Phonics at Willaston Primary
To ensure that each child develops the skills and knowledge to be able to read and write in Willaston Primary Academy we use a structured phonics programme called Read Write Inc. Phonics.
‘Read Write Inc. Phonics teaches children to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension. They learn to form each letter, spell correctly, and compose their ideas step-by-step. Children learn the English alphabetic code: first they learn one way to read the 40+ sounds and blend these sounds into words, then learn to read the same sounds with alternative graphemes. They experience success from the very beginning. Lively phonic books are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ‘tricky’ words and, as children re-read the stories, their fluency increases. Along with a thought-provoking introduction, prompts for thinking out loud and discussion, children are helped to read with a storyteller’s voice.
The children write every day, rehearsing out loud what they want to say, before spelling the words using the graphemes and ‘tricky’ words they know. They practise handwriting every day, they learn correct letter formation and how to write speedily and legibly. Children’s composition (ideas, vocabulary and grammar) is developed by drawing on their own experiences and talking about the stories they read‘ (Ruth Miskin)
Read, Write, Inc. Lessons
We begin by teaching the children set 1 sounds. Children can start blending sounds into words as soon as they know a small group of letters well. Once the children have been taught the first 5 sounds (m, a, s, d, t), they are then taught assisted blending using the sounds that they know. During lessons children are taught to hear sounds and blend them together in sequence to make a word. We start with blending oral sounds, then progress to reading the letters and blending them together to read the word.
Order of teaching sounds
In Read Write Inc phonics the individual sounds are called ‘speed sounds’ – because we want your child to read them effortlessly. Set 1 sounds are the single letter sounds and set 1 special friend sounds. They are taught in the following order;
m, a, s, d, t, i, n, p, g, o, c, k, u, b, f, e, l, h, sh, r, j, v, y, w, th, z, ch, qu, x, ng, nk.
There are 12 Set 2 ‘speed sounds’ that are made up of two or three letters which represent just one sound, e.g. ay as in play, ee as in tree and igh as in high. These are ‘special friend’ sounds.
When children are taught Set 2 sounds they will learn:
Each sound has a list of green words linked to it, so that the children have the opportunity to sound out and blend words containing the new sound they have been taught, for example, s-p-r-ay = spray.
When learning Set 3 speed sounds the children will be taught alternative sounds/graphemes, e.g. ee as in tree and ea as in tea.
Nonsense words (Alien words)
As children build up their knowledge of sounds they are able to apply their decoding skills to any unfamiliar word, whether it be real or nonsense. During lessons each day children will practice their decoding skills by sounding out nonsense words. Children are unable to rely on existing knowledge of real words, and instead have to use their letter-sound knowledge. This is an important part of the Phonics Screening Check that the children complete at the end of year 1.
Learning to blend and Ditty Books
As soon as children have been taught a few initial letter sounds they begin to learn to blend the sounds together to read real words in a Word Time session. Each word time session involves oral blending of known sounds before they are shown the words written down on green cards. Children practice Fred talking the words until they become able to read them on sight. Ditty lessons follow on from this where children who are becoming excellent at reading single words are introduced to reading short sentences. Once children are confident reading the short sentences they are challenged to use their developing phonic knowledge to write a sentence.
After ditty books, the next stage is storybooks. These books are closely matched to their developing phonic knowledge. The storybooks consist of green words linked to the sounds that they have been learning, red words and challenge words to extend the children’s vocabulary. After children have practiced these words individually they are prepared to see them in context in the story. Comprehension activities, partner discussion and short writing activities based on the book, follow on from reading.
Reading into writing
Each story book follows a three or five day plan.
Short writing activities include;
Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage 1. The children read books in line with their phonics knowledge. Children can then focus on developing fluency and comprehension throughout the school. Embedding the alphabetic code early on means that children quickly learn to write simple words and sentences. Our teachers are enthusiastic about using the Read Write Inc. programme because they can see how well pupils learn from it and the progress they make.
At Willaston Primary Academy the quality of teaching and learning (including phonics) throughout the school is consistently monitored through lesson observations, learning walks and pupil voice. In Phonics, children are assessed half termly by the class teacher or phonics leads although group leaders will also assess throughout the lessons. This ensures that children are placed in groups appropriate for their learning and ensures that gaps are closed so that every child succeeds. Attainment in phonics is also measured by the phonics screen Test at the end of Year 1.
All staff have access to www.oxfordowl.co.uk where they can access resources and information to support their ongoing CPD. This ensures that children are fully supported by all staff and have access to a phonics lesson daily.