Phonics at NCS
At Newbold Church School it is our intent that phonics is taught in a fun and interactive manner which enables the children to use mnemonics and actions to recall phonemes and graphemes from their session. This then enables them to be able to apply this key skill in their reading and writing starting from Nursery as a strong foundation to build on. The children will be able to use the strong phonics foundation taught throughout EYFS and KS1 through the rest of their school journey and in their wider life.
At Newbold Church School, phonics is taught using the Department for Education validated "Supersonic Phonic Friends" programme. This is a fully systematic, synthetic phonic approach ranging from the simple to the complex spellings of the alphabetic code.
Supported by the Supersonic Phonic friends, this approach helps our children to develop confidence and apply each skill to their own reading and writing. We have chosen this programme as it provides an engaging, fun and active approach to teaching, which matches our ethos in school.
A progression document provided by Supersonic Phonics demonstrates how it will be implemented across the different year groups and how skills are built on from Nursery through to Year 2.
Children will have a strong foundation in phonics and be able to recognise the 44 sounds (or phonemes) in the English language, know which letters (or graphemes) represent these. They will be able to correctly apply these into their reading and writing, working towards an independent way of working. This will enable the children to become fluent readers and confident writers, having all the foundation skills needed.
We use a range of strategies to assess these skills and knowledge including the following:
- Phonics tracker to assess the children's progress (each half term / full term)
- Phonics jotter to monitor the application of the phonics in the children's writing
- In lesson observations
- Pupil's voice and self-assessment
- Feedback from each lesson
Structure of a Phonics session
The daily phonics sessions in EYFS and KS1 are approximately 20/25 minutes long with additional Supersonic Phonic Jobs to complete after the sessions, such as rehearsing our letter formations, applying our new skills in reading and writing.
For our lowest 20% this may include a pre-teach for the following day to give them the skills they need to be able to participate fully in the session. Depending on teacher assessment throughout the phonics session, some children may also need a post-teach if they need further support to grasp a specific sound.
Below is an example of the phonics session from Supersonic Phonic Friends which shows the format for all phonics teaching at NCS.
Phonics in The Nest Nursery
In The Nest children develop their phonological awareness through taking part in adult-led activities which promote listening skills. We use Phase 1 of the Supersonic Phonic Friends scheme. Through these activities our children develop their auditory discrimination, and auditory memory. Activities to support the progress in our children’s phonological awareness and interest in sounds, are embedded prior to the introduction of systematic phonics teaching in Reception.
Children in Nursery are also able to use phonics play bags at home to support Phase 1 of the scheme. These are play based activities to complete with their families to encourage listening and auditory discrimination skills.
Phonics in Reception
In Reception, phonics sessions starts as soon as the children have successfully transitioned and settled. During the transitions we baseline the children to ascertain their current phonics ability. As children transition to NCS from a variety of different early years settings, the variation in previous learning differs. Some children may need further teaching input in Phase 1 prior to starting Phase 2.
All phonics sessions are led by teaching staff in small ability groups. This enables us to drill down into each child's journey and needs. If some children need more consolidation to embed the learning, this enables us to be able to tailor sessions to suit the emerging needs. It also allows challenge for children who need it.
For children who may need a little more support we will use pre- and post-teach techniques to enhance their learning journey. Phonics playbags for Phase 1, 2 and 3 will be used to support their journey by extending this into their home to consolidate the phonics skills through play.
By the end of Reception we expect most children to be fully secure in Phase 3 of their phonics journey, with some children moving onto Phase 4.
It is very important that parents support their children at home with their phonics journey. This helps to consolidate their learning and practise their skills. One way is through early reading. There is more information about reading at home further down this page.
Another way is to ask your child what they have learnt at school and incorporate this at home. Here are some parent newsletters to help you to know the order in which we teach the 44 sounds and some ideas for how to support your child at home.
Phonics in Year One
In Year One, phonics sessions will focus on Phase 4 and Phase 5, with a recap on Phase 3 at the start of the year based on children's needs. Teaching will be in small groups led by teaching staff enabling tailored support and challenge when required.
For children who may need a little more support we will use pre- and post-teach techniques to enhance their learning journey. Phonics playbags will be used to support their journey by extending this into their home to consolidate the phonics skills through playful activities.
Within the final half-term of Year One children will undertake their Phonics Screening Check to ascertain their level of understanding and ability to apply their knowledge. More information on the Phonics Screening Check can be found here.
It is very important that parents support their children at home with their phonics journey. This helps to consolidate their learning and practise their skills. One way is through reading the school books sent home, but also supplementing this with looking for incidental learning when you are out and about. This could be reading road signs, menus, maps or reading comics and books from the library.
It is important to understand what your child is learning at school and the order in which the phonic sounds are taught in. Here are some parent newsletters to help you to support your child at home.
Phonics in Year Two
In Year Two, children will continue to follow Supersonic Phonic Friends scheme. Children who did not reach the pass mark in Year One for their Phonics Screening Check will revisit the phases of phonics they need to embed further. This will be closely monitored to ensure they receive the support they need to be able to apply their phonics knowledge to decode words with their known phonemes.
Children in Year Two will continue to learn common exception words suitable for their current stage of development and will practise these in their reading and writing.
As with Year One it is vital that parents support their children's learning journey by reading at home each day. The children will be taking decodable books home that are matched to their level of concrete understanding in their phonics journey. This ensures the child is able to comfortably read at home with success.
Applying Phonics Knowledge into Early Reading
At NCS we have invested time, effort and money into our early reading scheme. We have incorporated a variety of different reading schemes that are all organised into phonics phases based on the content of the books. We have carefully chosen the different schemes to enable the children to have a variety and breadth in their reading experiences.
The reading books sent home will be aligned to the children's phonics stage to enable the children to read with the confidence that they know all the sounds in the book. On occasions books may have the odd word that the child cannot decode. These are written into the fronts of the books to enable parents to help out.
Home reading is very much about children showing off their decoding skills to their family, so the children should be able to read these books with ease after a couple of attempts.
We send home two books each week. The children should practise reading and rereading throughout the week. These are then read with teaching staff during the week and changed when the child is confident in both their reading and their comprehension of the books.
Assessment in Phonics
As with all areas of the curriculum, assessment is an integral part of the teaching process. Class teachers keep records of work carried out, and levels of achievement for each child. Phonics Jotters are used in Reception, Year One and Year Two for the children to apply their learning in a written form. These are assessed by teaching staff on completion.
Formative assessment is used to guide the teaching of individual pupils in Phonics. At NCS we use Phonics Tracker each half term / term to assess whether the child is able to recall phoneme sounds, apply this to blend to read words, segment to spell words using known sounds and read the common exception words taught within the phonics sessions.
The ongoing assessment processes and formative assessments are used to ensure children understanding and retaining the information taught in sessions and are reading the correct level of books. They are also used to implement interventions where needed and ensure children are in the correct teaching group for phonics.
Supporting Children with SEND to access Phonics
Adaptations are in place for children who may need additional support to access our phonics sessions. This may include seating positions nearer the interactive white board for visually impaired children, seating support for those who need it or 1-1 teaching assistant support. Other adaptations may include sloped writing supports, grip mat and pencil grips for those who need this for the writing element of the phonics teaching. Teachers and teaching assistants will adapt the teaching to meet the needs of all individual children.
Pupil Premium Children
As part of our monitoring processes we ensure that children in the receipt of Pupil Premium are able to fully access all aspects of Phonics.
Additional links you may find helpful
Updated August 2023