Alderbrook Nursery & Primary School

Phonics at Alderbrook

At Alderbrook, we combine quality phonic instruction with exposure to a range of texts and the promotion of reading for pleasure to provide our pupils with the skills they need to have a successful start to their lives as readers. We have developed our own phonics scheme using existing schemes, such as Letters and Sounds, to ensure all aspects are covered. We consistently model phonics strategies in all aspects of the curriculum, outside of the phonics lesson to ensure that children are embedding their reading and writing skills in a range of contexts.

Our ambition for all children in our phonics scheme is:

  • Recognise, say and write all phonemes within each phase
  • Use their phonic knowledge to blend and segment phonetically decodable words
  • Use their phonic knowledge to enable them to read and write more complex words
  • Read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • Develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • Write clearly, accurately and coherently, using phonic knowledge
  • We develop culture of a love of reading in our children which is enabled through a secure knowledge of phonics

How we ensure we achieve our ambition:

  • Development of and timely review of a scheme of work
  • Ensure that our staff are equipped with the necessary professional development to deliver our curriculum with pace and passion
  • Planned opportunities within continuous provision in EYFS and Year 1 to consolidate and extend phonic knowledge and skills
  • Planned opportunities for home learning tasks to consolidate phonic knowledge and skills
  • Planned opportunities for parents to attend phonics, reading and writing workshops to support their children with the development of their child’s phonics skills
  • Daily engaging and active phonics lessons in EYFS and KS1  whereby children learn that the letters of the alphabet represent different sounds and that these can be used in a variety of ways and are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise all of the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing.
  • We begin our phonics teaching in Nursery and follow a very specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies
  • Small and focused group teaching to target children’s specific next steps
  • A rigorous assessment system that informs teaching
  • A cohesive and consistent approach to lesson structure: revisit, teach, practise, apply, assess
  • A phonics leader who monitors teaching and learning to maintain high standards and outcomes
  • Use of 100% decodable books so that children can directly apply their new knowledge and phonic skills at an appropriate level and ensure that children take home a book that matches their phonic ability

Order of Phoneme Introduction

Teaching of tricky, high frequency and common exception words 

  • High Frequency Words (HFW) are the words which occur most frequently in written material, for example, "and", "the", "as" and "it". They are often words that have little meaning on their own, but they do contribute a great deal to the meaning of a sentence.
  • Common exception words are common words containing unusual grapheme-phoneme correspondence such as “do”, “to” and “said”. Some common exception words are high frequency words, but not all high frequency words are common exception words
  • Some of the high frequency words can be sounded out using basic phonic rules, e.g. "it" is an easy word to read using phonics.
  • However, many of the high frequency words are not phonically regular and are therefore hard to read in the early stages. These words are sometimes called tricky or common exception words. These exception words are shown in yellow in the table below.

Some yellow words will become decodable in certain phases and these are demarcated with a *

At Alderbrook, all tricky or common exception words are called ‘yellow words’. These words should be learnt by sight.

High Frequency, Common Exception and 'Yellow Words' across the phases

At Alderbrook we have a set of 'environmental and meaningful print' guidelines for the EYFS and Year 1 specifically, however much of it applies to all year groups. Environmental print is the door to the very beginnings of reading for the youngest children in our school. As their ability to recognise the link between letters and the sounds they make develops, children require meaningful print in their learning environments, linked directly to their stage in learning in relation to reading and writing. Through ensuring high quality environmental and meaningful print, children at Alderbrook will make links in their phonic learning and ultimately understand the need for key reading and writing skills. In order for children to understand the environment around them and develop independent, they must be able to use their growing reading skills to access every aspect of their learning environments. Provision, therefore, must be carefully considered and highly focused and teaching staff must ensure that they regularly ‘put themselves in the children’s shoes’ when planning for provision.

There will be opportunities for reading and writing in support of routines – e.g. – daily registers, tally charts to record favourites, snack recording, re-filling of creative areas, tidy-up time

There will be opportunities for reading and writing for communication purposes – e.g. – writing letters, labelling construction models 

There will be opportunities for reading environmental print – e.g. – maths and literacy display linked to visuals that children recognise 

Labelling resource boxes with both pictures and words

Putting up signs around the environment – e.g – toilet, coat pegs etc

Children labelling displays themselves

Labelling in all areas of provision with appropriate signs/captions

Ensuring that books are part of provision and these can be homemade

A focus on name writing

Click here to read our most recent letter regarding changes to our reading book system

National Phonics Screening Check

In 2019, 94% of children achieved the expected standard.

In 2020, 100% of children achieved the expected standard.

In 2021, 100% of children achieved the expected standard.

In 2022, 90% of children achieved the expected standard