Swing Gate Infant School and Nursery

Phonics at Swing Gate Infant School and Nursery


Phonics Teaching at Swing Gate
In 2018 we changed the way we approached Phonics in the FSU and KS1, to reflect the training our teachers and leaders have undertaken. The training was provided by Ann Smalberger, an independent teaching and learning consultant, who has been teaching children to read for more than twenty years and supporting teachers in developing their skills.

Ann’s approach is multi-sensory and caters for all learning styles (visual, auditory and kinaesthetic). Our English subject Leader coordinates the training and delivery of phonics within Swing Gate.

Phonics – whole class discrete daily phonics lessons starting at Phase 1 in the Nursery, Phase 2 and 3 in Reception and Phase 4 and 5 in Year 1. The sequence of phonemes taught loosely follows the Letters and Sounds publication. The lesson plan changes according to the Phase, however it follows the same structure – Review, Teach, Practice, Apply.

Phase 1 Phonics is taught throughout the Nursery year. It has 7 different aspects which all develop auditory skills. The aspects are as follows: Environmental Sounds; Instrumental Sounds; Body percussion; Rhythm and Rhyme; Alliteration; Voice sounds and Oral Blending and Segmenting. Each aspect is taught every day, either whole class or in groups, depending on the aspect being taught. Rhythm and Rhyme and Alliteration continue to be taught throughout the Primary years. Phase 1 continues to be taught and reviewed during the first half term of the Reception year.

Phase 2 Phonics begins when the children are secure with their oral blending and segmenting. During the daily whole class lessons the children are taught phoneme-grapheme correspondence. There are 18 phonemes and 23 graphemes taught in Phase 2. Four phonemes are taught every week, with a revision lesson on the fifth day. The children learn how to blend to read and segment to write words and sentences containing these phonemes. Emphasis is made on learning new vocabulary and reading is familiar and meaningful to the children. Reading and writing strategies (or mantras) are taught so that the children will apply the strategies in their independent work - (for reading - ‘look at the letters, make the sounds and blend the sounds together’ and for writing – ‘say the word, robot the word and write the word’).
These are also used during shared and guided reading and writing. Letter formation and handwriting practice is embedded into the lessons.

Phase 3 Phonics begins to introduce digraphs and trigraphs (25 phonemes).

Phase 4 Phonics introduces adjacent consonants.

Phase 5 Phonics introduces alternative spellings. These lessons revise the previously learnt graphemes and then introduce the new grapheme. Phase 5 usually finishes at the end of Year 1 and is revisited as part of the ‘No-Nonsense’ approach to spelling in Year 2. This is a spelling scheme that we follow in Year 2, which is continued at Thomas Coram.

Assessment – The children are assessed at the end of each term to determine if they are secure within a phonics phase. To be considered secure at each phase children need to be applying the phonemes they have learned in their reading and writing. Some children will receive extra daily intervention support outside of the phonics lessons.

Sight Words – Sight words, or high frequency words as they are also known, are taught outside of the phonics lessons.

Guided Reading – the children are grouped into ability groups of up to 6 children. The children each have a book and are encouraged to apply the skills they have learnt. After the children have read, they are asked questions about what they have read and to find evidence in the text. Inference questions are also asked. Speaking and listening is emphasised. Group assessments are kept for each session.

Shared Writing - whole class lessons to teach the strategies used for writing, using the mantras taught in the phonics lessons.

Guided Writing – the children are encouraged to apply the writing strategies taught during shared writing. Work is differentiated accordingly.

Please click here to see our 'Phonics and Spellings Guide for Parents' handout.

Below are a list of links to online activities and games which you may find useful playing at home:

CBeebies Alphablocks
Phonics Play
BBC Bitesize KS1 Phonics
Phoneme Pop


Swing Gate Lane, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire HP4 2LJ

01442 863913