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Early Reading and Phonics


Phonics (reading and spelling)

At St Theresa's, we believe that reading is one of the most important life skills that we can teach our children.

We teach with fidelity to the Little Wandles Letters and Sounds Revised programme in a whole school approach to the teaching of phonics. This is a systematic way of teaching synthetic phonics and is a highly successful way of ensuring that children learn to read and write quickly and confidently.

At St Theresa'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.

Because we believe teaching every child to read is so important, we have an Early Reading and Phonics Leader, who drives the early reading programme in our school. 


By the time our children leave us, we aim that all children will read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure. Our readers will also be equipped with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose.


We teach phonics for 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: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term. Daily phonics lessons take place in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 following the Little Wandles Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress.

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.

Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week

We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week. These sessions are:

*  Are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children.

*  Use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge.

*  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.

Home reading

The decodable reading practice book is taken home to ensure success is shared with the family. Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to children.

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.

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.

Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.


Assessment for Learning is used daily within class to identify children needing Keep-up support and weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings

Summative Assessment used every six weeks to assess progress, to identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed, to identify any children needing additional support and to plan the Keep-up support that they need. This assessment data is also used by SLT and scrutinised through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker, to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.

Statutory assessment

Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics Screening Check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.

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