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Phonics and Early Reading

Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. Children learn to match the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters. Learning phonics helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language. As children learn, they develop their ability to decode words as they read and encode sounds, which helps children know which letters to use when they are writing words.                                                                                

We teach phonics from their first few days in school, through ‘Little Wandle’ Letters and Sounds Revised Scheme, which is a government accredited systematic, synthetic phonic teaching programme. The phonic programme exceeds the expectations of the National Curriculum and Early Learning Goals with clearly defined expectations set out term by term.  


Intent and Progression 

The phonic progression identifies the grapheme phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and tricky words taught every week. A new sound is taught on four days of the week, with a review of the sounds taught for the week on the fifth day.

The programme of study aims for...

  • Children in Reception 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 consolidate their understanding of Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.


Lessons follow the format of:

  • Recall and Review - short, pacey review of prior learning;
  • Teach - introduction of new learning with strong teacher modelling;
  • Practise and Apply - children practice and apply the learning;
  • Review - reinforcement of the key learning and addressing any misconceptions identified during the lesson;
  • Application to Reading - children then apply their phonic skills to reading fully decodable books matched to their reading ability.


Keep Up Lessons

  • The teacher will check that all of the children are keeping up in the lesson.
  • If children do not grasp the grapheme/phoneme correspondences and tricky words in the lesson, 1-1 intervention will take place on the same day, to ensure any misconceptions and weaknesses in learning are addressed. These sessions are taught by a fully trained adult.
  • Keep up sessions match the structure of the class teaching and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition. This is so that every child is secure with their learning and enables them to keep up with the expected progress.


Application of Phonics to Reading

Our reading scheme books are aligned to Little Wandle Letters and Sounds, are fully decodable and follow the progression in our phonic programme. When selecting a book for a child to read, we ensure that it is matched to the letter-sound correspondences they have learnt, so they can confidently, and effectively, apply their phonic knowledge. Children continue to be taught phonics until they become fluent readers.

In Key Stage 1, there are at least two group reading practice sessions each week. In these sessions we teach the application of reading skills.  

The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:

  • Decoding- using phonic knowledge to read individual words
  • Prosody- teaching children to read with understanding and expression
  • Comprehension- teaching children to understand the text                                                            


Each reading practice session will begin with a pacey review of graphemes, tricky words and practice of fluent reading of words which will appear in the specifically matched book. The children will read the same book in each of the sessions and aims to develop reading fluency. They will then have a copy of the book to read at home to ensure success is shared with their family.

Children who are not yet blending confidently, have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books. As soon as they are able to blend they will begin reading practice sessions.