Phonics is the primary way we begin to teach children how to read. It helps children to recognise the different sounds that letters or combinations of letters can make. When children become familiar with these sounds and their corresponding letters, they can begin to blend sounds together to read words.
Phonics teaching begins at ‘Phase 1’ where children learn about rhyming and the sounds of the environment. At ‘Phase 2’ they learn the first few phonic sounds such as ‘s’ ‘a’ ‘t’ ‘p’ ‘i’ and ‘n’ which, once they’ve mastered them, can be used to read basic words. Phonics finishes at ‘Phase 6’ which comprises mostly of learning how to spell more complex words using phonetic knowledge. Throughout the phases, the sounds get increasingly harder as children learn to identify sounds made up of two or even three letters such as ‘oa’ and ‘igh’ as in ‘boat’ and ‘high’. Phonics teaching runs alongside reading sessions where the children use their phonic knowledge to read a shared text and answer questions that utilise the reading strategies listed above.
Phonics teaching begins in year R and continues throughout KS1. Children are also supported with phonics in year 3 and year 4 if necessary, due to the fact children progress through the phases at varying rates.
Please find more useful information and insight into the teaching of phonics at this website:
Spelling and handwriting
At Oakridge, teachers set high expectations for the children across the curriculum and this includes the expectation that the children make a conscious effort with their spelling, handwriting and are vigilant about their presentation. This is especially important as the children cannot achieve beyond the expected standard at the end of the key stage if their spelling and handwriting is not accurate or fluent.
The children in year 2 to 6 have daily spelling sessions which follow the ‘No-Nonsense Spelling’ programme. (In year R and year 1, spelling is taught through phonics.) It supports children with recognising spelling rules and patterns through a variety of interactive activities. It also equips children with a range of strategies for spelling unfamiliar words. In addition to this, the programme incorporates learning the words from the statutory word lists for years 3 and 4, and years 5 and 6 (which can be found here).
Our spelling ethos:
Although we emphasise the importance of spelling to the children and urge them to try hard to use correct spellings (particularly of the words they know or of words that are displayed within the classroom), we don’t want this to interrupt or distract from the writing process. We also don’t want children to avoid using a word simply because they don’t know how to spell it. We therefore encourage the children to ‘dot it, don’t dodge it’, whereby they place a dot over a word they are uncertain of and revisit it during the editing process. Similarly, children are expected to correct spellings that the teacher has picked up during marking. These misspellings then form a bank of words for children to focus on during spelling sessions and are recorded on their own set of flash cards.
The children have regular handwriting sessions to help them learn the correct letter formation. In year R and KS1, when children are still learning this skill, the sessions are daily. As their handwriting becomes consistent in its formation and fluidity throughout KS2, the sessions become less frequent. Equally, if individual children continue to find handwriting a challenge, extra sessions are put in place to support them with this. In KS2 children are motivated to achieve consistent and fluid handwriting to ‘earn their pen’ in year 4 or 5.
The handwriting progression we follow at Oakridge can be found here.