Phonics Parent Guide
Download the Word Lists:
For further information on the new curriculum:
The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
- read easily, fluently and with good understanding
- develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
- acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
- appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
- write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
- use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
- are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate
In life, words are extremely important and powerful. Without words, we would find it incredibly difficult to communicate, our thoughts, feelings, dreams, hopes and fears. They are vehicles of communication and as such the ability to understand, say, read and write them is of paramount importance to enable us all to communicate and enjoy the many riches that the spoken and written word has to offer.
We use words to communicate in many different ways and contexts: we use them to communicate with others by speaking and listening, receive messages in print, for example, in newspapers, magazines, comics and books, labels on tins and food packets; we need to be able to use words effectively to send and receive text messages and by posting and messaging friends on social media, such as Twitter. We are surrounded by words and language and because they are so central to our lives here at Aylesham, we strive to offer our children the richest opportunities that develop a natural love for words (vocabulary) and how to use them effectively in a range of contexts for different purposes.
The Importance of English
English underpins all areas of the curriculum. Therefore, the teaching of the skills required to communicate effectively through the spoken and written word are taken very seriously at Aylesham Primary School.
At Aylesham, reading is given the highest priority. Developing a passion for reading and an appreciation of the written language is vital in order for children to become independent learners and achieve in all areas of the curriculum. We want children to become enthusiastic and reflective readers, who appreciate the importance of reading as a life-long skill in the wider world, but also value books as a source of pleasure and enjoyment.
We teach and raise the profile of reading through a variety of means:
- Structured guided reading sessions from Year 1 to Year 6
- Phonics is taught daily from Reception to Year 3
- Core texts, which relate to the class’ current curriculum theme, form the basis of Curriculum planning
- Reading skills are applied in all subjects such as science and RE
- Reading buddies are in action from Reception to Year 6
- Stories are shared across year groups, in assemblies and at the end of the day in class
- Children are given opportunities to share their own stories that they have written
- Special reading events such as ‘World Book Week’, storytelling sessions and Book Fairs
- One to one reading with staff, parents and volunteer reader helpers.
- Library visits
- Learning Environments that promote and encourage reading
Reading at Home
We understand that parents play a key role in encouraging their child to develop a positive attitude to reading. Children love to listen to and tell their own stories; talking about books and sharing them together can be an enjoyable experience for all involved.
Foundation Stage and KS1:
Parents should read with their child for about 10 minutes each day. At this age, little and often is most effective. We believe it is important that children are exposed to a range of texts; for this reason we use a variety of reading schemes for home/school reading books. Teachers and teaching assistants ensure that the level of the book the child takes home is appropriate and carefully monitor the amount children are reading at home.
Once your child has learned to decode and can read fluently, reading mileage (reading as many texts and text types as possible) remains extremely important to their development. The opportunity to talk about what they have read to develop their understanding (comprehension) is vital; therefore, we recommend that parents and carers continue to listen to their children read.
At Aylesham we believe that language is a powerful tool for learning and social development and are committed to developing children’s spoken and written form. We understand that reading and writing go hand in hand; children need to be capable and fluent readers in order to become capable and fluent writers.
We recognise that writing is a complicated process and therefore, in order for children to succeed, our planning provides a range of scaffolds to support their success. These scaffolds include: talk for writing, drama and role play, technology, writing for a range of purposes and audiences, explicit grammar teaching in context, exposure to high quality texts, visual and language models as well as the systematic teaching of spelling and handwriting.
All year groups have regular opportunities to write at length across a range of subjects, topics and genres. In addition to this, we have a ‘Creative Writing’ focus on a weekly basis engaging the children to write enthusiastically with increasing independence. These writing initiatives also provide opportunities for teachers to assess the child’s writing when less support is given.
Parents can support children’s writing by encouraging them to write for a range of real-life purposes and audiences at home. For example:
- Shopping lists/ to do lists
- Story writing
- Captions for photographs
Handwriting is an essential skill for both children and adults. At Aylesham we believe it is important to support children to develop neat, attractive and consistent handwriting and have pride in their written work. Teaching staff have consistently high expectations of handwriting and presentation across all subjects and encourage children to apply handwriting skills taught across the curriculum.
Spelling and Phonics
Spelling is taught daily in the Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 as part of phonics lessons using ‘Letters and Sounds’ with ‘Phonics Play’ and texts produced by Oxford University Press to support. Through Letters and Sounds, a DFE publication, children learn the 44 sounds that form the basis of learning how to read. Our phonics’ lessons aim to build children's speaking and listening skills in their own right, as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. Our approach to the teaching of phonics is a detailed and systematic programme which aims for all children to become fluent readers by age seven.
There are six overlapping phonics phases. The table below is a summary of each phase:
Phonic Knowledge and Skills
Phase One (Nursery/Reception)
Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting.
Phase Two (Reception) up to 6 weeks
Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.
Phase Three (Reception) up to 12 weeks
The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet, one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch, oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. Reading captions, sentences and questions. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt the "simple code", i.e. one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language
Phase Four (Reception) 4 to 6 weeks
No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump.
Phases Five and 6 (Throughout Year 1 and revised in Year 2)
Now we move on to the "complex code". Children learn more graphemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know. Children begin to work on strategies for more complex spelling patterns, including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.
Phonics continues to be taught in Key Stage 2 where spelling rules and patterns are investigated, taught and practiced. Common ‘exception’ words are also taught. In addition to this the children use ‘Clued Spelling’ which is an individualised spelling programme driven by the children and closely monitored by the teaching staff. We have also subscribed to ‘Spellodrome’ which is an online learning tool which the children can access freely at home by logging in to the ‘Mathletics and Spellodrome’ site. This online tool enables children to practise their spellings being taught at school, whilst building points to enhance their avatar.
Lists of words are sent home each week for children to learn. These might be common ‘exception’ words, words relating to the class’ theme or lists of words that fit a particular pattern or rule.