Reading is a core life skill, which opens up a world of opportunities and is the key to unlocking wider learning and improving self-esteem. We are committed to ensuring that children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers and therefore, the ability to decode efficiently is essential.
Phonics provides the foundations of learning to read and spell words and is a key skill that supports the development of early reading. Through daily, systematic and consistent high-quality teaching, children learn to develop a strong phonic and phonemic awareness and are taught to use this awareness to confidently blend phonemes to read and segment in order to spell. It teaches children to crack that code and then use it to read and write. Children learn the simplest letters and sounds first and then progress to get the hang of trickier ones later.
We intend for pupils at Hunnyhill to:
Recognise, say and write all phonemes once they have been taught
Use their phonic knowledge to blend and segment phonetically decodable words
Use their phonic knowledge to attempt to read and write more complex words
Read easily, fluently and with good understanding, age and ability appropriate texts
Develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
Write clearly, accurately and coherently, using phonic knowledge
At Hunnyhill, we use a systematic approach to teaching phonics, right from the start of their journey with us in our pre-school. In Early Years and Key Stage 1, the development of reading begins with the systematic and rigorous teaching of daily phonics, using the Phonics Shed phonics programme.
To ensure that teaching is consistent and that all children receive the same high quality, systematic approach to phonics, these 30-minute sessions are planned and resourced using the Phonics Shed planning and resources and the connected Phonics Shed and Big Cat Phonics reading books,
In their phonics lessons, children quickly build a knowledge of phonemes and graphemes, as well as an increasing recognition of sight words. Summative assessments are used at least every 6 weeks, to ensure that children are working at the correct chapter, but formative assessment is applied daily by the teachers and specific intervention and support is made accordingly.
Reading books at this stage are consistent with their assessed phonic stage of development and allow children to apply their phonic knowledge in school and at home. Children are also encouraged to take home a ‘reading for pleasure’ book from our school library. This book allows other reading strategies to be employed and children are exposed to a greater range of vocabulary and genres.
Children who may need additional intervention, may also be invited to attend after-school phonics tuition to help them to increase their progress.
The Phonics Shed programme uses a multi-sensory approach to teaching phonics by including books, games, songs and actions.
The Phonics Shed programme is organised into chapters:
Chapter 1 begins in our pre-school and introduces children to the main character of Joe. The chapter promotes active listening, tuning into environmental and instrumental sounds, listening to stories and rhymes and developing their motor skills. This chapter also supports children in learning the process of reading from left to right and beginning to explore the skills of blending and segmenting before they continue their phonics journey in reception class. Chapter 1 is also recapped in the first week of reception class.
Chapter 2; The second chapter of Phonics Shed begins at the start of reception year. It introduces all 26 letters of the alphabet, including capitals, and begins to link them to sounds. The first digraphs – ‘ck’, ‘qu’ and the most common double letters are also included, and it begins the process of choosing the most plausible letter for the sound (best fit judgement) The graphemes, and their corresponding phonemes, for Chapter 2 are split into eight sets and are represented by an individual character.
This initial phase of grapheme-phoneme correspondence allows the children to use the phonemic knowledge skills covered by Chapter 1 and begin to apply them to reading and writing letters. If children have not attended Nursery and covered Chapter 1, there is a one-week recap/overview week at the beginning of the school year and the Chapter 1 interventions can be used alongside the Chapter 2 planning for those needing additional support. Children do not need to have mastered all the Chapter 1 skills to move on. Chapter 2 revisits many of the skills covered in Chapter 1 and builds upon them, allowing children to progress at a suitable pace in their reading and writing skills.
Chapter 2 also introduces children to the first set of High frequency Words.
Chapter 3: The third chapter of the Phonics Shed programme continues in reception year and progresses the children’s knowledge onto a wide range of digraphs and introduces trigraphs. By the end of Chapter 3, children will have been introduced to one grapheme for every phoneme, apart from /zh/ which is taught in Chapter 4b. During this Chapter, the children will progress to reading and writing longer sentences and continue to apply blending and segmenting skills from Chapters 1 and 2. The digraphs and trigraphs in Chapter 3 are split into five sets and are all represented by an individual character and supported by the individual characters from Chapter 2.
Chapter 3 introduces children to further High Frequency Words.
It is our aim for children to complete chapter 3 sounds by the end of their reception year.
Chapter 4 is split into 3 sections: a, b and c
Chapter 4a begins at the start of year 1 and covers alternative graphemes for known phonemes. As the focus is alternative GPCs, there is also a strong focus in this chapter on best fit rules
Chapter 4b focuses on many of the most common alternative pronunciations for known graphemes. Some have already been covered previously in the scheme and there is an option to recap these as part of Set 1. This chapter also introduces the final new phoneme, /zh/, for which there are several different spellings. By the end of this chapter, the children will have covered all GPCs included in the Phonics Screening Check and more.
Chapter 4c begins in the second half of the summer term in year 1 and continues into year 2. This chapter of the scheme looks at additional less-common GPCs that have not yet been explored, and compares them to previously-taught GPCs. The GPCs are grouped by phoneme; the chapter covers GPCs with alternatives – only the /th/ sounds have no common alternatives. There are so many alternative GPCs in the English language that not all can be covered, but Phonics Shed ensures all but the rarest are mentioned.
How can I help at home?
Talk, talk, talk!
As a parent, you are the model of good speaking and listening. Regularly introduce new words (vocabulary). For example, for the word big you could also introduce large, huge, or enormous. Encourage them to say the word too. This is not about reading the words but about your child hearing and saying them.
Start off using just the speech sounds and then immediately say the word. For example, At the shop I will buy a… /m/ /a/ /p/ – map, a /b/ /e/ /d/ – bed, a /d/ /u/ /ck/ – duck. Encourage your child to join in with you after you have this modelled for them. Then say the sounds and ask your child to say the whole word.
Practising and reading with your child every day – even if it’s just for 10 minutes! Help your child practise their blending using their decodable reading book. Read their school library book with them and talk about what they’ve heard or read for themselves. Re-read books so that they build up their bank of stories and texts that they know well.
Help children to practise saying the sounds correctly – there’s a short video here to help with how to pronounce the sounds.
Repetition, repetition, repetition! – Teachers post the sounds that the children are learning, on their Class Dojo page. Practise recognising them and saying the sounds clearly. There’s also a link here for children to practise the songs that go with each sound:
Praise and praise again! Children will be more engaged with encouragement and praise and will learn much faster.
There’s a handy parent and carer guide here too, to give you more information about Phonics Shed: