Thorney Close Primary School

"Where Learning Blossoms..."

Reading and Phonics

Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 Reading And Phonics

English is taught daily with work appropriately differentiated to match all abilities. We aim to nurture in the children a love of literature and language and the confidence to continue reading and writing throughout their lives.

With parental support, we want our children to:

  • Speak clearly and confidently in any situation.
  • Listen actively and respond appropriately, developing knowledge and opinion.
  • Read fluently for both pleasure and information.
  • Write clearly and with confidence in any given genre.
  • Use spelling rules, phonics and grammar accurately.
  • Be able to proofread their own work and make amendments and improvements.

 What is phonics?

There has been a big shift in the past few years in how we teach reading in school.  This is having a huge impact and helping many children learn to read and spell.  Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them learn to read.  Phonics runs alongside other teaching methods to help children develop vital reading skills and give them a real love of reading – hopefully for life.

Phoneme?  Grapheme?  

Words are made up from small units of sound (phonemes) and phonics teaches children to listen carefully and identify the phonemes that make up each word.  This helps them learn to read and spell words.

In phonics lessons children are taught three main things:

  •  GPCs (grapheme phoneme correspondences)

GPCs simply means that children are taught all the phonemes in the English language and ways of writing them down. 

  •  Blending

Children are taught to blend sounds together by merging the individual sounds together until they can hear what the word is.  This is a vital reading skill.

  •  Segmenting

Segmenting is the opposite of blending!  Children are able to say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up.  This is a vital spelling skill.

Why is phonics so tricky?

The English language is very complicated!  England has been invaded so many times throughout its history and each set of invaders brought new words and new sounds with them.  As a result, English only has around 44 phonemes but there are around 120 graphemes or ways of writing down those 44 phonemes.  Plus, we only have 26 letters in the alphabet so some graphemes are made up from more than one letter. 

ch  th  oo ay  (these are digraphs – graphemes with two letters)

There are other graphemes that are trigraphs (made up of 3 letters) and a very few made from 4 letters.

Some graphemes can represent more than one phoneme, ie, ch can make different sounds, chip, school, chef

Learning to read is like cracking a code so teaching phonics is a way of teaching children to crack the code.  As reading is the key to learning it is important that we teach phonics clearly and systematically learning easy bits first then progressing to trickier bits!

At Thorney Close Primary School reading and phonics are taught in accordance with the National Curriculum and the Revised Literacy Framework using Read Write Inc. 

We are passionate about teaching children to read. Reading enriches children's vocabulary, their writing and their spelling. They have access to the wider curriculum and their self-esteem is enhanced because they realise they are succeeding.

A key element in our teaching of reading and writing is that practice across the school is completely consistent. All staff in school have received extensive training and have a shared understanding of how to teach children to read and write. Our teaching model uses strategies of participation, praise, pace, purpose and passion. These key teaching strategies ensure that every child has the opportunity to be successful. All children participate fully in the whole lesson working in partnerships and teams working cooperatively together. There is no chance for children to lose concentration. A lively pace keeps all the children fully engaged and motivated.

Each child’s reading journey begins in EYFS where phonics is introduced using the Read Write Inc, phonic cards. As children progress through school and their phonetic awareness develops, reading books from Oxford Reading are introduced.

The children learn to decode by learning 44 sounds and matching letters/ letter groups; by learning to blend sounds to read words and by reading specially written books that include only the sounds that the children have been learning and therefore ensuring success as the children are never given anything that they can't read. The English language has 44 phonemes (letter sounds), but more than 150 graphemes (the way the sound is written down) so therefore is a very complex code. Through Read Write Inc., children are taught a simple code first before moving on to the complex code. To see the simple speed sounds and the complex speed sound charts used in Read Write Inc., please click on the links below.