At St. Stephen’s, we are very excited to now be using Rocket Phonics Programme to deliver our daily phonics lessons. Rocket Phonics is taught in classes Nursery – Year 3. Rocket Phonics is a complete phonics programme which helps all pupils to read fluently and at speed so they can focus on developing their skills in comprehension, vocabulary and spelling.
Rocket Phonics is a rigorous programme which ensures all pupils ‘keep up’ rather than ‘catch up’. The steady pace and progression deeply embed knowledge and skills from the start, ensuring all pupils are exposed to the full phonics teaching sequence at a pace suited to the individual. This programme develops essential literacy skills, as there is a balanced approach to blending for reading and segmenting for writing. Finally, the programme includes a range of captivating and engaging resources, which enlivens our phonics lessons. Our aim at St. Stephen’s is to ignite a love of reading and writing with this story-based programme.
The Teaching of Phonics
Daily Phonics lessons are taught to all pupils from Reception to Year 3 as a whole class session. Phonics lessons are between 20 and 30 minutes in duration, depending on the age of the cohort. If a child is deemed to be working at a lower level than their peers, an intervention will be created and delivered. This will be detected through regular and thorough assessment. However, we believe that these specific pupils, must and will, have access to the whole class quality-first teaching. Their intervention time will take place outside of the whole class phonics lesson.
Similarly, in Key Stage Two, if pupils are identified as working below expected level in reading and were one of the small percentage who did not meet expected requirement in the Phonics Screener Check, they will receive small group/1:1 phonics intervention.
In Nursery, Phonics lessons largely focused on the general sound discrimination (environmental, instrumental sounds and body percussion) as well as rhythm and rhyme, alliteration and voice sounds. A focus on language development is imperative in Nursery and because of this, as the pupils progress into the spring term, the Rocket Phonics approach will be introduced. The traditional Rocket Phonics teaching sequence is adapted slightly and matches a child’s speech sound development (/p/, /b/, /m/, /n/, /t/, /d/).
Each week, pupils will be introduced to one new letter sound. All phonics sessions and aspects of the child’s continuous provision will focus on this also. Pupils will also have a ‘mark making’ exercise book. Depending on the child’s ability and phonic knowledge, they will use this exercise book for a range of activities. For example: practising writing the letter shape (letter over writing), draw pictures beginning with the target sound or simply to begin their mark making journey. Resources from the Rocket Phonics programme i.e., frieze wall display, will be displayed in the classroom and teacher will refer to this when delivering phonics sessions. As previously stated, no formal teaching of phonics will take place until the child enters Reception the following year.
In Reception, pupils are formally introduced to phonics lesson. Pupils are introduced to the letter sounds and a mnemonic system to support letter-sound correspondence. The pupils develop their phonological awareness through listening carefully in a variety of contexts before beginning to learn initial sounds and then use this knowledge to blend sounds to read words. In addition to this, pupils will complete a pupil practice booklet, where the focus is on identifying the letter shape and letter formation. Pupils will focus on two graphemes per week. Common Exception Words are introduced weekly and will be uploaded onto tapestry for children to practise at home.