The primary approach in teaching pupils to read at Carter’s Charity Primary school, is through the systematic teaching of synthetic phonics. This takes high priority throughout Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. Our six-phase programme has been based upon the structure and guidance of ‘Letters and Sounds’. This programme introduces pupils to the relationship between sounds (phonemes) and the written spelling patterns which represent them (graphemes), in a specific order within the context of a language-rich curriculum. Effective teaching, guided by ‘Letters and Sounds’, enables pupils to see the relationship between reading and spelling from an early stage, such that the teaching of one reinforces understanding of the other. Decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling) are treated as reversible processes.
Initial teaching of the programme is rooted within widely accepted best practice for the Early Years Foundation Stage, in which pupils’ speaking and listening skills are prioritised. At Carter’s we believe that the more words pupils know and understand, the better equipped they are to succeed in reading and learning overall.
All pupils in Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 have daily phonics lessons in small ability groups, where they participate in speaking, listening, spelling and reading activities, which are matched to their current needs. Our teachers draw upon observations and continuous assessment to ensure pupils are stretched and challenged, and to identify those who may need additional support. Timely intervention is then implemented, in order that, all pupils have the opportunity to reach their full potential. The six-phase structure of ‘Letters and Sounds’ provides useful guidance from which to map pupils’ progress. The aim is that by the end of Year 1 the teaching of phonics should be substantially complete, with word structures and spelling patterns being learnt during Year 2. Children then continue to build on these foundations, with further learning in spelling, throughout Key Stage 2.
Pupils’ phonics ability is tested at the end of Year 1, using the statutory Phonics Screening Check. Pupils who do not reach the threshold receive intervention and are tested again at the end of Year 2. Results are reported to parents. Those children who do not meet the required standard in the Phonics Screening Check by the end of Key Stage 1 are supported in Key Stage 2 with interventions to support their phonics development, thereby improving their reading ability and overall ability to access the curriculum and learning accordingly.