Synthetic Phonics and Jelly and Bean Systematic Phonics
There are 4 principles of synthetic phonics set out by its proponents at the Reading Reform Foundation and by the DfE.
1. Initially children are taught one grapheme for each of the 44 phonemes of the English language. They begin with the sounds corresponding to a few letters of the alphabet. They are taught how to blend these sounds together to say words. (Isolated phonics)
2. Children are NOT taught an initial sight vocabulary of words to start them on their journey of learning to read.
3. Children are NOT taught to recognise any words by the sight of the whole written word. They are taught to say out loud the sounds corresponding to the letters (graphemes) in written words. The sounds in irregular words are explained as variations of the ‘alphabetic code’. (Alternative spellings of sounds)
4. Only single cueing from sound is allowed for decoding. Multi-cueing from pictures or context (semantics) or sentence structure (syntax) is NOT allowed
The Jelly and Bean approach to teaching reading using systematic phonics is as follows.
1. Children begin with whole written words they understand and these words are analysed. It is essential that teachers ensure children know the meaning of the written words they see before they start to decode them.
2. Pictures are used to make sure children understand the words prior to learning the sounds within them. These sounds in words are abstract knowledge. Children have to learn how to abstract these from their speech stream.
3. High frequency words like ‘the, to, go’ are taught as whole words with specific spellings. Children are not given an explanation of ‘alphabetic code’ variations, e.g. We do not advocate telling children that the ‘o’ in ‘to’ is an alternative spelling of the /oo/ phoneme.
4. Multi-cueing from pictures, context and sentence structure is to be encouraged so that children use all their senses and knowledge to work out the word from the clues available to them.
These differences are crucial to conform with the criteria for synthetic phonics teaching published by the DfE. We failed to meet these criteria in 2011 when we submitted our self assessment forms.
In 2014 the new National Curriculum changed its description of phonics from synthetic phonics to systematic phonics. Our brand of phonics is systematic and fits with the National Curriculum.