At St George’s, 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 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. At St George’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.
We are proud to be working in partnership with the Little Sutton English Hub in a project aimed at improving the teaching of phonics in Primary schools in England. As part of this project, we are seeking to implement all aspects of the Department for Education's Challenge Checklist - to ensure that our phonics provision is as effective as possible.
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 full-length lessons as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to consolidate learning and help children become fluent readers.
- Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term.
- 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 Phases 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
- Phonics teaching continues beyond the Phonics Screening Check that pupils complete at the end of Year 1. The aim is that pupils are able to read fluently before moving off the programme.
- In Year 2, pupils who have not passed the Phonics Screening Check receive additional support through Little Wandle's Rapid Catch-up Programme. Spelling lessons in Year 2 continue to develop children's phonics knowledge, teaching Phase 6 patterns.
- Children in Year 3 or beyond who require additional support (either because they have not yet mastered the alphabetic code or because they are new to English) complete the Little Wandle Rapid Catch-up Programme to ensure that they learn to read fluently.
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 timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Years 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 Little Wandle Rapid Catch-up assessment to determine their current phonics level and teach the appropriate sections of the programme to close any gaps as quickly as possible.
Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week
- We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week. These:
- are taught by fully-trained adults to small groups of approximately six children
- use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids in the document Application of phonics to reading
- 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
- In Reception these sessions start 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.
Reading for pleasure
- We know that reading for pleasure is essential for a range of life outcomes. We therefore ensure that children regularly hear high-quality texts read aloud by adults.
- We aim to ensure that all classrooms have a range of engaging texts for pupils to explore and enjoy.
- From the start of their time at St George's, pupils are able to take home books to read with adults at home.
- Our reading challenges encourage and actively reward reading for pleasure. Our pupils greatly value the chance to get a Headteacher's award, for which they are allowed to select a book - free of charge - from one of our book vending machines!
- The decodable reading practice book is taken home to provide additional practice and ensure success is shared with the family.
- Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to children.
Parent support webpage
Here you will find further information about the phonics programme that we follow, including how to pronounce the sounds that we teach, how we teach children to read at our school and how to support with reading at home.