The National Curriculum, published by the Department for Education in 2013, requires schools to teach reading using systematic phonics and the implementation of the Phonics Screening Check ensures that all children are on track. All schools now use systematic phonics to teach reading daily. The programme of phonics that we have chosen for Ryton Federation is Sounds Write. Sounds Write is a highly structured, synthetic approach to phonics and is acknowledged by the DfE as meeting all of its criteria for an effective phonics teaching programme. Although we start teaching phonics in Nursery (listening to and producing sounds, orally blending and segmenting), the Sounds Write programme begins properly in Reception and is then implemented consistently in all Key Stage 1 year groups, continuing into Key Stage 2.
Skilled word reading involves speedy decoding and automatic recognition of words. From the first week of Reception, children will start to learn letter-sound correspondences. Children are taught how to break up words, or decode them, into individual sounds, and then blend all the way through the word to read. At the start of the programme, simple, one sound/one spelling, one-syllable, CVC words only are introduced. As the programme progresses, the complexity of one-syllable words is increased to four-, five- and six-sound words. Then digraphs (sh, ch, th), trigraphs (igh) and four letter sounds (ough) are introduced. The children are taught that all words are made up of sounds (phonemes) and that these sounds are spelled (or represented) with letters (graphemes). As the Sounds Write programme continues into Key Stage, children learn that the same sound can be spelled in more than one way (eg the ‘ay’ sound in rain, day, break, name) and that a spelling can represent more than one sound (eg the ‘ea’ spelling as in great, head, beak).