Reading and Phonics at Key Stage 1

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All work at Key Stage 1 (KS1) follows from the work undertaken in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).  Systematic synthetic phonics is taught daily for 20 minutes either by the class teacher or TAs in smaller groups with a clear structure based upon the 6 phases in the “Letters and Sounds” programme. (This programme is supplemented by the Jolly Phonics scheme, Phonicsplay, Mr Thorne and various VCOP interactive games).  The phonemes need to be pronounced consistently - a demonstration of pronunciation can be found here.

Through a multi-sensory approach (physical movements – hand actions, writing on whiteboards, practical manipulation of solid letters or mnemonics), the children are first taught to listen to and hear phonemes, followed by learning to say the phonemes represented by individual letters. These letters are not taught in alphabetical order, rather in order of usefulness and are based on the “Letters and Sounds” programme (eg s, a, t, i, p, n are the first six letters to be learnt).  The children can then begin to read and spell simple words as quickly as possible once they have mastered the grapheme-phoneme correspondences.

The children are taught to blend (for reading) and segment (for spelling) the individual phonemes in a real or nonsense word, working from left to right and are shown how the two are reversible.  They are taught all the 44 phonemes in the English language which consist of either the 26 individual letters of the alphabet or combinations of letters.   The children are taught that single phonemes can be spelt using 1, 2, 3 or 4 letters (aw = or/au/ore/augh/ough) and that one grapheme can represent different phonemes (eg ea = short vowel e as in “head” or long vowel ee as in “read”).  These graphemes are given their correct name and the children are used to hearing the terms “digraph”, “consonant digraph” (sh, th, ch, ng), “vowel digraph” (ai, ee), “split vowel digraph” (or “magic ee”) or even trigraph.

Irregular words are known as “Tricky Words” and are taught to be read on sight using a variety of methods such as flashcards, IWB games, word searches etc.

Wider reading skills (including inference) are taught alongside the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics during weekly Guided Reading sessions when the children have the opportunity to discuss a wide variety of texts, apply their phonic knowledge when reading unfamiliar words and read High Frequency Words on sight.

Children are assessed according to the 6 phases of “Letters and Sounds” on a termly basis and their reading books to be taken home are based on this assessment.  The main reading schemes used within school are Oxford Reading Tree, Ginn 360, Songbirds, Floppy’s Phonics and Dandelion Readers (the latter two were purchased with match funding).