiliar words by reading and thinking aloud.

Once children have been exposed to adult modelling several times, they are encouraged to practise applying phonics to their own reading. This independent practice helps young readers truly build the connection between symbols and sounds. Adults guide children in strategically applying phonics to authentic reading and writing experiences to help them develop good decoding skills.

Children are matched with phonetically decodable books to help them practise the skill of decoding. In addition to this, children are also provided with an enrichment and enjoyment reading book in order to develop their love for reading as well as other reading skills such as comprehension, prediction, inference, vocabulary and fluency.

Terminology:

Phoneme – smallest unit of spoken language (sound)

Grapheme – a letter or combination of letters to represent a phoneme (written)

Diagraph – a combination of two letters making one sound  e.g. sh

Trigraph – a single sound represented by three letters e.g. igh

Blending – the action of combing sounds to form a word e.g. c-a-t = cat

Segmenting – the action of breaking down a word into individual sounds e.g.

Resources:

Leadership

Frankie Owen is our Phonics Leader, Alison Young is our Reading Recovery Teacher and Dympna Leonard is our Lead Author, who you can speak to to find out more about how we teach our Phonics and Early Reading Curriculum and Nova.

Frankie Owen Alison Young Dympna Leonard