Phonics Area

What is the 'Phonics Area'?

Hello. My name is Mrs Heasman and one of my leadership responsibilities here at Meopham Community Academy is as Assistant Headteacher for Early Years and Key Stage 1. One of my responsibilities within this role is to oversee and guide how we teach phonics in the first years of our children's education.

I have set up our phonics page to be used to inform and advertise the schemes that we use here at Meopham Community Academy to improve the attainment and progress of our younger pupils in phonics.

I hope that you will find these resources useful and a first point of reference should you wish to know more on how we approach this area of learning here at meopham Community Academy.

Mrs Heasman - Early Years and KS1 Leader

Mrs K Heasman

Assistant Headteacher for Early Years and Key Stage 1 / Joint English Leader

What is phonics?

There has been a huge shift in the past few years in how we teach reading in UK schools. Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read. Our phonics teaching here at Meopham runs alongside other teaching methods, such as guided reading (reading in a small group with the class teacher) to help children develop all the essential reading skills they need to succeed in their education. Through the way we teach reading and phonics at Meopham, we also strive to instill in the children a real love of reading, which can stay with them throughout school and into adult life too.

Words are made up from small units of sound called phonemes. Phonics teaches children to be able to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word. This helps children to learn to read words and to spell words.

In phonics lessons children are taught three main things:

  • GPC
  • Grapheme Phoneme Correspondences. This simply means that they are taught all the phonemes in the English language and ways of writing them down. These sounds are taught in a particular order. The first sounds to be taught are s, a, t, p

  • Blending
  • Children are taught to blend initial sounds. This is when children say the sounds that make up a word and are then able to merge the sounds together until they can hear what the word is e.g. m-a-t = mat.

  • Segmenting
  • Children are also taught to segment. This is the opposite of blending. Children are able to say a word and then break it down into the phonemes that it is made up of. This skill is vital in being able to spell words.

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Phonics at Meopham Community Academy

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As a school we base our phonics teaching on the Read Wrtie Inc. speed sounds lessons with some modification. Read Write Inc. provides a structured and systematic approach to teaching phonics. It is used by more than a quarter of the UK's primary schools and is designed to create fluent readers, confident speakers and willing writers.

At Meopham, our phonics programme meets the higher expectations of the National Curriculum and we use effective assessment to accelerate every child's progress.

Teachers can further supplement their teaching of phonics by using materials from other schemes. We use “Letters and Sounds” and “Sounds-write” where appropriate.

Please follow the link below to our 'Attainment' page to see our progress trends in Year 1 Phonics over the last 3 years.
 

Year 1 Phonics Attainment 2017

Why Speed Sounds Phonics at our school?

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At the heart of the ‘Read Write Inc. Phonics Programme’ is the systematic teaching of all the common sounds in the English language. Read Write Inc. calls these the ‘Speed Sounds’.

Children are taught to recognise the sounds and to put them together (blend them) into words for reading.

As a school we follow the RWI Phonics teaching Program called 'Speed Sounds' and use this to teach children phonics in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. This program was introduced across these three year groups last year (2016-2017) and has been very successful.

Mrs Heasman, Assistant Headteacher for Early Years and KS1

  • First the children are taught one way of representing the 44 main sounds and then go on to learn the alternative spelling
  • Read Write Inc. introduces the simple Speed Sounds (one sound, one grapheme) with Speed Sounds Set 1 and Set 2. They then learn more ways of writing the same sounds with the complex Speed Sounds Set 3.
  • Children are taught letter names before moving on to Speed Sounds Set 3.
  • Follow the link below to see Sets 1-3 of the Read Write Inc. Speed Sounds
  • Once children know the first set of Speed Sounds, they are ready to read the first Storybooks (see below for more information).

PARENT TIP...

  • When teaching the letter sounds, it is important to remember to keep them very ‘pure’ and distinct, to help with sound-blending later on. To enable your child to gain confidence in reading, they should only be asked to read words containing letter sounds they know securely.

A bit of technical knowledge...

To learn to read children need to:

  • learn 44 sounds (phonemes) and the corresponding letters/letter groups (graphemes)
  • learn to read words using sound blending and then (decoding)
  • learn to understand what they are reading and sense of it (encoding)
  • Do not use the letter names with your children at this stage - ONLY the pure sounds.

