Early reading is underpinned by good quality phonics teaching
The systematic teaching of phonics has a high propriety throughout Foundation Stage and Key Stage One and phonics is taught to all learner. ‘Keep up’ sessions, also known as short interventions, are planned for all children who are falling behind to ensure they make the same progress as their peers. Little Wandle Revised Letters and Sounds is our chosen systematic synthetic phonics programme. Learners are systematically taught the relationship between phonemes and the graphemes which represent them. The teaching approach consists of revisiting previously taught GPCs, reading familiar words that include taught GPCs, learning a new GPC each day and learning to blend and segment words that include the newly taught GPC, both in words and sentences.
Phonics is delivered in a whole class format in Foundation Stage and Key Stage One because it enables staff to ensure application across subjects, embedding the process in a rich literacy environment. A whole class approach also ensures that ALL children are exposed to the same level of phonics to allow disadvantaged pupils to make the same progress as their peers.
In KS2, for those children who still require phonics teaching, they are streamed into phased groups to ensure the children received the intervention they need to quickly secure early phonic and reading skills.
How do we implement phonics across Foundation Stage and Year 1?
Foundations for phonics in Nursery
- We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and language’ and ‘Literacy’. These include:
- sharing high-quality stories and poems
- learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
- activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
- attention to high-quality language.
- We ensure Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.
Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
- We teach phonics for 30 minutes twice a day (in the morning and the afternoon). In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
- Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term.
- We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress:
- Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
- Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read
- Any child who needs additional practice has daily Keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
- We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in KS2 who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics Screening Check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Keep-up resources – at pace.
Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week
- We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week. These:
- are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children
- use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids on pages 11–20 of ‘Application of phonics to reading’
- are monitored by the class teacher, who rotates and works with each group on a regular basis.
- Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:
- prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
- comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.
- In Reception these 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.
- In KS2, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.
- Children take home a decodable reading book that contain learnt GPCs and tricky words so that children can have additional practice at home and that reading success is shared with the family.
- Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to children. Children choose these reading for pleasure books from either their class library or the school library.
- We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised parents’ resources to engage our families and share information about phonics, the benefits of sharing books, how children learn to blend and other aspects of our provision, both online and through workshops.
Additional reading support for vulnerable children
- Children in Reception and Year 1 who are receiving additional phonics Keep-up sessions read their reading practice book to an adult weekly.
Ensuring consistency and pace of progress
- Every teacher in our school has been trained to teach reading, so we have the same expectations of progress. We all use the same language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.
- Weekly content grids map each element of new learning to each day, week and term for the duration of the programme.
- Lesson templates, Prompt cards and How to videos ensure teachers all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.
- The Reading Leader and SLT use the Audit and Prompt cards to regularly monitor and observe teaching; they use the summative data to identify children who need additional support and have gaps in learning.