Phonics and Early Reading
At St Joseph's, we believe that all children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in Reception and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.
As a result, our children are able to tackle unfamiliar words as they read. At St. Joseph's, we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum.
We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects. Little Wandle Letters and Sounds concentrates on activities to promote speaking and listening skills, phonological awareness and oral blending.
How we teach phonics
- 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.
- Reception lessons start at 10 minutes, with daily additional oral blending - increasing to 30 minutes as soon as possible.
- Y1 lessons are 30 minutes long.
- In Y2-Y3, phonic lessons are taught daily to children where appropriate - following the model of Little Wandle but plugging specific gaps identified through assessment.
- In Y2- Y6 there are planned phonic 'catch-up' sessions following a set model to address specific reading/writing gaps. These are short sharp sessions lasting 10 minutes in length and taking place at least three times a week.
Reading practice sessions
- Children across reception, year 1, year 2 (and beyond if appropriate) apply their phonics knowledge by using a full 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.
- The children then take the same book home the following week to ensure success is shared with the family.
- In reception these sessions start in week 4. Children who are not decoding, do a little blending lesson, following the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sound Revised.
How do we assess phonic knowledge?
- In reception and year 1, 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 and Y1 as in danger of falling behind are immediately identified and daily 'keep up' sessions are put in place - 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.
- The children in Y1 sit the Phonics Screening Check in the summer term.
- Children who do not pass the Phonics Screening Check in Y1, will re-sit this in Y2.
- Children who are in Y2-Y6 and need 'catch-up' sessions are assessed through teacher's ongoing formative assessment as well as half termly summative assessments.
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.
Because we believe teaching every child to read is so important, we have a Reading Leader who drives the early reading programme in our school. This person is highly skilled at teaching phonics and reading, and they monitor and support our reading team, so everyone teaches with fidelity to the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:
• prosody – reading with meaning, stress and intonation
• comprehension – understanding the text.