At St George’s Catholic Primary School we believe that for all our children to become fluent readers and writers, phonics must be taught through a systematic and structured phonics programme.
We use Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, to plan and provide daily engaging phonics lessons. In phonics, we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent a different sound, that these can be used in a variety of combinations and are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise all of the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing. Our phonics teaching starts in Nursery and follows a very specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies as they move through school. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover. At St George’s we also model these strategies in reading and writing both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on the development of language skills for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
How we teach phonics and Early Reading (Early Years and KS1)
- In the nursery, children follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised ‘Foundations for Phonics’ guidance. The focus is on daily oral blending and language development through high quality stories and rhymes.
- In reception and Y1, children follow the progression within Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. Phonics is taught daily and there is a review session on a Friday.
- Phonics starts in reception in week 2 to ensure the children make a strong start.
- By the end of reception, children will have been taught up to the end of phase 4.
- By the end of year 1, children will have been taught up to the end of phase 5.
- Children in year 2 recap any gaps in their phonics knowledge in the autumn term.
- Reception lessons start at 15 minutes, with daily additional oral blending – increasing quickly to 30 minutes.
- Y1 lessons are 30 minutes long.
Reading Practice Sessions
- Children across reception, year 1, year 2 (and beyond if appropriate) apply their phonics knowledge by using a fully matched decodable reader in a small group reading practice session.
- These sessions are 15 minutes long and happen three times a week.
- There are approximately 6 children in a group.
- The sessions follow the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised.
- Children are then allocated with the same book on our e-library to read at home the following week to ensure success is shared with the family.
- In reception these sessions start in week 4. Children who are not yet blending take a wordless book home.
How do we assess phonic knowledge?
- In reception, year 1 and year 2 at the end of each week there is a review session which recaps the learning. There are also whole review weeks (pre-planned and bespoke review weeks to address gaps identified by the class teacher’s ongoing formative assessment).
- Children identified in reception, year 1 and year 2 as in danger of falling behind are immediately identified and daily ‘keep up’ sessions are put in place – these sessions follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
- In reception and year 1, the children are assessed at the end of every half term using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker.
- Children in year 1 complete the statutory Phonics Screening Check in the summer term.
- Children who do not meet standard in the Phonics Screening Check in Y1, will complete this in Y2. Support continues to be put in place for these children.
Reading for pleasure – Early Years and KS1
Alongside daily teaching of phonics, reading for pleasure is an important part of our Early Reading offer. We ensure children develop a love of reading and are exposed to a range of interesting and relevant authors. We promote a love of reading in the following ways:
- Daily storytime.
- Whole class reading sessions which include a range of books that are mapped out to ensure children have a rich reading diet, vocabulary is explicitly taught and children can learn key phrases in the book.
- Book areas within the classroom which have a careful selection of books, including books by the focus author.
- Teaching of poetry, which includes performing and learning a range of poems by heart.
- Use of Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised ‘Foundations for a Love of reading’ stories in nursery.
- Alongside children’s decodable reading book, children also take home a reading for pleasure book each week.
- In each year group, children will take home a range of books by authors, including some which they have read in class.
- Regular class visits to our local Meadows Library.
- Book Swap boxes within our school grounds that children are able to loan from and return books to. This gives children unrestricted access to a wide range of beautiful books that have been curated and organised by the children in our Pupil Leadership Team.
- ‘Mystery Readers’ that come into our classes regularly to read to the children at home time. Parents and carers are actively encouraged to take part in this. The children thoroughly enjoy listening to a different adult read them a story. Teachers give children clues before the mystery reader arrives to build anticipation and excitement.
- Every child in St George’s starts their journey in Reception with a subscription to Reading Eggs. Reading Eggs is a fantastic resource in which children complete animated online lessons where they learn essential reading and phonics skills. The variety of fun activities within each lesson provides the repetition needed for these skills to become part of the child’s long-term memory.
- Special Reading for Pleasure events such as book fairs, author visits, workshops and national events such as World Book Day.
For useful reading links, our approach to reading in KS2 and reading enrichment across the school please click here
If you are a parent and would like more information about how to support your child with phonics at home, please follow this link to find the Reception and Year 1 overview as well as videos of the sound pronunciations, letter formation sheets and other helpful resources.