Phonics and Early Reading at STM
In November 2021 we began to use the government validated systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP) called ‘Little Wandle: Letters & Sounds Revised’.
The programme is designed to teach children to read using the skill of decoding and blending sounds together to form words
. “The Little Wandle programme provides a full progression through all commonly occurring GPCs* (sounds), working from simple to more complex, and taking into account the frequency of their occurrence in the most commonly encountered words.”
Please access the Little Wandle website (link below) to find more information. The 'For parents' section provides videos of how to pronounce the Phase 2 and Phase 3 sounds and how we teach the reading of words.
Sequence of learning:
Phases 2,3 and 4 : Reception
Phases 4 and 5: Year 1
Phase 6 : Year 2 - taught through 'No Nonsense Spelling' Scheme
(see our 'Writing Curriculum Page' for more information on 'No Nonsense Spelling'
At St Thomas More, we have adapted our phonics long term plan this academic year, to support our children in recovery after COVID and related school closures: Phonics Curriculum Overview – 2021-22
From September 2022 we shall be returning to this Phonics Sequence: Phonics Curriculum Overview – 2022-23
Support for Parents
These three videos show you how to pronounce the sounds. Notice how the children don’t add an ‘uh’ sound at the end, so they say: ‘t’ not ‘tuh’. Use the downloadable information to help your child remember how to write their letters and say their sounds.
How we teach
The videos below show how we teach your child specific aspects of phonics in class.
Support your child with reading
Although your child will be taught to read at school, you can have a huge impact on their reading journey by continuing their practice at home.
There are two types of reading book that your child may bring home:
- A reading practice book. This will be at the correct phonic stage for your child. They should be able to read this fluently and independently.
- A sharing book. Your child will not be able to read this on their own. This book is for you both to read and enjoy together.
Reading practice book
This book has been carefully matched to your child’s current reading level. If your child is reading it with little help, please don’t worry that it’s too easy – your child needs to develop fluency and confidence in reading.
Listen to them read the book. Remember to give them lots of praise – celebrate their success! If they can’t read a word, read it to them. After they have finished, talk about the book together.
In order to encourage your child to become a lifelong reader, it is important that they learn to read for pleasure. The sharing book is a book they have chosen for you to enjoy together.
Please remember that you shouldn’t expect your child to read this alone. Read it to or with them. Discuss the pictures, enjoy the story, predict what might happen next, use different voices for the characters, explore the facts in a non-fiction book. The main thing is that you have fun!
At St. Thomas More CVA, we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers, and we know that Phonics provides the foundation in supporting children to develop these skills in order for this to become achievable. Confident and enthusiastic readers are able to access the wider curriculum more easily and will develop a love of reading that stays with them for life.
Recently, the government have decided to reinvest in the widely used Phonics programme, Letters and Sounds, in order to create a restructured and fully resourced version of this. To keep within the recommended government guidelines, and to ensure we maintain the highest standards of education at St. Thomas More CVA, we have made some changes with regards to Phonics and Early Reading across the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1.
We use the government validated systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP) called ‘Little Wandle: Letters & Sounds Revised’. The programme is designed to teach children to read from Reception to Year 2, using the skill of decoding and blending sounds together to form words. The Little Wandle programme provides a full progression through all commonly occurring GPCs (sounds), working from simple to more complex, and taking into account the frequency of their occurrence in the most commonly encountered words.
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 will be able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. Staff 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.
The teaching of Phonics is fast-paced, and we encourage all children to actively participate in each lesson, and by encouraging the children to take ownership of their learning we are continuously striving for excellence.
We ensure that we provide all children with the fundamental skills that will enable them to be confident and fluent readers.
We know that reading and writing is an essential life skill and we are dedicated to enabling our children to become enthused, engaged and successful lifelong readers and writers. To support this, we practise the ‘Little Wandle: Letters and Sounds Revised’ scheme and will implement the following:
Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
- We teach phonics for up to 30 minutes a day. 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
- 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 use the ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ assessments for children in Year 2 to 6 who do not have secure phonic knowledge. These assessment identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and staff teach to these using the keep-up resources at pace.
Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week in Early Years and Key Stage 1 (Awaiting Big Cat Collins resources to begin)
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 (Big Cat Little Wandle: Letters and Sounds Revised)
-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.
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.
Additional Phonics and Reading support for vulnerable children
- Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 will receive additional Phonics ‘keep up’ sessions either on a 1:1 basis or in a small group.
Ensuring consistency and pace of progress
- Every Reception and Key Stage 1 teacher and teaching assistant in our school will be trained during November to teach reading. The aim throughout the academic year of 2021 – 2022 is to train all staff, with priority given to the HLTAs and TAs who work with children with additional needs, across key stages. This is to ensure we have the same expectations of progress and all staff are experts in early reading.
- We will 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 will 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 gaps in learning.
By the time children leave St. Thomas More CVA, they are competent and fluent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a passion for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books. Their love of reading enables them to fully access the wider curriculum with ease and becomes a life-long skill.
In December 2020, when children in Year 2 completed the Phonics Screening Check, 88% of the cohort passed the assessment. This pass rate reached 93% in Summer 2. The children who did not pass continue to be supported with their development of phonic knowledge in class and through additional support.