Making a difference for our future

Phonics at Meadowside


Phonics at Meadowside

At Meadowside, we use Unlocking Letters and Sounds which was validated by the DfE in December 2021. We begin teaching phonics in the first few weeks of term 1 in Reception and children make rapid progress in their reading journey. Children begin to learn the main sounds heard in the English Language and how they can be represented, as well as learning ‘Common Exception’ words for Phases 2, 3 and 4. They use these sounds to read and write simple words, captions and sentences. Children leave Reception being able to apply the phonemes taught within Phase 2, 3 and 4.

In Year 1 through Phase 5a, b and c, they learn any alternative spellings and pronunciations for the graphemes and additional Common Exception Words. By the end of Year 1 children will have mastered using phonics to decode and blend when reading and segment when spelling. In Year 1 all children are screened using the national Phonics Screening Check.

In Year 2, phonics continues to be revisited to ensure mastery of the phonetic code and any child who does not meet age related expectations will continue to receive support to close identified gaps. For further details please see the Unlocking Letters and Sounds progression.

To ensure no child is left behind, children are regularly assessed and supported to keep up through bespoke 1-1 and small group interventions. These include GPC recognition and blending and segmenting interventions. The lowest attaining 20% of pupils are closely monitored to ensure these interventions have an impact.

Reading Scheme

At Meadowside Primary School, we promote a ‘phonics first’ approach and in both our guided reading sessions at school and in the books children take home, texts are very closely matched to a child’s current phonics knowledge so that every child can experience real success in their reading. In these crucial early stages of reading, we primarily use books from Ransom Reading Stars Phonics, to ensure complete fidelity to the Unlocking Letters and Sounds progression we follow. Once children progress beyond decodable texts, they move onto a wider variety of books from our book scheme so that they can continue to progress in their decoding, fluency and comprehension skills to become avid, expert readers.

To ensure that the children continue to feel success at school and at home, we change reading books once a week and expect that the children read their book at least three times within that week. The first time they read, they will focus on decoding the phonics and blending the words within the text. This takes a lot of concentration and may need to happen over several sessions. The next time a child reads the book, they may begin to recognise words and phrases and no longer need to sound them out- this is how we define developing fluency. Once the child can read the words fluently (without having to spend a long time sounding out and blending) then they can begin to think about the story or information the words are telling them- this is comprehension- understanding what they have read. When you can decode fluently and you understand what the text is telling you, then you can read the book for enjoyment; be that entertainment or information! This is how we aim to build avid, expert readers at Meadowside Primary School.