As a school, we follow the Unlocking Letters and Sounds phonics programme which was validated by the Department of Education (DfE) in December 2021.
The scheme divides phonemes (sounds) and graphemes (letters) into ‘phases’ which are numbered; the scheme is highly sequential and designed so that children develop strong foundations in both reading and writing that they can continue to develop.
Initially, we teach phonics by encouraging students to hear, play and respond to sounds, rhythm and rhyme. These skills are referred to as phase 1. Some students may be working prior to this satge and their focus is to attend and enage.
Students progress in and develop this skills base, before they begin to learn the main sounds heard in the English Language and how they can be represented, as well as learning ‘Common Exception’ words in phases 2, 3 and 4. They use these sounds to read and write simple words, captions and sentences.
As they progress into phase 5a, b and c, they learn alternative spellings and pronunciations for the graphemes and additional ‘Common Exception Words’.
By the end of these phases, students will have mastered using phonics to decode and blend when reading and to segment when spelling.
To ensure no student is left behind at any point in the progression, students are regularly assessed and supported to keep up through bespoke 1-1 interventions. These include grapheme to phoneme correspondence (GPC) recognition, as well as blending and segmenting interventions. The lowest attaining 20% of pupils are closely monitored to ensure these interventions have an impact.
Due to the wide range of students here at Fosse Way, the timeline of teaching the full phonics programme is pitched at each student’s individual pace of learning, this allows them to cover the whole scheme securely. This means that some students continue to follow the programme throughout primary, secondary and where appropriate, in post 16. This provides the time that some individual learners need to develop these crucial skills that form the building blocks of reading and writing.
The scheme itself includes multisensory elements, such as actions and images. However, due to our students’ need for over learning, individual teachers include additional multisensory based activities, linked to the scheme, to help embed learning and to increase fluency.
Phonics Based Reading Scheme:
At Fosse Way School we promote a ‘phonics first’ approach; texts are very closely matched to a child’s current phonics knowledge so that every child can experience real success in their reading.
In these crucial early stages of reading, we primarily use books from Ransom Reading Stars, to ensure complete fidelity to the Unlocking Letters and Sounds teaching programme.
Once students have mastered these skills and progressed beyond decodable texts, they are able to access a wide range of texts in our well stocked library.