Monthly Archives: August 2021

***Where is the planning?

Occasionally teachers write to me to ask, ‘Where is the planning?‘ for the Phonics International programme and No Nonsense Phonics (Skills).

This has happened a number of times so rather than keep repeating the answer to individual teachers, I thought it would be a good idea to write a response via my blog for which I can then simply provide a link to this post.

So here goes…

1) CONTENT – for planning purposes: You see, the programmes’ actual content, and in what order to use the core resources provide the information for the plans.

As my phonics programmes are systematic, the aspect of planning which is ‘first you do this, followed by this‘ is all worked out for the teacher (tutor or parent/carer dependent on the user) in the bodies of work (the actual resources) of the programmes themselves.

The nature of my phonics programmes is that all the content is tangibly provided from code to word to sentence/text level for every child. Everyone can see and understand the content – the teacher, the teaching assistant, the intervention teacher, senior management, the children/learners, their parents and carers, Ofsted inspectors. It’s all there!

This core content is totally tangible – on paper – for every child/learner. For planning purposes, then, there is no doubt about ‘what’ is being taught and needs to be learnt – including the code introduced and the phonics sub-skills and skills practised with this content.

The programme (whichever one is used) IS the content of the plan!

That leaves pace, timing, organisation and delivery – and evaluation/reflection – to consider…

2) PACE/TIMING – for planning purposes: I do give a steer for this with my ‘two-session approach’. By this I mean that, generally speaking, to provide thorough practice (for modelling some teaching and for each child/learner to get plenty of the right kind of practice) cannot realistically be achieved in only ONE phonics session. This means it is likely to take at least TWO SESSIONS to complete a full ‘teaching and learning cycle’. These two sessions may well be over two days.

The teaching and learning cycle features a new, or focus, piece of the alphabetic code (the letter/s-sound correspondences). It takes one complete ‘teaching and learning cycle’ to introduce the featured code, to model it simply at word level (sound to print for spelling purposes, print to sound for reading purposes) and to provide ample practice for every child (with his or her own core, paper-based resources) at code, word, sentence/text level for reading, writing, spelling, vocabulary enrichment, language comprehension, and building up knowledge of spelling word banks over time.

That’s a lot of practice! This means that the ‘pace’ of covering the code in my phonics programmes may be slower than the pace recommended in some other phonics practices because I’m providing plenty of rich, FIT FOR PURPOSE content for teaching and learning purposes for every child to succeed, take ownership of the learning and be able to readily revise.

The pace and progress, however, is also dependent on how long the phonics sessions last, how efficient the teacher becomes at ‘getting on with the lesson’ and what stage the children have reached for working quickly through the content and routines. (But always allow for SUFFICIENT practice!)

In other words, how can an external person (the programme author for example) truly realistically specify the pace, timing and dates of delivery? The timing and dates for any planning is personal to the teacher, his or her class, the stage of the teaching and learning, perhaps the age of the learners, the point in the programme, identified additional needs and revision, and the additional building up knowledge of spelling word banks over time – and so on.

3) NO NONSENSE PHONICS (SKILLS) – the simplest suggestion for planning: I recommend keeping an additional Pupil Book (the same as the children are using) for the teacher’s planning record. There are nine systematic Pupil Books in the original No Nonsense Phonics Skills series – and we’ve now provided an optional Pupil Book 2+ for schools aiming to utilise their existing reading scheme home-reading books based on phases two and three of ‘Letters and Sounds’ (DfES, 2007).

Date each page according to when the children undertake the activities on that page. Then, either make notes direct on that page, as appropriate, for how the lesson went – any absentee children, note any children that need additional follow-up (and who will provide that, and whereabouts) and evaluate the lesson generally.

Alternatively, consider using post-it notes to stick onto the specific pages of the Pupil Book being used for the teacher’s plans to reflect on the lesson and any future needs for specific children and future provision.

Alternatively, note in a planning exercise book, the specific NNPS Pupil Book being used, and the date of any pages/activities undertaken, absentee children, intervention children – and so on.

The No Nonsense Phonics (Skills) body of work couldn’t be more streamlined and easy to use – it is a truly ‘pick-up-and-go’ systematic synthetic phonics programme!

It really couldn’t be easier. That is, the content of the systematic lessons plain for all to see, dates and lesson evaluations added by the teacher accordingly.

4) PHONICS INTERNATIONAL – simplest suggestions for planning: Again, this programme is based, generally-speaking, on a ‘two session approach’ for the phonics ‘teaching and learning cycle’.

The Phonics International programme, however, has an extensive body of work to cater for such a wide range of eventualities of ‘learner’ – age and needs. It is a massively flexible and content-rich body of work.

The ‘core and essential’ resources are provided in a ‘systematic’ order so that is straightforward (first you introduce this code, then this) – and the content for each lesson is plain to see as the core pupil resources should be provided on paper for the learners to use, own, share with home and keep.

The teacher needs to know and understand ‘which’ are the core and essential Phonics International resources. I describe what they are and how best to use them in this ‘How to…’ guidance document.

For planning, simply print off (or photocopy) an extra copy of the ‘core and essential’ resources selected for the children/learners concerned for the teacher’s own records and organisation.

Date the specific resources according to when they are undertaken. Again, as with the No Nonsense Phonics programme, note on the teacher’s planning copies any relevant arrangements, timing, evaluation, intervention requirements and ‘next steps’ as required.

Simple…!

NURSERY:

By the way, we cater for the children of nursery age – three to four year olds – with the ‘Teeny Reading Seeds‘ resources and the two books of the ‘Phonics and Talk Time‘ series.

Again, the resources themselves provide the content and the nursery staff can decide when and with whom to use the resources and note the dates and evaluate the provision accordingly.

See our Phonics International Preschool site here with masses of free resources!

