Should we start teaching GPCs in Nursery?

In short - No

We have loved seeing how Foundations for Phonics is up and running in so many settings across the country and hearing from you about the impact it is having on your children’s understanding and enjoyment of sounds and books.

Such is the success of the Tuning into sounds activities that many of you are getting to the stage where Nursery children (and often their parents!) feel like they are ready to read. As a result, many of you are asking us ‘Should we start teaching GPCs in Nursery?’

Below we set out why our answer to this question is a clear ‘no’.

The absolute priority in the nursery years must be on communication and language. As the educationalist James Britton famously said ‘Reading and writing floats on a sea of talk.’ For children to succeed and truly be ‘school-ready’ we need to focus our efforts on increasing their language. This can only be done through high-quality interactions, reading stories and singing songs and rhymes.

Time spent away from doing these activities will mean fewer opportunities for especially our most vulnerable pupils to build the language skills that are the foundations of all their future learning. Ofsted is very clear on this; they will not be looking at phonics in Nursery. Rather, they want to see adults supporting language development.

On a more practical note, many children come to Reception from a huge variety of settings. You don’t need to talk to many Reception teachers to know the frustrations of undoing the various mnemonics and rhymes that children have learned in order to start fresh with phonics as a whole class.

So, be confident to leave GPC teaching to Reception, safe in the knowledge that you are doing the best possible thing you can do for your children by focusing your time and efforts on what matters most at Nursery age: communication and language.