Phonics and Early Reading
We passionately believe that teaching children to read and write independently and as quickly as possible is one of the core purposes of a primary school. These fundamental skills not only hold the keys to the rest of the curriculum but also have a huge impact on children’s self-esteem and future life chances.
We believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond and is embedded across the entire curriculum for our children.
We strive for enthusiastic and motivated readers that gain confidence in reading a wide variety of genres and text types, encouraging a love of literature and an enjoyment of reading for pleasure.
We start teaching phonics in Nursery and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression. This provides a synthetic approach to the teaching of phonics which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.
Phonics lessons are currently taught in 20 minute sessions. Phonics sessions in reception build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson.
We are currently teaching an additional 20 minute phonics session every afternoon to allow the children the opportunity to Catch-up on missed learning, as outlined in the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. When the children have caught up and are reading and applying their sounds to decode and encode words confidently, they will have one 30 minute phonics session daily.
Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised focuses on teaching phonics from phase 2-5. We currently follow Letters and Sounds progression for phase 1 and, when the children have finished the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme, they move to phase 6, which focuses on teaching spelling and grammar strategies, following the National Curriculum. These different phases progressively build on the skills needed to read (oral blending, decoding and comprehension) and write (encoding using the grapheme-phoneme correspondence the children learn through phonics). Below you will find information about each phase.
Phase One (Nursery)
Aspect One: Environmental Sounds
Aspect Two: Instrumental Sounds
Aspect Three: Body Percussion
Aspect Four: Rhythm and Rhyme
Aspect Five: Alliteration
Aspect Six: Voice Sounds
Aspect Seven: Oral Blending and Segmenting
Phase Two (Reception autumn 1 and 2 Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised begins)
Children are introduced to grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs). Grapheme means how the letter is written, phoneme means the sound the letter makes. The children are expected to learn and recall these in the first term of reception to start their reading journey. These will be taught alongside the tricky words for each phase. Tricky words are words that come up frequently in early reading but that do not follow the phonics rules the children have learnt in order to read. This is why they are tricky.
Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised believe that all children should be blending by Christmas. If this is not the case, Keep-up sessions will be put in place to support children with their blending.
In Reception, the 3 reading practice sessions start in Week 4. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books.
Phase Three (Reception Spring 1 and 2)
Children will learn the vowel digraphs and trigraphs, words with double letters and longer words as well as new tricky words. Digraphs – two letters make one sound. Trigraphs – three letters making one sound. Please see the progression document below for more information on the progression in which grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught. The children will be expected to recognise the grapheme-phoneme correspondence and apply these to read words.
Phase Four (Reception Summer 1 and 2 and Year 1 autumn 1)
Children will learn to read and spell words containing adjacent consonants, longer words, compound words and words ending in suffixes.
Phase Five (Year 1 and 2)
Phase 5 ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code. Children will be taught to recognise and use alternative pronunciations for grapheme-phoneme correspondences, for example they will have previously learnt ‘ai’ sound, written AI. Through phase 5 they will learn it can be written in different ways, such as ‘ay’, ‘a’, ‘a-e’. We call this Grow the Code as the children learn to spell phonemes they have already been taught, using alternative graphemes that make the same phoneme (sound). Please see this document below which is used throughout classes in school to support children in making the correct grapheme choices.
Phase Six (Year 2 from the National Curriculum)
Children are taught to develop their skill and automaticity in reading, spelling and grammar, where they will be encouraged to make appropriate spelling choices from rules taught but also creating ever-increasing capacity to read for meaning.
All phonics sessions follow the same teaching sequence:
•Revisit and review- where previously taught GPCs are revised, children revisit reading previously taught words and revisit tricky words.
•Teach- new sounds and/or tricky words are taught.
•Practise- reading and writing letters and words with the new sound in. We put a strong focus on children’s early communication and language so it is vital that when learning new vocabulary, the children understand new words, can explain what the word means and understand it within a sentence.
•Practise and apply- read and write words and sentences with the new sound in.
Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read
Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week
At the end of Year 1 the children are required to complete a phonics assessment which is made up of real and nonsense words. This assesses how well children can use and apply their phonic knowledge to read words. You will be told your child’s result at the end of Year 1 and if your child has or has not met the benchmark grade. If your child doesn’t achieve the benchmark grade, then further intensive support will be given in Year 2 following the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised Keep-up programme.
We read to children every day. We choose these books carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the children at Gamston Primary School and our local community as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures. This takes place at the end of each school day across the whole school developing a shared love, passion and enjoyment of reading.
Pupils go onto deepen their phonics skills through Reading Practice sessions in EYFS and KS1, as outlined above, and through Reciprocal Reading in KS2. This will also be embedded through their English work and across the whole wider curriculum, ensuring that phonic knowledge and skills are consistently practised, applied and secured in a range of contexts. We provide opportunities for children to explore language through drama and role-play as this provides opportunities for pupils to develop and order their ideas through play and by applying language learnt from all areas of the curriculum. Classrooms are well-resourced with Grow the Code, phonics walls and phonics tools kits which are readily available, empowering pupils to independently make correct spelling choices.
We strongly believe that working in partnership with parents is key to unlocking success. We communicate regularly with parents so they know the sounds the children are currently working on in class. We offer opportunities for parents to come to phonics workshops to support parents with knowing how to help at home. Please see the presentation below if you were not able to attend and to help your child at home.
Through the teaching of systematic phonics following the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme, our aim is for children to become fluent, confident readers by the end of Year 1 to enable them to build on their reading skills from year 2 onwards.
Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.
• Assessment for learning is used:
o daily within class to identify children needing Keep-up support
o weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.
• Summative assessment is used:
o every six weeks to assess progress, to identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed, to identify any children needing additional support and to plan the Keep-up support that they need.
o by SLT and scrutinised through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker, to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.
• The Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised placement assessment is used:
o with any child new to the school to quickly identify any gaps in their phonic knowledge and plan provide appropriate extra teaching.
• Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics screening check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.
Ongoing assessment for catch-up
• Children in Year 2 to 6 are assessed through:
o their teacher’s ongoing formative assessment
o the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds placement assessment
o the appropriate half-termly assessments.
In addition to this, we ensure our children are enthusiastic and motivated readers who are inspired by literature and read for pleasure.