Phonics at Barnes
Being able to read is the most vital skill children will learn during their early schooling due to the implications it has on lifelong confidence and all round well-being. Early reading skills and phonics are fundamental in giving children the skills needed to access and embrace their learning and the wider world around them.
Phonics is the process that is used to help children break down words into sounds (segmenting) and put sounds back together to read words (blending). Our aim is to teach children the phonic knowledge and skills they need to become fluent readers by the age of seven.
Phonics is taught from Nursery through to Year 2. However, the good practice continues into Year 3. We integrate phonics and spelling lessons so that all children are confident in their phonic knowledge.
We follow the Reading Planet Rocket Phonics systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) programme DfE-validated.
How is phonics taught at Barnes?
Using the Rocket Phonics SSP, we teach one letter-sound correspondence over two days. The first day focuses on blending skills and the second day focuses on segmenting skills. Reading and writing are interlinked so there is natural overlap, but by separating the skills and spreading them across two days, we can achieve greater clarity over which skill is being taught, practised or applied. The children have more time and more opportunity to learn, practise and apply the skills using the new letter-sound correspondences before moving on. The two-day pattern is repeated twice through the week, leaving the fifth day as an opportunity for further consolidation, assessment, enrichment activities or as a focus lesson on common exception words.
From YR through to Y2, we use the Rocket Phonics:
Revisit and review. This involves practising previously taught sounds so that the children recognise these, revisit them regularly and say them correctly.
Teach. In this section of the lesson, we introduce the new sound, provide practise for reading and spelling (depending on the focus of the lesson) and use Rocket Phonics Big Books.
Practise and apply. In this essential part of the lesson, we use the workbooks provided to provide extra practice for children to work on blending and segmenting.
Children in Reception and Year One take home five books each week. These include:
- Two Rising Stars Rocket Phonics fully decodable books – linked to our weekly teaching
- Two supplementary books
- One library book,
The two books that are decodable are linked to our weekly phonics teaching. This will enable children to read using the sounds and words that they have been taught in recent lessons, and provides children with the opportunity to consolidate the teaching taking place each week in school. For the vast majority of children these will be the same level based on our teaching progression. If a child has not yet acquired the necessary phonics knowledge to access these then we support them with a tailored selection of books.
There will be two supplementary books. These enable children to continue to practise developing phonics skills through a more varied selection of books and provide challenge for those that need it. They may need a little more support from parents for occasional tricky words. These are levelled to match children’s reading ability at the time and have been levelled based on word reading skills and comprehension.
One book will be a library book. This provides children with another opportunity to enjoy a high-quality text and to help develop a love of stories.
As children progress into Y2 and beyond they continue to take home fully decodable books until they move past orange level. After this, the children take home a selection of fiction or non-fiction books. They change these books when they finish them. Many children are reading chapter books in Y2 and we want to ensure they are able to finish them. It also allows them to start picking books that interest them, which encourages their love of reading.
Comprehension and reading for pleasure
We continue the love of story in Reception by sharing high-quality texts daily as a class and revisiting them to acquire more vocabulary and become confident in storytelling. We actively promote times where children can talk about their personal experiences and the frequent birthday book gifts ensure that books maintain a high profile. Around the learning environment, there are opportunities for reading in every area and each child has a small group guided reading session once a week. We are very fortunate that our parent body is so supportive, with parental volunteers coming in to hear each child read once a week. Our flipcharts are clear and attractive ensuring children can practise their sound and word recognition skills whenever there is a teacher led input.
In KS1, the children are introduced to high-quality texts as part of our English units (see Books we study section). The children enjoy reading the text as a whole class, sequencing the story and making predictions. There are regular opportunities for promoting talk and reading aloud in our English lessons. In addition to our daily phonics teaching, the children take part in guided reading and literacy activities daily. Each child will read with their class teacher once a week in a small group. We develop the children’s comprehension skills in line with the National Curriculum requirements for KS1. The children enjoy regular stories at the beginning and end of the school day and during key stage assemblies. There is a focus on fiction, non-fiction and poetry texts.
During free flow learning, the children can select texts independently from reading corners to continue to develop their love of stories. This time is also used so that class teachers can listen to children read on a one-to-one basis and offer individualised feedback. Clear strengths and next steps are highlighted to parents in reading journals and feedback from parents is responded to so that there is a strong communication between home and school.
We carry the good phonics practice into our writing lessons. When writing words and sentences, children are supported to spell through the use of Rocket Phonics sound mats. Click on the links below to see the sound mats children use in class. These can be printed and used at home.
Support for parents
Reading with your child is such a wonderful thing to experience. Here is some very helpful advice as to how you can make this time not only extremely special, but highly effective.
Here is a short document to help support your child. It has the phonics sounds they are learning on the first few pages and then some helpful tips to support your child in the early stages of reading.
Here is a presentation given to Key Stage 1 parents about how phonics is taught at Barnes Primary School and how our reading system works. There is also a guide to some of the phonics terminology.
A guide to parents, carers and and families by Rocket Phonics
Rocket phonics have made videos for each colour band so everyone can see how each phoneme is pronounced. It is helpful to have consistency with how each sound is pronounced, although there will be differences with different accents.