Phonics is taught across our school as appropriate using the Read, Write, Inc scheme. Staff will adapt and differentiate the scheme to meet the needs of our learners and ensure it is developmentally appropriate. Students at the very early stages of phonetic development will use these sessions alongside communication and will engage with objects of reference and sensory exploration rather than the more ‘traditional’ scheme of the programme. As students develop their phonetic awareness, they will access the scheme in line with their abilities and development needs. Staff will follow the teaching and learning requirements within the scheme, while an appreciation of our student’s needs may necessitate the scheme to be adaptable.
Read, Write, Inc is a government approved Systematic Synthetic Programme. We use a synthetic approach to teaching reading. This method ensures students first develop a correct understanding of the reading process before they begin to read simple phonic based texts matched to their level of reading knowledge. Therefore, we will offer texts for students to read independently after we ensure that they can:
This focus on synthesising words, by blending their individual sound components, is why the teaching approach is called synthetic phonics. To avoid children thinking reading relies on just guessing words or trying to memorise words by shapes, we ensure they master the basic letter and sound combination to build accuracy and confidence in their reading journey. Once corresponding sounds are understood, students read books that are carefully matched to the spellings of the sounds that have been taught. This means they build confidence quicker. They practice these stories until they can read them fluently.
Listening for sounds – it is important that children develop the ability to hear sounds before they can read. They will learn this through a process we call ‘Fred Talk’, this is a process where you only talk in sounds e.g c-a-t followed by the whole word ‘cat’.
Alongside these they also learn red words (sight or tricky words), which are difficult to blend but are words they need to read and access texts (e.g, the, said, your). Red words are matched according to the book level that is appropriate to student’s learning needs. Some words are ‘tricky’ because they contain letters that do not match the sounds the child has been taught. For example, ‘said’ has the ‘ai’ sound making an ‘e’ sound. We teach these common exception words as red words. These sounds can not be sounded out using ‘Fred Talk’.
Once children have developed their fine motor skills and are secure with pre-writing patterns, we begin to develop writing in terms of letter formations. We give children a hook to learn the sounds by using pictures in the same shape as the letter. Each sound has a rhyme to learn the correct formation. For example, ‘s’ is taught through the rhyme ‘slither down the snake’. This means that children learn to read and write the sounds more easily.