The foundations for reading and writing at the Cambridge Primary School are taught daily in phonics lessons but planned opportunities throughout the curriculum extend phonics teaching and learning beyond ‘dedicated time’. Consequently, learning is applied, reinforced and relevant connections are identified for the children.
What is phonics?
Phonics is designed to help teach children to read and spell by teaching the skills of segmenting and blending, the alphabetic code and an understanding of how this is used in reading and spelling. Simply put, it is sounding out a word and blending the sounds back together to read the whole word. When writing, it is hearing the sounds in a word and writing them down to spell it correctly. From September 2021, we are teaching phonics in Reception and Year 1 using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised (2021) programme. This is a systematic synthetic phonics programme, validated by the Department for Education.
Spoken English uses about 42 sounds (phonemes). These phonemes are represented by letters (graphemes). The alphabet contains only 26 letters, but we use it to make all the graphemes that represent the phonemes of English. In other words, a sound can be represented by a letter (e.g. ‘s’) or a group of letters (e.g. ‘th’ or ‘igh’) Once children begin learning letters, they are used as quickly as possible in reading and spelling words. Children can then see the purpose of learning letters. For this reason, the first six letters taught are ‘s’, ‘a’, ‘t’, ‘p’, ‘i’, ‘n’. These can immediately be used to make a number of words such as ‘sat’, ‘pin’, ‘pat’, ‘tap’, ‘nap’. Following this, children continue learning sounds and the letters that represent them in a particular order. Our Phonic Reader books are organised into the same order, so the children can practise reading the sounds and words they are learning in lessons.
See the Overview of Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised for further guidance.
How can I help my child?
As a parent, your involvement in supporting your child’s learning will be a vital factor in determining their success in learning to read. You will receive a weekly Home Learning letter with the focus sounds and words for the week that you can play games with. Magnetic letters are a fun multi-sensory way to learn letters and develop reading and spelling skills. Games such as I-Spy (using the letter sound) are also effective.
Below, are useful links to the Little Wandle website to support understanding of how we teach the children.
How do I know if my child is saying the sounds correctly?
It is most important that children pronounce the sounds clearly. To help you support your child with this, go to the How to say the sounds page.
How is Phonics assessed?
Phonics is assessed continuously during phonics lessons, when your child reads and through a half-termly assessment. This helps teachers to identify and plan for the children’s next steps to ensure they progress.
What is the Phonics Screening Check?
There is a National Phonics Screening Check in Year 1 (in June) where the children have to read 20 real words and 20 ‘alien’ words (described below) containing sounds from Phase Two to Five. This is conducted in a very child-friendly way by the class teachers. At the end of Year 1, you will be informed if your child has met the threshold score for the check. If they have not met the threshold, they will be given additional support in Year 2 to enable them to meet it.
For further guidance regarding phonics at The Cambridge Primary School, please see the Phonics and Early Reading Policy