At William Rhodes Primary & Nursery School we provide high-quality phonic sessions (Letters and Sounds) to ensure that all children have the best opportunities to become competent and confident readers and writers. We aim to secure skills of word recognition and decoding which will enable children at our school to read with fluency and enjoyment.
Planning and organisation
We follow the Letters and Sounds principles and practice of high quality phonics. Resources and planning can be found on the Teacher Drive under Letters and Sounds. We follow a consistent approach in every class including lesson structure and seating plan. There are six phases within Letters and Sounds which run from Nursery to Year Two. There is time scale guidance in the Letters and Sounds document.
Daily sessions of approximately half an hour take place within EYFS and KS1. Children are placed into groups which meet their needs. Groups are reviewed regularly to ensure that children are being challenged and gaps in learning are targeted.
Teaching and Learning Assistants
Teaching Assistants play an active role in supporting the class phonics lessons and in targeted interventions. Their role is to work alongside the teacher and children assessing a supporting the needs of the learners as required. This may take the form of modelling an activity alongside the teacher, providing feedback for children, enforcing expectations, giving feedback to teachers (assessment of individual children etc.)
Elements of Letters and Sounds
There are 4 elements to a Phonics session at William Rhodes: Review, Teach, Practise and Apply.
Review - Flashcards are used daily to recap graphemes previously taught. This section should be fast paced and allow children to apply their prior learning quickly.
Teach – This section contains new learning / a new GPC (Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence). It uses a multi-sensory approach and a daily sound sheet.
Practise – This section of the lesson allows the children to practise their reading/writing skills.
Apply – This section should give children the opportunity to apply their skills independently through reading/writing the day’s GPC and a sentence / sentences containing decodable words that feature the day’s GPC and tricky words / decodable words learned in previous sessions.
Letters and Sounds takes place between 9:00am -9:30am every day. Ensuring the appropriate time is spent on each section of Letters and Sounds is essential to ensure children can apply their teaching. Times are approximately as follows (depending on the group):
The longest part of the session should always be the apply element to ensure children can work independently. With lower ability groups during the apply element you may wish to split your group into 2 or 3 depending on their independence or ability, to allow each group to have different challenges.
Spellings are an important aspect of letters and sounds. Before children are given spellings they must be able to orally segment using their robot arms in order to be able to access writing words. Most children are given 10 spellings per week. Children on provision maps/lower ability children may be given up to 5 spellings. Spellings are given out and tested on a Monday. We use spellings linked to the graphemes being taught in school. When giving spellings out we ensure our handwriting is modelled using our school approach. A record of spelling scores should be kept and discussions with parents should take place if children are getting low scores regularly.
We have a bank of resources on our Teacher Drive to ensure we can cater for a range of games and activities. It is also advised that resources are made according to the interests of your group such as Minions, Frozen or Trolls. Using themed activities motivates our children and they are more engaged.
Teaching of Tricky Words
Tricky words should be taught at the beginning of each phase and recapped regularly during the review aspect of your lesson. Tricky words should also be taught during English lessons too. When teaching tricky words we find using characters children are interested in such as Batman, Olaf etc. engage the children more. Also using actions for each tricky word and taking a “photo” in their head allows children to remember the words better. Tricky word games such as bingo or NSEW are also great to use in the review element of Letters and Sounds.
We use regular informal and formal assessments to keep a constant check on the children’s progress and sticking points. We use this information to guide our regular interventions which could be a pre-teach or post-teach or both.
Reading at home
Early Years and Infant children are encouraged to read at home each day and take home a fully decodable book which has been chosen based on the current sound being taught. They have an additional ‘reading for pleasure’ book that they are familiar with from class reading. They also visit the school library regularly and choose a book from our extensive collection.