Phonics and Spelling
LETTERS AND SOUNDS PHONICS
At West Acton Primary school we teach Phonics using the government
‘Letters and Sounds’ programme
Planning is in place from Nursery though to Year 2 based on the Governments ‘Letters and Sounds’ publication. Letters, including the letter name and the sound they make, are introduced one at a time.
Pupils are encouraged to use their knowledge of the letter sounds to blend and sound out words. For example, they will learn to blend the sounds s-a-t to make the word sat. They will also start learning to segment words. For example, they might be asked to find the letter sounds that make the word tap from a small selection of magnetic letters. This is decoded or word reading. As they progress pupils are able to read the words fluently without segmenting and blending. Words that are referred to as ‘Tricky words’ are also taught: the, to, no, go, into and I. These are not decodable and children have to remember how to read and spell them.
After the teaching and assessment of the Phase 2 letters and sounds, pupils in Reception are set for phonics throughout KS1. Pupils are assessed at the end of each Phase, results from which are recorded into class folders. Going up to Year 3, a group of pupils may still require phonics teaching before accessing the Spelling curriculum. Due to the mobile and diverse nature of West Acton pupils we still need to offer phonics lessons to our older pupils.
The National Curriculum includes statutory spelling requirements for Years 3 & 4 together and Years 5 & 6 together plus a high frequency word list. Every half term, each year group will have explicit spelling lessons on different spelling rules and patterns: they will also be given words to take home and learn to be tested on in class. The word list is tested three times a year and additional lessons may be given covering the words on those lists too.
Spellings are displayed in class and children are encouraged to find them during their reading and use them in their work. At the start of the year a spelling practice booklet is sent home to reinforce the learning and help parents/carers support the children.
Whilst younger pupils are encouraged to make phonetically plausible attempts at spelling, once the rule/pattern has been taught children are expected to spell words correctly. The more a child reads the better their spelling (and vocabulary) will be as they will have had more exposure to the correct spelling.
Phonics Screening Test
In the Summer term of Year 1, the children complete a statutory phonics screening check. This is a short, light-touch assessment introduced by the Government for the first time in 2012 to confirm whether individual pupils have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard.
The screening comprises a list of 40 real and nonsense-words (pseudo words), which your child read one-to-one with a teacher. Pseudo words allow the assessment to focus purely on decoding phonic knowledge. As pseudo-words are new to all children. The words in the screening incorporate phonics skills acquired by the children in both Year 1 and Reception. It is conducted in a quiet room without distractions. Administering the assessment usually takes between four and nine minutes per child.
Non-words (made up words) are included because they will be new to all children, so there won’t be a bias to those with a good vocabulary knowledge or visual memory of words. Children who can read non-words should have the skills to decode almost any unfamiliar word. The non-words are presented alongside a picture of an imaginary creature, and children can be told the non-word is the name of that type of creature. This helps children to understand the non-word should not be matched to their existing vocabulary.
Examples of words include: star, shelf.
Examples of non-words include: dov, vead.
All children need to be able to identify sounds associated with different letters, and letter combinations, and then blend these sounds together to correctly say the word on the page. The same skill is needed whether the word is a real word or a non-word.
The words gradually get harder through the check as the combinations of letters become more complicated. As long as the child has said 32 out of the 40 words correctly, they will be considered to have met the standard.
Children should not realise that they are being formally assessed. The check should be seen as part of their everyday phonics activities and not as a test.
Children who do not reach the required standard in Year 1 will be retested in Year 2.
Click on the below pictures to be taken to information about each phase.