How to ensure fidelity to Time for Phonics
The DfE published 2021 Reading Framework is very clear on the need for 'fidelity' to a SSP, and stated,
"Synthetic phonic programmes have one thing in common: they teach children GPCs, to blend phonemes into spoken words and segment spoken words into phonemes. However, programmes use programme-specific systems and terminology such as actions, mnemonics, prompts, key words and routines to teach knowledge and skills. It is important not to confuse children by mixing material from different programmes or across different classrooms – hence the phrase ‘fidelity to the programme’. For example, one programme might use the term ‘split digraph’, while another might refer to ‘magic e’ for the same vowel GPC in a word such as ‘late’."
To help with this, we have put together a list of “non negotiables” that should come into play to help you ensure fidelity to Time for Phonics across your school.
At a glance:
- Each member of teaching staff must be fully trained and have watched the on-demand training videos and/or attended an INSET with one of our trainers.
- Letter and digraph rhymes to aid children’s ability to recall should be used as per the lesson plans, and displayed so the children can clearly see.
- The structure of the 4 part lesson, namely; revisit and review, teach, practise, apply, should be followed as per the lesson plans.
- The lessons should be paced well, and should make the most of the time for teaching to maximise the number of words children read and spell.
- The downloadable phonics materials that are provided as part of the programme, including flashcards, sound mats and display resources should be used during each lesson.
- Children should take part in written work whilst sitting at tables, not on the carpet, as per the guidance in the 2021 Reading Framework,
- During direct teaching, all children should have a clear view of the teacher, and should clearly be able to see any of the resources used.
- Children should all be actively involved, especially during the practice and apply sections, and the teacher should be constantly checking and encouraging all of the children to stay on task.
- The lowest 20% of children should be actively targeted and you may wish to have them seated as close to the teacher as possible.
- During call and response, all children should answer in unison, not as individuals.
- You should decide as a school whether phonics should be taught as a whole class or in groups.
- Provide praise and encouragement throughout, and model good listening and participation.
- Guided reading should take place daily, or as often as possible, for approximately 15 minutes, using GPCs and tricky words that children are confident with (so not GPCs they have only just learned).
- Phonics assessment should be regular to ensure that the lowest 20% of pupils are quickly identified and given additional support, either through our structured intervention programme and/or other techniques as detailed during the programme.
- When reading 1:1 with children, or during guided reading, adults should encourage children to decode and blend words using their decoding skills. Children should under no circumstances be encouraged to guess or infer words.
- If a child cannot decode the word, the adult can help by prompting them, perhaps by suggesting a similar sounding/rhyming word to help the children decode.
- The adult should also ask questions about the meaning of the book to check that children understand the story/concept. Suggested questions can be found in the guided reading reading comprehension resource within each week's lesson folder.
- Ideally, all children would be read with at least once a week 1:1 in addition to the guided reading sessions. Children who are in the lowest 20% ideally should be reading 3 times per week 1:1 with an adult in addition to guided reading reading sessions.
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