Spelling and Phonics
Which phonics programme is used at St. Lawrence?
The teaching staff at Barton St Lawrence plan their own lessons and activities based on the needs of the children in their class. We plan using the phases and progression from Letters and Sounds and our home reading books are matched to these phonic phases to the end of phase 5.
Letters and Sounds is a phonics resource published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007. Following the announcement of a validation criteria for phonics programmes by the government, we are reviewing our approach to phonics teaching to ensure it is still comprehensive and challenging for the children. For further information or to access free resources and games to help your child at home, visit www.letters-and-sounds.com
Each week, children in phonic phases 2-5 concentrate on a set of particular sounds (phonemes) or written spelling patterns (graphemes). Your child is encouraged to use these technical terms to talk about their learning in phonics and spelling. Tricky words are also taught each week. These are words that do not follow a pattern and are learned discreetly.
When it comes to spelling tests, the children in phonics phases 2-5 are NOT given a list of words to learn, other than the tricky words that do not follow a spelling rule. Children will be taught the spelling rule and how to apply it during the daily 20 minute lessons. At home, parents can help their child to generate lists of words that follow the rule (eg. spelling rule 'ea'; generated words could be : heap, cheap, flea etc). Spelling lessons take place Monday to Thursday and test days are Fridays.
Why don't we send out lists for all phases as is traditional when learning spellings?
Research has shown that children fall into three groups when learning spelling lists:
1) Children who learn their spellings each week, get them right but do not apply them independently in their writing because the spellings have only been retained in their short-term memory.
2) Children who try hard to learn the list but rarely get the spellings right because they have poor memory skills and have no other strategy to fall back on if they have not been taught the spelling rule (ie. they cannot 'work it out').
3) Children who are brilliant spellers; they don't need to learn the words anyway and consistently get full marks in their spelling test. These children have usually worked out the rules for themselves!
At St. Lawrence's, we have found that the children's spelling has improved tremendously over the last few years as a result of teaching spelling in this way. By the time our children reach the upper juniors, they are confident spellers who are able to work out how to spell unfamiliar words for themselves. This has had a significant impact on the standards of reading and writing. Occasionally, children struggle to spell even with this structured approach. These children may often also struggle with reading, writing and sometimes speech. In these cases, additional support is given in class through a targeted, interactive approach and possibly also further small group or 1:1 work.
Most children will begin the Letters and Sounds spelling programme at Phase 2 in EYFS with Phase 1 being covered within the nursery setting.
This phase begins with children being introduced to individual letters and their sounds; sets of letters are taught each week in the sequence advised by the Letters and Sounds programme. As soon as each set of letters is introduced, children are encouraged to use their knowledge of the letter sounds to blend and sound out words (eg. s-a-t ). They will also learn to segment the words (eg. upon hearing the word tap, the child can work out which letter sounds make up the word). Children focus on CVC words (consonant - vowel - consonant).
Over the course of phase 3, 25 new graphemes (letter patterns) are introduced. Children also learn the letter names and will continue to decode words using sounds. Children are also introduced to tricky words - words that are common that do not follow a spelling pattern.
In this phase, children concentrate on adjacent clusters of letters using consonants (eg. pl-, st- or -ng, -nt). We refer to the consonant as C and the vowel as V and children look to combine these in both the reading and spelling of such words. Words like tramp show a CCVCC spelling pattern; snow shows a CCVC pattern and bent uses a CVCC pattern. Compound words are also introduced in this phase; these are two single words when put together make a new word eg. snowball, desktop.
Phase 5 covers a lot of learning and shows the children alternative ways to spell the sounds they have previously learned. For example, children have been taught to spell the ay sound previously, but in this phase, will learn that the same sound can be spelt in many ways (ai, a_e we refer to this is a split digraph, a, ay etc.) When children are secure with these patterns, they will learn other alternative spellings such as -/dge/ making a j sound.
Fast Track Phonics group
Fast Track Phonics follows a programme that has been devised by the Lancashire Literacy Team. This group is aimed at closing the gap with regards to reading and spelling. Most pupils who follow the daily phonics process will reach the expected level of understanding by the end of KS1. However, for those pupils who require further practise, in order to acquire these skills, a phonics catch up programme may be required. The Fast track programme is designed to address gaps in learning. The activities are short, snappy and fun with an emphasis on quickly reviewing previous sound patterns from all the other phases.
Bounce Back Phonics group
As a result of the recent Covid lockdowns and periods of remote learning, we have found a number of children have struggled to fully grasp the phonetic way of spelling and reading words. We have, therefore, begun a new "Bounce Back Phonics group" for these children, to support them to catch up with their peers in this area. The structured programme takes the children through the whole phonics sequence in short and intensive sessions.
Spelling and Grammar across KS2
All children from Years 2 to 6 will continue to focus upon their spelling and grammar learning at Barton St Lawrence. Fifteen minute 'warm-up' sessions will take place daily in each respective class. The children will take part in either a dedicated grammar or spelling session prior to their Literacy lesson. Sessions will be fast-paced, active and fun with each year group continuing to follow the 2014 curriculum. From Year 2 to Year 6, we use the spelling scheme 'No Nonsense Spelling'.
Children will learn grammatical rules, but more importantly, they will learn how to apply these rules within their everyday written work. In spelling, they will take upon an investigative approach ensuring that spelling is related ,once again, to their own writing.