Reading and Phonics

At Overstone Combined School phonics is carefully planned and assessed using the recommended Dfe programme, ‘Letters and Sounds’. Every child’s progress is tracked and monitored to ensure learning is focused and correctly matched to their needs. Through short, sharp sessions the children have great fun learning effective strategies to help them read and spell words. At Overstone School the children are ‘streamed’ in phonics for ability from Reception and across Key Stage 1.

Initially the children focus on speaking and listening skills (beginning in the Nursery and continuing throughout the school), the children then move onto recognising individual sounds in the spoken word and the correct pronunciation of the sounds; which is key for successful phonics progression.

The children move onto corresponding the sound to the letter/s (grapheme), this is called GPC, (GPC - This is short for Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence. Knowing a GPC means being able to match a sound to the correct letters and vice versa.) and then orally blending the sounds to make a word. Eg. s-u-n. the children develop this skill in order to be able to blend written words.

Phonics sessions consist of lots of practical activities with visual clues to aid the children as they develop.

Once the children are skilled at orally blending sounds the children will develop their oral segmenting skills; this is the process of hearing a whole word and then splitting it up into the sounds (phonemes) that make it. Children need to develop this skill before they will be able to segment words to spell them.

The children will then begin blending, this involves looking at a written word, looking at each letter/s (grapheme) and using knowledge of letters and sounds (otherwise known as GPCs) to work out which sound (phoneme) each letter/s (grapheme) represents and then merging these sounds (phonemes) together to make a word. This is the basis of reading.

The children will then begin segmenting, this involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the sounds (phonemes) that make it, using knowledge of GPCs to work out which graphemes represent those phonemes and then writing those graphemes down in the right order. This is the basis of spelling.

Throughout Phonics Sessions at Overstone School the chidren will revisit and review the skills, sounds and letters that they have encountered using games, practical written activities.

Phonics is taught in Phases 1-6 at Overstone; Phase 1-4 focussing on speaking and listening, sounds, and correlation between sounds and letter/s (GPcs) blending and segmenting.

In Phase 5 (Year 1) we introduce the idea that some graphemes can be pronounced in more than one way. E.g. the ‘ch’ can be pronounced in each of these ways ‘check’, ‘chef’ and ‘school’. The latter stages of Phase 5 are about learning that some sounds (phonemes) have more than one spelling.

In Year 2 the children focus on Phase 6; Subject Knowledge, Phase 6 reinforces much of the learning from Phase 5, by helping children to develop greater automaticity in reading and begins to explore spelling rules and conventions e.g. adding - ing and –ed, prefixes and suffixes etc.

In Year 1 the children have to complete the statutory Year 1 phonics screening check. This is a short, light-touch assessment to confirm whether individual children have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard. It will identify the children who need extra help so they are given support by the school to improve their reading skills. They will then be able to retake the check so that we can track pupils until they are able to decode.

Parents are encouraged to support reading at home and children are expected to read daily. The school has a wide range of graded colour coded reading scheme books. Continuity is ensured by the colour progression and each child works at an individual pace. Each child has an individual reading record where reading is recorded and tracked and is a means of communicating development to the child, parent and teacher. Children are also encouraged to take books home from the library.