At Slimbridge we use Animaphonics, a DfE-approved, synthetic phonics and spelling programme which is designed to enable all children to develop effective reading and writing skills.
During their time at Little Otters, our youngest children are introduced to Phase 1 of our phonics program, aligning with the Department for Education’s (DfE) guidance on early phonics teaching.
The DfE emphasises the importance of developing phonological awareness in early years education, stating that “high-quality phonic work should be taught discretely, with opportunities provided for children to apply their phonic knowledge in reading and writing activities across the curriculum.” Through engaging activities and resources, we lay the foundation for phonics development, nurturing children’s ability to recognise and manipulate sounds in spoken language.
As our children start Reception, they begin Phase 2 of our phonics program, following the recommended approach outlined by the DfE. The interactive AnimaPhonics materials used in our teaching have been carefully selected to provide a multi-sensory and engaging learning experience. The DfE’s guidance highlights the importance of using high-quality phonics resources, stating that they should “engage and challenge pupils, while embedding opportunities to apply their phonic knowledge and skills.” By immersing our students in AnimaPhonics, we ensure they develop a solid understanding of letter-sound correspondences and are well-equipped to decode and blend words.
Throughout Key Stage 1, our students progress through a systematic synthetic phonics program, in line with the DfE’s recommended approach. The DfE emphasises the effectiveness of synthetic phonics in teaching children to read and write, stating that “a synthetic approach focuses on teaching the common sounds represented by letter or letter groups and how to blend them together to read or write new words.” Our carefully sequenced program enables our students to build their phonics knowledge and skills progressively, equipping them to read and write a wide range of words and phonemes.
We prioritise the individual needs of our students, ensuring they receive appropriate support and challenge. The DfE’s guidance emphasises the importance of careful groupings to ensure every child can reach their potential, stating that “it is important to match the complexity of the phonics content to the knowledge and skills of the pupils.” Through regular assessments, we evaluate our students’ progress and adjust groupings accordingly, providing targeted instruction to support their ongoing development.
At Little Otters, our dedication to phonics instruction extends beyond Key Stage 1. Once a child is secure with Phase 5 of our program, they transition to our spelling program, aligning with the DfE’s guidance on the importance of teaching spelling explicitly. Our Year 4 curriculum builds on the phonics and spelling skills acquired in earlier years, revising spelling patterns, introducing more complex words, and developing a greater focus on grammatical structures. This prepares our students for the Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar test they take in Year 6, ensuring they are well-prepared for future academic challenges.
We recognise that some children may require additional support in phonics and spelling. In line with the DfE’s guidance on intervention programs, our Teacher Assistants and SENCo provide targeted one-to-one or small group interventions to address individual needs, helping our students make progress and thrive in their phonics and spelling development.