Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 follow the synthetic phonics approach, using the ‘LCP’ programme. It is an approach to teaching phonics in which individual letters or letter sounds are blended to form groups of letters or sounds, and those groups are then blended to form complete words. This is a variation on 'Letters and Sounds'.
LCPis divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. There are no big leaps in learning. Children have time to practise and rapidly expand their ability to read and spell words. They are also taught to read and spell ‘tricky words’ – words with spellings that are unusual or that children have not yet been taught. These include the words ‘to’, ‘was’, ‘said’ and ‘the’ – you can’t really break the sounds down for such words so it’s better to just ‘recognise’ them.
Phase one will have begun in nursery. This phase paves the way for the systematic learning of phonics. During this phase especially, we plan activities that will help children to listen attentively to sounds around them, such as the sounds of their toys and to sounds in spoken language. We teach a wide range of nursery rhymes and songs and read good books to and with the children. This helps to increase the number of words they know – their vocabulary – and helps them talk confidently about books. The children learn to identify rhyme and alliteration.
A daily phonics session takes place in EYFS, Year 1/2 and Year 3, involving lots of speaking, listening and games. Children in EYFS also use ‘Jolly Phonics’ actions to go with the sounds. The emphasis is on children’s active participation and the children focus on the phase that is suited their individual needs. They are encouraged and taught how to use their phonic knowledge for reading and writing activities and in their independent play.
We have found that certain activities and methods in certain schemes work better than others. From this, our approach is based upon the central 'spine' of LCP with additions that we feel work best.
We use a combination of reading schemes. These include Oxford Reading Tree and Ginn. These give a variety of fiction and non–fiction books to develop children’s reading range. Children learn to read at different rates. Once they finish the reading scheme, we encourage them to become ‘free readers’ and choose their own books. The children also visit the Eckington Library to develop a love of books.