What is Phonics?
Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully.
Children are taught how to recognise the sounds each individual letter makes and to identify the sounds that different contributions of letters make such as ‘sh’ and ‘oo’. Children are taught to read by breaking down words into separate sounds or ‘phonemes’. They are then taught how to blend these sounds together to read the whole word. At South Borough Primary School we teach phonics, following the Letters and Sounds programme. Children start with 15 minutes a day when they are in Reception, this is then built up to 20 minutes as the year progresses and in year 1 they have 30 minutes per day.
Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way, starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to more complex sounds, it is the most effective way of teaching children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5‐7. Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go onto read any kind of text fluently and confidently and for enjoyment.
What is the phonics screening check?
The National phonics screening check is a statutory assessment that was introduced in 2012 to all Year 1 pupils and is a quick and easy check of your child’s phonics knowledge.
Who is it for?
All year 1 pupils will take the phonics screening check in 2021 during the week beginning: 7th June.
What is in the phonics screening check?
It comprises of a list of 40 words and nonsense words. It will assess phonics skills and knowledge learnt through reception and year 1.
Your child will read one-to-one with their class teacher.
Your child will read up to 4 words per page and they will probably do the check in 10‐15 minutes. They will be asked to segment (sound out) a word and then blend the sounds together. The check is very similar to tasks the children already complete during phonics lessons.
Is it stressful to test such young children?
The assessment will be age appropriate and the adults involved will all be familiar. The children at South Borough Primary School are familiar with the set up as we are constantly reviewing children’s progress in the same way. It should be an enjoyable activity for children which takes no more than 15 minutes. There will be a few practise words at the beginning to make sure your child understands the activity.
What are Nonsense or Pseudo words and why are they included?
These are words that are phonetically decodable but not actual words with an associated meaning e.g. brip, snorb. These words are included in the check specifically to assess whether your child can decode a word using phonic skills and not their memory. The pseudo words will be shown to your child with a picture of an alien. The children will be asked what the aliens name is by reading the word. This will make the check a bit more fun and provides the children with a context for the nonsense word. Crucially, it does not provide any clues, so your child has to be able to decode it. Children generally find nonsense amusing so they will probably enjoy reading these words.
How will the results from the screening be used?
You will be informed of your child’s progress in phonics and find out how they have done in the screening check, towards the end of the summer term in the end of year report. All of the children are individuals and develop at different stages. The screening check ensures that teachers understand which children need support with decoding.
What happens if a child struggles with the screening check?
The screening check will identify children who have phonic decoding skills below the level expected for the end of year 1 and who therefore need help. Schools are expected to provide extra help and children will then be able to re‐take the assessment in year 2.
How can I help my child?
There are a number of things that parents can do to support early reading development:
Let your child see you enjoy reading yourself. They are influenced by you and what you do!
Immerse your child in a love of reading
Make time for your child to read their school book to you
With all books, encourage your child to ‘sound out’ unfamiliarwords and then blend from left to right rather than looking at pictures to guess
There are many phonic games for children to access on the computer.
We hope this information is useful. Remember, we are here to help your child achieve their very best.
If you have any questions please ask Mrs Hunt (Phonics leader), or your child’s class Teacher. We are all happy to help.
We had a phonics workshop for our Year 1 parents/carers. Thank you to those who attended: