First Class Phonics
Welcome to First Class Phonics
First Class Phonics provides everything that teachers need to put the fun back into phonics! It promotes a multi-sensory approach to teaching and learning and provides opportunities for children to independently practice and apply their phonic knowledge to read and spell.
First Class Phonics is innovative because it provides everything that teachers need to deliver highly engaging, multisensory, interactive phonics teaching: ‘revisit, teach, practice and apply’ resources; planning, tracking and assessment materials… and a set of fun puppets!
First Class Phonics has a significant impact on work/life balance because our scheme does not rely on teachers downloading, printing, laminating, cutting, sticking, bagging and organising resources! Everything comes ready to use in the classroom! It has a proven impact on teaching and learning, supporting children to make clear progress across each term and to meet significant milestones such as the Reading ELG and the standard required by the Phonics Screening Check.
Watch this short introductory video to hear from teachers using the scheme and to watch children having fun with phonics.
What is First Class Phonics?
First Class Phonics is an innovative, new scheme that provides exactly what both Head Teachers and teachers want: a cost-effective, easy-to-follow programme proven to help children reach the ELGs (Reading/Writing), to increase attainment in reading and spelling in KS1 and improve results in the Year One Phonics Screening Check.
Teachers and Teaching Assistants can use First Class Phonics to teach whole classes and groups with sets of Teacher Cards and easy-to-use PowerPoints. Every day, children practise reading or spelling through fun, familiar games using sets of Pupil Cards. These provide a unique opportunity for children to work independently to consolidate new learning whilst also developing life skills like turn-taking. There are PowerPoints and Teacher Cards with a range of captions so that children immediately apply their learning into reading and writing sentences.
During Covid-19, First Class Phonics has been highly successful in supporting teachers to deliver online or recorded lessons using fun and exciting new resources which engage and motivate home learners.
Watch this video to see Debs Bragard, one of the founders of BC Education, talking through how First Class Phonics works.
How does First Class Phonics help your children meet age-related expectations?
First Class Phonics provides comprehensive and easy-to-follow weekly plans, giving teachers a simple but systematic structure for teaching phonics across the week. We slow down the pace of teaching but increase the pace of learning to ensure that children progress from simple to more complex phonic knowledge and skills. Teachers love the simplicity of the weekly structure and the easy-to-follow planning that provides a clearly defined, incremental sequence. Children love the familiarity of the daily routine as they know what is coming next within the lesson.
First Class Phonics is fit for purpose for learning in the 21st century: a scheme that will not only engage children in their own learning but will have a structured route for most children to meet or exceed the expectations for reading and writing in EYFS and KS1. It is ‘future-proofed’ because the progression is directly linked to the new requirements for the end of Reception and to the Phonics Screening Check.
Teaching records and tracking grids are provided to enable schools to set clear expectations, support communication, monitor progress and identify children who are falling behind. First Class Phonics builds in daily opportunities to revisit prior learning and assess children’s progress. Teachers can easily identify gaps in learning and plan focused next steps for teaching without having to do endless ‘tick-sheets’. First Class Phonics also has fully-resourced ‘Revisit’ weeks which enable teachers to conduct frequent and ongoing assessment to track and record children’s progress and to identify those children at, below or above expected levels. All First Class Phonics resources can be used to support children who are at risk of falling behind so that they can ‘catch-up and keep up’. They can also be used for intervention with Year 2, 3 and even Year 4 pupils.
Don’t take our word for it!
Watch this video to hear four teachers talking about how First Class Phonics has improved teaching and learning in their school:
How will First Class Phonics help you to teach children to decode?
First Class Phonics has an emphasis on children orally blending and segmenting. This eliminates the often-heard plaintive cry from EYFS and Year One teachers… “They know all the graphemes but they just can’t read the words”. If children don’t have daily opportunities to orally blend, they will not become confident at blending to read words.
For the first time since Letters and Sounds was produced in 2007, the order for introducing the first 10 graphemes has changed. First Class Phonics starts with ‘catsnip’ rather than ‘satpin’. By introducing just our first four graphemes (‘c’, ’a’, ’t’, ’s’), a child can immediately learn to read about familiar ‘concrete’ things (cat) rather than ‘abstract’ verbs (sat, pat).
First Class Phonics has a structured progression for teaching graphemes which slows down the pace of teaching but increases the pace of the learning. With First Class Phonics, there is time to teach and practise but there is also time to revisit and embed. In addition, there is a systematic progression for teaching word structures which matches up with the demands of all of the popular, recently published reading schemes. It also provides a systematic progression for teaching children to read an increasingly varied range of sentence structures, questions, exclamations and speech which again matches up with expectations in the most widely-used phonically decodable reading schemes. This enables teachers to effectively make the link between phonics sessions and guided reading. In turn, this enables children to successfully apply newly acquired phonic knowledge and decoding skills into reading phonically decodable books.
How will First Class Phonics help your children to practise reading?
