Phonics and Early Reading
We teach Phonics (the way letters make sounds) through the systematic synthetic programme ‘Little Wandle’, which we have carefully adapted to suit the needs of our children.
Little Wandle has been built around the update (Letters and Sounds improving rates of progress 2021) and draws on our own school’s excellent practice. Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised also draws on the latest research into how children learn best; how to ensure learning stays in children’s long term memory and how best to enable children to apply their learning to become highly competent readers.
Ar Margaret Wix, our aim is to build children’s speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonetic knowledge and skills.
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. They can read this book more than once.
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!
Follow the link below for handy videos and resources you can use too!
Phonics and early reading policy
Phonics (reading and spelling)
At Margaret Wix, we believe that all our 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 Nursery/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, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. Where necessary, we make suitable adaptations to ensure that children are challenged and supported throughout the programme.
At Margaret Wix, 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.
At Margaret Wix we value reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children leave us, they read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure. Our readers are equipped with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose. 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.
Foundations for phonics in Nursery
We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and language’ and ‘Literacy’. These include:
We ensure Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.
Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
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.
Currently (Spring 1 2022), daily streamed phonics is completed every day in year 1 and 2, with children mastering beginning our essential spelling programme. Groups are assessed and children are moved on a regular basis to maximise children’s progress and attainment. Every area that is dedicated to phonics has the correct resources to support children’s learning.
Margaret Wix’s expectations of progress:
Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read
Any child who needs additional practice has 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 timetable phonics ‘Keep Up lessons’ for any child in Year 2 or 3 who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics Screening Check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the Comprehensive, half termly assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Keep-up resources – at pace.
If any child in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘Keep-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least two times a week.
Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week
In early years and year one, we teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week. These:
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:
In Reception, these sessions start approximately in Week 4. 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.
From Year two onwards, we continue to support reading in this way through targeted intervention for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.
The decodable reading practice book is taken home to ensure success is shared with the family.
Additional reading support for vulnerable children
Children from across the school, who are receiving additional phonics Keep-up sessions, read their reading practice book to an adult daily.
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.
The Reading Leader and SLT 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.
Ensuring reading for pleasure
‘Reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s success.’ (OECD 2002) ‘The will influences the skill and vice versa.’ (OECD 2010)
We value reading for pleasure highly and work hard as a school to grow our Reading for Pleasure pedagogy.
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:
Summative assessment is used:
Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics Screening Check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2. 5
Ongoing assessment for catch-up
Children in Year 2 to 6 are assessed through their teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as through the half-termly Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised summative assessments where appropriate. Children’s progress through our reading scheme is tracked formally half termly and targeted provision is put into place for those that need to catch up.