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Phonics

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What is phonics?

Phonics teaching is a vital part of English and provides the foundations of reading and writing. At Brookvale Primary School, we aim to teach children fluent word reading skills and provide a secure foundation in spelling from the earliest opportunity.

Phonics teaching involves showing children the sounds of letters – not the letter names – and how these sounds can be blended together to make words. For example, the word “pot” is a decodable word because the letter sounds can be blended together: p-o-t = pot

However, not all words are decodable and the children will be taught these as “Tricky Words” and have to be able to read them on sight. For example, the word “was” cannot be blended together as the “a” letter makes an “o” sound in the word.

Phonics at Brookvale

At Brookvale Primary School we teach Phonics using a scheme called “PhonicsPlay” which is underpinned by the government document “Letters and Sounds”. This is organised into six “phases” which children progress through as their reading ability improves. Children are assessed at the end of each half term to ensure progress is being made and that their individual needs are being met.

All children are grouped by ability and receive Phonics lessons every day. Lessons are 20 minutes long and delivered by teachers and teaching assistants. Lessons are lively and engaging, with staff using a variety of resources and activities to motivate children.

 

“Pure Sounds''

One of the most important areas in teaching Phonics is the correct pronunciation of the sounds – known as “pure sounds”.it is important that children do not say the sounds with an “uh” sound at the end.

EG: the letter “m” should be pronounced “mmmm” not “muh”.

This video link demonstrates how all the sounds across the phases should be pronounced.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCI2mu7URBc

The Six Phases

Here is an overview of the 6 phases and when your child is likely to be taught them. This can fluctuate depending on your child’s progress and teachers will adapt as necessary.

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Key Terms

Here are the key terms we use when teaching Phonics – we use these as much as possible with the children once we feel they are ready.

  • Phoneme - The smallest unit of sound.
  • Grapheme - A way of writing a phoneme.
  • GPC - Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence. Knowing a GPC means you can match a phoneme to a grapheme and vice versa.
  • Digraph - A grapheme containing two letters that makes one phoneme. Vowel digraph - two vowels, which make one phoneme, e.g. ai, oo, ow.
  • Split digraph - two letters, split, making one phoneme, e.g. a-e as in make.
  • Trigraph - A grapheme containing three letters that makes one phoneme.
  • Blend - to draw individual sounds together to pronounce a word.

e.g. s-n-ai-l blends to snail.

  • Oral segmenting - To hear a word and break it up into phonemes.
  • Segmenting - To hear a word, break it up into individual phonemes and write the graphemes in the correct order.
  • HFW– High Frequency Words are words that are seen most often in reading books.
  • Tricky Words - Words that can’t be segmented and blended.

the phonics screening check

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What is the Phonics Screening Check?

During the summer term, children in Year 1 take part in the Phonics Screening Check. This is a statutory requirement and is a quick and easy check of each child’s individual knowledge. It helps us as a school confirm whether a child has made the expected progress. It is delivered in a low key manner on a 1-1 basis. The children do not know they are being “tested” as we do regular “checks” throughout Year 1.

What are ‘non/pseudo-words’?

The check will contain a mix of real words and ‘non-words’ or ‘pseudo-words’ (or ‘nonsense/alien words’). Children will be told before the check that there will be non-words that he or she will not have seen before. Children will be familiar with this because we already use ‘non-words’ when teaching phonics. Non-words are important to include because words such as ‘vap’ or ‘jound’ are new to all children. Children cannot read the non-words by using their memory or vocabulary; they have to use their decoding skills. This is a fair way to assess their ability to decode.

After the check

We will tell you about your child’s progress in phonics and how they have done in the screening check in the last half-term of Year 1.

If your child has found the check difficult, we will also tell you what support we have put in place to help them improve.

Children who have not met the standard in Year 1 will retake the check in Year 2. All children are individuals and develop at different rates. The screening check ensures that teachers understand which children need extra help with phonic decoding.

How you can help at home!

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  • By making sure your child has their book bag in school with them on the days their teacher requires.
  • By practising the letters, sounds and tricky words in their book bags every day.
  • Your child will be sent home a phonetically decodable book at their reading/phonics level. Read this with them daily and ask questions about what they have read.
  • By practising their book daily to develop word recognition, they will begin to read it with fluency rather than sounding out words each time they see them. This also develops a greater understanding of what they are reading – comprehension.