First Class Phonics provides every child with the opportunity to practise reading a range of words in every session. Children are actively engaged in their own learning by taking part in a familiar range of ‘hands-on’ enjoyable, paired, group or individual games which teach not only phonics but also key learning skills: how to share, take turns, listen to each other and collaborate. We prioritise active learning so First Class Phonics provides Pupil Sets of word and picture cards so every child can participate in games played during the practice part of the lesson. No more lessons where a few children are involved and the rest just ‘look on’.
How will First Class Phonics help children to read common exception (or ‘tricky’) words, high frequency words, alien and ‘unicorn’ words?
First Class Phonics includes an emphasis on teaching children how to decode High Frequency Words using their phonic knowledge, with the help of a loveable puppet – Izzy the Busy Bee. It also teaches children how to read and then spell common exception ‘tricky’ words, using another loveable puppet – Trevor the T-Rex. Children love to learn with these ‘phonic friends’! There is a gradual introduction of these words in line with the most commonly-used, phonically decodable reading schemes.
First Class Phonics places a priority on developing children’s vocabulary using another cuddly puppet – Luna the Moon Unicorn. Luna introduces challenge through her ‘Unicorn’ words which give an opportunity to use phonics to decode uncommon words. She also helps children to be ready for the Phonics Screening Check as her Unicorn words are the type of real words that appear in the Check.
The scheme provides a structured progression of Alien words which allow children to apply all aspects of their learning – to decode words with newly taught graphemes and an increasing number of word structures.
How will First Class Phonics help your children learn to spell and write?
First Class Phonics provides a direct link between reading and writing through the weekly teaching sequence. This means that children always learn to read words before being asked to spell them! Teachers are able to teach new vocabulary using the engaging picture prompts. These same picture cards are used as prompts in the spelling or writing lesson. Children practise orally segmenting first before being expected to spell or write. There is an emphasis on modelling spelling using manipulative resources as well as teaching letter formation. This is taught right from the beginning but, because of ‘catsnip’ it now starts with the letter ‘c’ – which is one of the most useful letter formations – rather than ‘s’ which is one of the most complex! Teachers love it because it has proved to be a more successful start to handwriting.
Just like in the reading lessons, teachers are able to teach children to spell or write words and then to either complete sentences or write whole sentences, according to the ability of the child.
How will First Class Phonics help your children to practise spelling and writing?
First Class Phonics encourages Reception teachers to use ‘manipulative spelling’ resources for early spelling if children have not developed sufficiently refined gross and fine motor control for handwriting. Many children will not have the gross and fine motor control for handwriting but they will have the phonic skills and understanding required to spell words with magnetic letters or letter cards. All of our spelling games can be differentiated to allow all children to make progress in their spelling regardless of their physical development.
What do you actually get with First Class Phonics?
A comprehensive range of quality resources come ready-to-use so no more laminating!
We provide everything that practitioners need to teach effective phonics lessons – weekly planning, high-quality word/sentence and picture cards, PowerPoints, teaching records and tracking grids.
We provide the following for each Set (week):
- Easy-to-follow weekly planning – all ready for you to personalise for your children.
- A pack of Teacher Cards for a ‘hands-on’ approach for teaching reading and spelling – picture prompt cards and double-sided word cards (with or without sound buttons/bars). We include familiar words and also some less common words to develop children’s vocabulary. We also include Alien Words to give Year One children experience of decoding without the aid of picture prompts.
- A pack of Teacher Caption/Sentence Cards for teaching children to apply their new learning into reading and spelling sentences. We gradually build up exposure to a range of sentence structures and sentence types.
- A comprehensive range of Teaching PowerPoints for teaching reading and spelling. You will have everything you need to teach using an IWB. These cover the same learning as the Teacher Cards. In addition, these have an added benefit of pictures, words and sound buttons appearing at the touch of a mouse!
- A pack of Teacher Cards for Tricky Words (Trevor the T-Rex), High Frequency Words (Izzy the Busy Bee), Alien Words and Unicorn Words (Luna the Moon Unicorn).
- Group packs of Pupil Cards for practising reading and spelling phonically decodable words. These contain double-sided word cards and matching picture cards (8 of everything for individual or paired work).
- Group packs of Pupil Cards for practising reading and spelling Tricky Words and High Frequency Words (8 of everything for individual or paired work).
We also provide one of each of the three Phonic Friend puppets. Schools can order more! In addition, there is an Activity Booklet so that teachers can gradually introduce a small but easily organised range of games for both the teaching and practice parts of the session. These games focus on the learning of phonics but, at the same time, are engaging, multi-sensory, develop collaborative learning and a greater level of independence. Tracking and teaching records are also provided so schools can set expectations and monitor progress.
Training on how to use First Class Phonics is provided. Schools can book their teachers and teaching assistants onto a free webinar to introduce First Class Phonics as a whole school approach. The founders of First Class Phonics are DofE-approved phonics trainers and can provide a variety of training programmes to meet the needs of individual schools. Examples of on-going support include the following: regular meetings for Phonics and English Leads; email and ‘end of a phone’ support; network opportunities to talk to other schools; opportunities to see First Class Phonics in action at the First Class Phonic Host School.
If you want to know more about First Class Phonics, please get in touch ….