The Phonics Curriculum at St Thomas
At St Thomas’ we value reading as a key life skill and are dedicated to enabling our pupils to become lifelong readers. We believe reading is key for academic success. Pupils at St Thomas’ are taught the skills to decode words in order to be able to read fluently with understanding of what they have read. To equip our children with this fundamental skill, we adopt a SSP - Systematic, Synthetic Phonics approach to the teaching of reading and writing. Inspired and highly trained teachers follow the Letters and Sounds programme of study to support the teaching of phonics.
How is Phonics taught at St Thomas?
- Structure of lesson: Pupils in Reception and KS1 have daily phonics sessions. Within daily phonics sessions, children have the opportunity to revisit previous learning, practice and apply new skills in practical and engaging ways.
- Use of resources – The phonics lead and class teachers are to ensure that they have all of the required resources to teach lessons. This may include: early reading materials, flashcards and other interactive resources. Teachers to discuss with phonics lead if any extra resources are required.
- Reading books – It is the class teachers’ responsibility to ensure that home reading books provided for each pupil match the individual child’s phonic ability. All children read with their class teacher at least once per fortnight when reading ability is assessed and monitored.
- Home reading – Pupils are encouraged to read every night at home and this expectation is shared with all parents at the outset of the child’s school journey. We expect children in Reception and KS1 (and any child not yet deemed to be an independent, fluent reader) to read at home with a family member and for that family member to record the experience in home reading journals daily.
- Parental Involvement and Training – Reception parents are advised to attend a reading meeting with the Reception teacher and Reading Lead during the first half of the autumn term. Vital information, such as our whole school SSP approach, strategies to support and assist learning and development at home and reading and writing techniques are all shared with parents. This meeting ensures that the home and school approach to the teaching and learning of phonics are synchronised which in turn helps to ensure maximum progression for all of our pupils.
- Common Exception Words - Pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 are taught the high frequency words and common exception words during daily phonics sessions in accordance with the Letters and Sounds programme. In addition to this, pupils are also required to practice spellings at home and are tested weekly.
- Assessment – Assessment of Phonics should continuously be used to inform teaching. Daily Phonics sessions always begin with a revisit session when pupils are informally assessed on those grapheme phoneme correspondences (GPCs) already covered. Pupils are formally assessed at the end of each phase of phonics and attainment in phonics is measured by the Phonics Screening Test (administered during Year 1).
- Phonics Working Walls – Phonics Walls are to be updated frequently to show the whole class teaching and learning that is taking place. Working walls should be referred to and pupils should use them to aid learning and support application of phonics.
- Writing –Pupils are given the opportunity to apply their phonic knowledge during daily phonics sessions as well as daily adult directed and child-initiated activities (Reception). Pupils in KS1 are consistently required to apply their phonics when writing during daily phonics sessions and across the wider curriculum.
- Planning – It is the class teachers’ responsibility to plan daily phonics sessions according to the needs of the pupils within the class. Phonics planning is closely monitored by the phonics lead and annotated by the class teacher to inform planning and assessment.
- Ks2 – Whilst there are no longer ‘stand alone’ phonics sessions in KS2, our pupils continue to be taught ‘phonics’ during English lessons, guided reading sessions and throughout the wider curriculum. We ensure that all teachers in KS2 are trained and confident to support the teaching of phonics.
What do we expect to achieve through our phonics curriculum?
Regardless of background, ability or SEN, by the time pupils leave St Thomas’, they will be enthusiastic and motivated readers who are confident in reading a wide variety of genres. Pupils will have the skills to decode words in order to be able to read fluently with a secure understanding of what they have read. Our pupils will have the confidence and competence to write fluently and coherently; they will have a desire and drive to share their thoughts and ideas eloquently through their writing. We aim for all of our pupils to be inspired by literature and to read and write for pleasure.