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St Laurence Church of England Primary School

Learning with love and laughter

A member of the Derby Diocesan Academy Trust

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Phonics at St Laurence

The Phonics Lead at St Laurence Co E Primary is Mr Ball.


We are very proud of our teaching and learning of phonics at St Laurence CofE Primary School. The school actively supports the theory that teaching early phonics is crucial for providing a bank of knowledge that children will use in their reading and writing. To ensure this, high quality synthetic, systematic phonics sessions are taught daily from the very first weeks of the children starting in Reception and all the way through to the end Key Stage 1. In Key Stage 2 sessions are taught and tailored to the needs of individual children.


What is Phonics?

Phonics is the nationwide method of teaching children how to read and write from an early age. Your child will be taught how sounds are represented by written letters. For example, they will be taught that the letter ‘m’ represents an 'mmm' sound. It also helps them to understand how sounds can be blended together to make words. For example, they will be taught that the sounds of the letters ‘d-o-g’ blend together to make the word ‘dog’. Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing words.


Please see below the sounds that the children are taught and how they are pronounced correctly:


How Phonics is taught at St Laurence 

Letters and sounds is used as the bedrock of planning our phonics curriculum. This ensures that when our children start school at St Laurence, our teaching of Phonics is coherent and consistent from start to finish. In order to provide our pupils with the necessary tools from the very beginning of their education, we have hand-picked the very best ideas from a variety of schemes to ensure the perfect phonics curriculum is planned for our students.


In their first year at school, the children are taught the 42 letter sounds and how to blend them to read words. To support the children with this, Jolly Phonics actions are taught. One new sound is taught every day from the very first weeks of the children starting in Reception. We have adopted the use of Jolly Phonics actions as we believe by doing an action that is associated with a sound, the children remember it more easily. For Example:


When teaching the children the 's' sounds we would teach them to weave their hand 'like a slithering snake' in the shape of an 's'.When learning the 's' sounds we would teach the children to weave their hands in the shape of the letter 's' like a 'slithering snake'. We believe this multi-sensory method of learning is crucial for children of this age when helping them to remember the sound and the letter it is represented by.



In order for children to blend efficiently it is important for them to know the letter sounds fluently. In every phonics lesson flashcards of the sounds that have been taught are recapped on by the teacher. Flashcards are shown by the teacher for the children to shout out the sounds as they do the actions. The repetition of this each day enables the children to remember the sounds they have learned whilst also becoming increasingly fluent at identifying and pronouncing them correctly. 


At St Laurence, we recognise the difficulty some children face when remembering how to form their letters correctly. When teaching letter formation we use Read Write Inc. which we regard as an invaluable resource for supporting children when learning to write. The images and rhymes associated with each letter are not only effective, but also fun and engaging for the children when teaching letter sound correspondences. The Read Write Inc. cards are immersed into our learning environment to support the children when writing independently and during adult led activities. Letter formation sheets are also sent home to support the children with their writing when completing homework. The rhymes are also given to parents (please see resources below) to ensure consistency is ensured between what is being taught both at school and at home. 


Teaching 'Tricky Words'

Using letter sound correspondences is the most effective strategy for reading words, however, there are times when pupils will come upon ‘tricky words’ and will not be able to rely on this strategy. Tricky words are those words which cannot be decoded/sounded out easily. They are common words that have complex spellings in them. Examples of the tricky words that we teach in phases can be seen in the resources below. 


When teaching tricky words we endeavor to create sticky learning experiences for children to remember them by. For example: Miss Anderson will create a 'Tricky Word Hunt' for the children in her phonics group. The children are asked to find tricky word cards in the classroom, the playground and many other areas of the school. Once the excitement of finding their tricky word card has passed, the children must then tell Miss Anderson what the tricky word is on the card they have found. 


Tricky words are also implemented into our daily planning of phonics. As well as learning a new sound, a new tricky word is taught to the children. Together we examine the letters that make that tricky word, and then use this tricky word in a sentence we are writing together in phonics. To practice what they have learned, the children are then asked throughout the school day to identify the tricky word they are learning by their teacher and how it is spelt. 


See in the resources below the 'Tricky Word Songs' we sing with the children in Reception.


When is Phonics taught and how?

Phonics is taught at the beginning of everyday: Mon-Thurs (9.05-9.30) and after assembly (9.35-10.00) on Friday. The lessons we deliver are 25 minutes long and are planned to meet the needs of all of our students from phases 1-6. Within these sessions, we learn in both small and medium sized groups which enables everyone to access the expected sounds, tricky words and techniques for their age. Learning takes places through a variety of ways, including learning through games, active learning both inside and outdoors, and by working individually, in pairs or within small groups.


We ensure great emphasis is placed upon the teaching and learning of phonics at St Laurence, and that it is woven throughout our curriculum. We endeavour to make sure that the children are taught and encouraged to become independent thinkers, and thereby apply these skills to all aspects of their learning when their phonic knowledge is required to be used independently. To support the children with this, we have created a learning rich environment and embedded a bank of resources within our enhanced provision for the children in EYFS and KS1 to access at all times. 



The children are grouped according to their individual needs through continuous forms of formative and summative assessments. Each half term the Reception and Key Stage 1 team meet together with the phonics lead teacher to discuss the progress the children are making in their groups. In these meetings teachers discuss the progress the children are making and whether changes need to be made to ensure all pupils are receiving the correct level of challenge and are ultimately on track to meet end of year expectations. 


Resources to support pupils learning 

Below is a 'Pupil Phoneme Chart' which can be accessed by all pupils in Key Stage 1 and with every child in Reception possessing their very own chart in their personalised phoneme packs. The aim of the phoneme chart is to give pupils a comprehensive overview of all the sounds together that correspond to the phonics flashcards and tricky words that have been taught. These charts are a great resource for the children when completing work independently both at school and at home. 



Please see below a list of some of the resources including websites that we use in school to support the children with their learning:

Information for parents to support with learning phonics at home