Phonics is the primary way we begin to teach children how to read. It helps them 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. Once the children are doing this with automaticity, they will be able to read fluently and can therefore concentrate on reading for meaning. It is our aim that our children reach this stage as quickly as possible, completing the phonics programme by the end of year 1. That said, they will still be encouraged and supported to use phonics as a means of decoding and spelling unfamiliar words all the way up to year 6.
At Oakridge, we follow the scheme: Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised. For more information about this scheme and how we teach phonics at our school, please access the links below.
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 (see the link below).
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.
For key spelling lists please use the links below.
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 below.