Phonics & Spelling

The teaching of phonics is the method of teaching children how to read and write. It encourages and supports children to hear, identify and use different sounds that help them to distingusih one word from another. It further allows for children to develop and refine their speaking and listening skills.

EYFS and KS1 teachers plan and teach daily systematic synthetic phonics lessons following the objectives from Supersonic Phonic Friends (a government validated scheme). These sessions are supplemented with daily Pathways to Spell lessons from the spring term in Y1 and the autumn term in Y2. These lessons are engaging and progressive through each of the phonics phases. Phase 2 and 3 are taught in EYFS, phase 4 and 5 in Y1 and Phase 1 is taught alongside all phases. Each lesson follows a 4 part structure: revisit, teach, practise and apply. Planning builds on prior knowledge and experience to ensure progression. Teachers track and evaluate pupils’ progress regularly and use this information to inform future learning.

In Year 1, children revisit phase three and move through a progression of lessons until they reach the end of phase five, occassionally starting phase 6 in the summer 2nd half term. Teachers match activities to the needs of all children in the class. Phonics is also a focus for guided reading sessions in KS1 to consolidate their learning and apply what they have been taught. Children's reading books are matched to the phonics phase that they are currently learning. Most children read these books with around 95% fluency to consolidate their learning and ensure they 'keep up' with the phonics progression of the scheme.

Further information about Supersonic Phonic Friends can be found here:

Understanding key vocabulary related to phonics:

blending- Blending is the skill of joining sounds together to read words Children are taught to say the separate sounds in a word and to then blend them together to decode the word.

digraph- A digraph is a sound that is represented by two letters e.g. the sound 'a' in rain is represented by the digraph 'ai'.

trigraph- 3 letter shapes that make one sound/phoneme e.g. igh, ear, air, ure.

grapheme- A grapheme is a visual representation of a sound e.g. a letter or a group of letters. Some sounds are represented by a single letter whilst others are represented by more than one letter.

phoneme- A phoneme is a unit of sound e.g. the word 'cat' contains three phonemes, c-a-t

segmenting- Segmenting is the opposite of blending. Children are taught to segment a word into its separate sounds in order to spell it.

split digraph- A split digraph is a digraph that is separated by other letters e.g. the sound 'a' in the word take is represented by the split digraph a-e.

consonant blend/cluster- when two phonemes join together and can be blended together (phase 4) such as spl-at or bl-end.

pseudo word- A made up 'alien' word that incorportates the phonics sounds they have also been taught.

tricky word- a word that ( at the time) is not decodable.

We utilise a range of different reading schemes including: Bug Club, Rigby Star, Treetops, Project X and Big Cat for children's weekly reading books.


Pathways to Spell

Pathways to Spell is an innovative and engaging programme to fascinate pupils about words. It is a research-based series of lessons following a Review, Explain, Practise, Apply and Reflect model. The programme aims to develop a school of spellers who use a series of strategies in lessons and, crucially, in their independent writing. There is a cycle of review objectives covering the whole curriculum to ensure gaps in learning are constantly revisited allowing to ensure pupils can ‘keep up’ and not ‘catch up’. Pathways to spell includes inclusive lessons for all pupils, supports teacher subject knowledge and is fully resourced. It ensures weekly teaching of spelling objectives and development of a whole school approach to word transcription, vocabulary development and proofreading

Key elements of Pathways to Spell:

  • Covers the whole national curriculum.

  • Pedagogically sound and evidence-based.

  • Multi-sensory approach.

  • Fully resourced to support within lessons and beyond.

  • Builds phonemic, orthographic, morphological and etymological knowledge.

  • Builds teacher and pupil confidence

  • Develops a range of independent spelling strategies to apply beyond spelling lessons.

  • Fully resourced to support within the lesson and beyond.

  • Develops a school of spellers.

In Pathways to Spell, pupils will develop key knowledge about words and the way in which the English language is made up.

  • Phonemic knowledge – the understanding of sounds and grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) to represent words

  • Orthographic knowledge – the letters or groups of letters that are used to represent words including the look of a word, letter shapes and the order

  • Morphological knowledge – the meaning of the word or the meaning of each component in a word. A morpheme being the smallest unit of meaning in a word

  • Etymological awareness – the origins of words and their meanings e.g. knowledge that chef is a word which is French in origin helps you to learn to spell it with ch rather than sh

As a result of this programme, children are excited and fascinated by words through investigation of patterns and links between words. Each lesson is underpinned with spoken language and collaborative learning is always valued and encouraged. Every child is able to access each lesson due to its multi-sensory approaches and the presence of support and challenge.

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