Nayna Sharma, EYFS Phase Leader/ALS Phonics Lead Teacher/Reception Class Teacher
Whitehall Primary School, Leicester
What elements of ALS Phonics: Letters and Sounds work well?
Training is very good as it involves face-to face training with Ann, live demonstrations of lessons, online videos, planning formats and resources are also available. Refresher training is also available. Lessons plans and resources are simple but very effective. Support is available for schools who have signed up for the progamme. The assessment is simple and effective.
How has your involvement in ALS Phonics: Letters and Sounds changed what happens in the classroom and your school in relation to the teaching and learning of phonics?
Prior to the ALS Phonics: Letters and Sounds programme, at our school phonics was taught in ability groups by teachers and teaching assistants. Space for teaching groups was limited. If one member of staff was absent, then it was difficult to teach as children were all at different stages. Therefore, the continuity and consistency was difficult to achieve. It was difficult for teachers to keep account of the other groups in their class. Children in the lower abilities were limited to their level.
Since joining the ALS Phonics: Letters and Sounds programme in 2013, the focus is on quality first teaching. The teacher is more aware of all the children’s abilities. Differentiation happens within the lesson. Expectations are higher. The lower ability children are more inspired to have a go and aim high.
ALS Phonics: Letters and Sounds is a whole school approach at Whitehall Primary School. ALL staff have received training from Ann or the ALS Phonics Lead Teacher and are aware of the expectations. Staff lessons are quality assured, previously by Ann and now by the ALS Phonics Lead Teacher, and this has raised their capabilities and confidence.
What impact has ALS Phonics: Letters and Sounds had on children’s phonics attainment?
The Phonics scores for Year 1 have continued to rise since we started the ALS Phonics: Letters and Sounds programme.
Since starting the programme in 2013, it had an immediate impact on raising the phonic scores, bringing the school in line with National standards. This has been sustained and improved year on year, taking us above National standard. Where there was a slight dip in 2018, we had a high proportion of SEND children in the cohort with additional high needs.
What other improvements has your involvement with KTC/ALS Phonics led to across the school?
The ALS Phonics: Letters and Sounds programme started in the Early Years and KS1. Due to the consistent approach and the impact of the programme, the strategies were also implemented into KS2.
The ALS Phonics: Letters and Sounds strategies and high expectations for language and communication have been implemented in all areas of learning in the EYFS and KS1. This has had a direct impact on the way the children learn and how expectations have risen. Handwriting is also taught within the phonics sessions and, once again, expectations are high. This has raised standards in handwriting.