All of our children have access to the teaching and learning of synthetic phonics daily. We are teaching phonics through a systematic synthetic programme called Rocket Phonics, which is a a DfE approved phonics programme aligned to Letters and Sounds by expert Abigail Steel. It approaches phonics differently to ensure every child keeps up and not catches up.
- Steady pace and progression of two letter-sounds per week (rather than the usual four) so that knowledge and skills are embedded from the start
Whole-class mastery style teaching to ensure no child is left behind
Teaching through original illustrated stories to develop phonics skills and a love of reading
Consistent daily practice of reading and writing to gradually build children’s confidence
Flexible yet structured teaching materials that can be adapted to suit the needs of every class.
We have been using the Rocket Phonics reading books in school for over a year and our pupils love the stories and colourful pictures in them.
Rocket phonics starts by teaching the basic alphabet sounds in a structured order and builds up to blending and reading full words and sentences. Phonics is embedded in continuous provision throughout EYFS through fun, engaging activities to inspire the children to use their phonic knowledge in independent writing and reading.
Additional phonics interventions run daily to close any gaps or misconceptions in the children’s phonic knowledge, these are regularly assessed and monitored to check their effectiveness against objectives. Children are regularly assessed to check their knowledge of each phase and to identify gaps in learning, these assessments are then used to inform planning and interventions.
Blending - The process of using phonics for reading. Children identify and blend the phonemes in order to hear and say a whole word. (Also know as decoding or synthesising.
Common Exception Word (CEW) - A high frequency word with an unusual letter-sound correspondence, e.g. one, their, because. These words are taught by decoding the familiar part and pointing out the unusual part.
CVC, CCVC, CCVCC - These represent the consonant and vowel sounds in word structurs. For example, a CVC word = h-e-n, b-oa-t or c-h-i-p.
Decoding - See blending.
Digraph - Two letters which together represent one sound (e.g. sh, ch, ai, ea, ou, ow). There are different types of digraphs - vowel, consonant and split.
Grapheme - A letter or group of letters representing one sound (phoneme).
Phoneme - The smallest unit of sound in a word.
Quadgraph - Four letters which together represent one sound, e.g. eigh, ough.
Schwa - An unstressed syllable. It is common for people to pronounce various graphemes as an /uh/ sound in natural speech.
Segmenting - The process of using phonics for spelling and writing. Children listen to the whole word and break it down into constituent phonemes, choosing the corresponding grapheme to represent each phoneme. For example, 'lunch' can be segmented as l-u-n-ch.
Split Digraph - Two letters, which work as a pair to represent one sound, but are separated within the word, e.g. a-e in cake; o-e in note.
Trigraph - Three letters which together represent one sound (e.g. igh, ear, air, ure).
Vowel Digraph - A digraph in which at least one of the letters is a vowel, e.g. ee, oi, or.
How you can help at home
- Reading every night at home with your child. Your child will have a phonics decodable book at their reading level. Read these with your child and ask them questions about the story.
- Practise reading and writing CEWs. If children know these they are more likely to gain speed and fluency in their reading.
- Practise handwriting and letter formation. It is important that children are forming their letters the correct way round (see links below).
- Play phonics games. See links below.