 
Saying the sounds

 

  • Read Write Inc. Phonics/Speed Sounds is systematic and structured.
  • The programme meets the demands of the new national curriculum - This provides your children with the best chance of success in the national tests including the Phonics Screening Check administered in Year 1.
  • Assessment is rigorous and effective – Small group interventions ensure that no child is left behind.
  • Your children are appropriately supported – the resources match your child’s learning in class and they can share them with you at home.
speed sounds chart
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Teaching a sound at school or at home

speed sounds chart1_Complex
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Special Friends Tutorial

Word Time...

 

  • Read Write Inc. Phonics/Speed Sounds is systematic and structured.

 

  • The programme meets the demands of the new national curriculum - This provides your children with the best chance of success in the national tests including the Phonics Screening Check administered in Year 1.

 

  • Assessment is rigorous and effective – Small group interventions ensure that no child is left behind.

 

  • Your children are appropriately supported – the resources match your child’s learning in class and they can share them with you at home.
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Read Write Inc. Story Books

What is in the new books?

In the new story books there are several features which set them apart from the old style phonics books we have previously used:

 

  • Each book contains speed sounds to share, GREEN words which are decodable and RED words which are sight words; all of which should be read before beginning the story.

 

  • Following this, most books also have a vocabulary check which gives you the opportunity to discuss any new or complex vocabulary before reading the book.

 

  • At the back of each book there are comprehension questions that aim to help your child build their comprehension skills by asking them to find the answer in the text they have just read.

 

  • There are 'Speed Read Words' on the back cover which help the children with their fluency by getting them to read words without 'sounding out.'

 

  • Furthermore, each book focuses on a key sound as well as recapping previous sounds which ensures a systematic approach.

 

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Book Levels

  • The Read Write Inc. books are arranged in colour bands beginning at RED and progressing through to GREY.
    • The books that the children will bring home have been carefully matched to their phonetic reading ability.

     

    • The children's levels are determined through a combination of reading assessments and their current RWI phonics skills.
RWI back cover
RWI Book Levels

FAQs for parents

How will I know how well my child is doing?

We will always let you know how well your child is doing.

We use various ways to find out how the children are getting on in reading. We use the information to decide what phonics group they should be in. Your child will work with children who are at a similar phonics level as him or her. Children will move to a different group if they are making faster progress than the others. Your child will have small group support if we think he or she needs some extra help to keep up.

We also use a reading test so that we can make sure that all our children are at the level that they should be for their age compared to all the children across the country.

In the summer term, the government asks us to do a phonics check of all the Year 1 children. That gives us extra information about their progress. We will talk to you about how well your child has done, and especially if we have any worries at all.

What if he or she finds it difficult to learn to read?

We want children to learn to read, however long it takes us to teach them. We will find out very quickly if your child is finding reading difficult. First, we move children to a different group, so that we can make sure that they have learnt what they need to know. If they still struggle, we give them extra support.

If we have any serious worries about your child’s reading, we will talk to you about this.

Some children take a bit longer to learn to put sounds together to read a word, e.g. c-a-t to make the word ‘cat’. At our meeting, we will explain how you can help your child to do this.

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How long will it take to learn to read well?

By the end of Year 2, your child should be able to read aloud books that are at the right level for his or her age. In Year 3 we concentrate even more on helping children to understand what they are reading, although this work begins very early on. This happens when the teacher reads to the children and also when the children read their own story book.

Does it matter if my child misses a lesson or two?

It matters a lot if your child misses school. The way we teach children to read is very well organised, so even one missed lesson means that your child has not learnt something that they need to know to be a good reader.

What if my child turns out to be dyslexic?

The way we teach reading is especially helpful for children who might be dyslexic. This is because we use a very well-organised programme that has a strong focus on phonics. This is very important for children who find learning to read difficult. If you are worried about your child, please come and talk to us.

My child has difficulty pronouncing some sounds. Will this stop him learning to read through phonics?

This isn’t a problem for learning to read as long as we know what sound the child is trying to say. This is not something to worry about. Many children have a few sounds that they can hear clearly but find it difficult to say, particularly the l-sound, r-sound, w-sound, th-sound, s-sound, sh-sound and j-sound. Often they say a t-sound for the c-sound; "tttssh" for the s-sound; "w" for the r-sound and "r" for the l-sound. You can help your child by encouraging him or her to look at your mouth when you say the sound. Whatever you do, do not make your child feel a failure. They can easily learn to read, even if they find one or two sounds difficult to say.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any concerns. We are here to help.