***Lord Scudamore Academy is a school where the ORT Floppy’s Phonics SSP programme has been used successfully and enjoyably for a decade…

It’s truly heartwarming to build relationships with people working with one’s phonics resources and suggestions who love using them, where children love them and succeed with them, and the children’s parents and carers are appreciative – and everyone ‘says so’.

The Oxford Reading Tree Floppy’s Phonics programme (published by Oxford University Press) is not a new systematic synthetic phonics programme. It was created in 2010 by a small team at OUP working very closely with me, and it was validated as a full, systematic synthetic phonics programme by the Department for Education in the first window of the DfE validation process (from 2011 to 2014) for the governments’ match-funded phonics initiative at that time.

Lord Scudamore Academy was one of the first schools to adopt Floppy’s Phonics as their preferred programme – and periodically over the years, leaders at the school have kept in touch with me. They have very kindly provided me with their annual Year One Phonics Screening Check results, descriptions of their use of the resources and various testimonials to add to our site dedicated to the Floppy’s Phonics programme including the provision of resources and pre-recorded INSET training for best use of the programme.

The examples of independent writing that were sent to me of children at the end of Reception, who were non-writers at the beginning, are some of the best I have ever seen.

These are the annual Year One Phonics Screening Check results achieved at Lord Scudamore Academy since 2012: 79%, 93%, 87%, 86%, 94%, 94%, 92%, 96%

To put these results in England’s context, the national average results for the past four years or so prior to Covid (the subsequent school lockdowns have blurred the picture since 2019), had stalled at 82% of Year One children reaching or exceeding the 32 out of 40 words in the phonics check read correctly (or ‘plausibly’ in the case of the 20 pseudo words).

When Early Years Head of School, Corinne Benjamin, retired, this role was taken over by Sherry Morris-Davies. Sherry has continued to keep in touch with me, attended various events where I was speaking, and continued to be an advocate of the Floppy’s Phonics programme showing her great dedication and professionalism. I’ve been invited to Lord Scudamore Academy as a guest to see the school in action and to meet the staff and children, and I’ve listened to feedback with suggestions for further FP resources which I’ve shared with Oxford University Press (indeed, as I write this, further FP resources are coming shortly such as additional flash cards for level 5 and incremental, decodable reading books to match the original FP Sounds Books).

Recently, Sherry and other members of staff kindly sent me their current experiences with the Floppy’s Phonics programme:

From the time when we first started using Floppy’s Phonics in 2011, we have been thoroughly committed to the programme. We are a three form entry primary school and part of a federation of academies. Within this federation we were able to support some of these schools with the successful transition to using Floppy’s Phonics. These schools all began using Floppy’s with confidence knowing that we had had such successful outcomes, both in terms of children’s enthusiasm and outcomes but also the assurance that teachers gave to using and delivering Floppy’s Phonics.

The programme allows the children and us to be in the fortunate position to have consistently high levels of pass rates for the Year One Phonics Screening Check.

During 2019 we had some changes within our EYFS and KS1 teaching staff. We needed to support them in their subject knowledge to ensure the children were receiving high quality phonics teaching. We were able to access Debbie’s Floppy’s Phonics online INSET training and we all engaged in the online course. We thought it was extremely informative and a great way to train not only teachers new to Phonics but as a refresher to those of us that have been using it for eons!!

Sherry Morris-Davies
Head of School for Early Years

Lord Scudamore Academy
Friars Street
Hereford
HR4 0AS
Tel: 01432 273951

Herefordshire Marches Federation of Academies

Floppy’s Phonics provides the children with a fantastic foundation for their reading and writing journey. The scheme is comprehensive and provides teachers with a systematic approach to teaching early reading and writing.
Dan Walters
Reception Teacher

Floppy’s Phonics is a robust, fun and easy to use programme that promotes early reading and writing in an engaging way. I thoroughly enjoy teaching phonics in this exciting way and my class love it.
Rob James
NQT – Year 1

Both the children and I love using Floppy’s Phonics! Biff, Chip, Kipper and Floppy are just as much members of our class as are the children. The programme has allowed every child to enrich their vocabulary and comprehension. The resources are enjoyable, allow effective differentiation and are structured for clear use. Children have the confidence to apply their phonics and apply it within reading, comprehension, spelling and handwriting.
Amy Graham
Teacher Year 2

Having taught in all year groups from Year 2 to Year 6, I can really see the benefit of using Floppy’s Phonics. Not only does it support teaching and learning but it is also fun and interactive. The children love learning using familiar characters and refer back to the classroom frieze when trying to write, read or spell unfamiliar words. The resources are high quality, child friendly and the programme gets results.
Rebecca Wargen
Head of School – Key Stage 1

I have been using Floppy’s Phonics for 9 years and it is a phonics scheme that I would highly recommend to all schools. I like the way that it encourages a wider range of vocabulary and focuses on reading and writing at the same pace. I have found that children are enthusiastic about their phonics learning and like the routine it provides.
Kate Miller
Teacher – Reception

Since introducing Floppy’s Phonics in 2011 we have found the programme to be highly effective and it’s child friendly approach allows the children to understand synthetic phonics in a clear, systematic and well-structured way. Each session is clearly planned and structured using the frieze and carefully addresses the key areas of blending, of segmenting, and allowing the children to apply these phonics skills throughout every session. The children will often choose this lesson as their favourite part of the day as its familiar approach allows the children to be exposed to new sounds in our complex language in a clear, child friendly approach.
Stephanie Tortoriello
Year 1 teacher

Thank you – and a big ‘well done’ – to all those involved with teaching and learning foundational literacy with the Floppy’s Phonics programme at Lord Scudamore Academy.

A big thank you to Sherry who has undertaken the whole FP journey from the outset for the benefit of many!