Synthetic Phonics is a system designed to break down the English language into decodable letters and sounds. At St Veronica's we follow the order of the Government's Letters and Sounds scheme of work. The letters and groups of letters are defined as phonemes when they are heard, and graphemes when they are written down.
Phase 1 is delivered in pre-school settings, and this teaches sound recognition rather than reading and writing skills.
In Reception, therefore, children begin on Phase 2 which teaches the following sounds: Set 1: s, a, t, p, Set 2: i, n, m, d; Set 3: g, o, c, k: Set 4; ck, e, u, r.; Set 5: h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss. This takes approximately 6 weeks and will be revisited until children are secure.
Phase 3, which is longer, covers the following sounds: j, v, w, x y, z, zz, qu,ch, sh, th, ng, ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er. The children also begin to read simple compound words.
Phase 4 is a recap - revising these sounds and developing further compound ( 2 or more syllable) words. This is first taught in Reception and revisited at the start of Year 1.
Phase 5, which is taught throughout Year 1, covers the following sounds: ay (day) ou (out) ie (tie) ea (east) oy (boy) ir (girl) ue (blue) aw (saw) wh (when) ph (photo) ew (new) oe (toe) au (Paul) Split digraphs a-e (make) e-e (these) i-e (like) o-e (home) u-e (rule). In addition children are taught new pronunciations for known graphemes: i (fin, find), o (hot, cold), c (cat, cent), g (got, giant), ow (cow, blow), ie (tie, field), ea (eat, bread), er (farmer, her), a (hat, what), y (yes, by, very), ch (chin, school, chef), ou (out, shoulder, could, you)
At St Veronica's reading is split between home readers and guided reading texts.
Guided Reading takes place class and is led by the teaching staff. Books are selected to challenge your child at what is termed an instructional level. This means that the groups will encounter unfamiliar vocabulary, be challenged through questioning to make inferences and deductions about characters, their motives, the settings and the way that an author provides information indirectly.
In Reception and Year 1 and the start of Year 2, we make use of a 100% phonic scheme (Phonic Bug) linked directly to the phonemes and graphemes being taught in class. these are revised at the start of a session with a book and new vocabulary in introduced using flashcards. Typically, this is then followed by a questioning session after which an independent task is set.
In Key Stage 2, Guided Reading sessions make use of books by children's authors, where possible, linked to the topic being covered for the term. Here, children typically complete a pre-read task, followed by a discussion session with a member of staff and then an independent task to deepen the children's understanding of a book.
St Veronica's has invested heavily in setting up an interesting and varied reading scheme to enthuse our children and develop a love of reading. Books which are sent home are designed to be accessible and enjoyable, and so your child should be able to confidently read almost all the words within a given text.
In Reception and Year 1 all books are designed to be phonically decodable, and the Book Bands are linked to the Phonic Phases being taught in class. By the end of Year 1 by which time all the phonemes and graphemes will have been taught new vocabulary is introduced some of which cannot be sounded out.
In Year 2, Year 3 and the start of Year 4, the bulk of our reading books are part of the Collins Big Cat family of books, and are book banded to meet your child's reading skills. In Year 4, most children will gradually move away from this scheme and become free readers selecting books from the class and school library. In Year 5 and Year 6, these books become the backbone of our home readers.