At Glusburn Primary School, we strive to ensure that all children become successful, fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. We believe this is achievable through a combination of high quality, discrete systematic phonics teaching combined with a language rich curriculum that promotes a reading for pleasure culture. 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. 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.
Learning to Read – Cracking the Phonics Code and Teaching Fluency
What is our approach to teaching phonics?
We recognise that SSP plays a critical role in teaching children to read and spell and so must be the core purpose of our children’s early education. With this in mind, phonics is taught using the complete systematic synthetic phonics programme: Little Wandle. Little Wandle is based on the original Letters and Sounds, but has been extensively revised to provide a complete teaching programme meeting all the expectations of the National Curriculum and preparing our children to go beyond the expectations of the Phonics Screening Check.
Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised 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.
Although we recognise that it is not mandatory to formally teach phonics until children are in reception, we allow our children in nursery access to a daily discrete phonics session in which they are exposed to all the single sound phonemes. We feel that this gives our children the best start in establishing secure foundations and ensures that we as a school do not miss vital opportunities at the start of a child’s reading journey. Our approach also ensures that the majority of our children are ‘reception ready’ and can begin reception by being re-introduced to the single sounds which they already have some knowledge of.
How are pupils grouped for phonics?
In EYFS pupils are grouped by their ‘phonic ability’ for the taught sessions; due to our systematic teaching of phonics, the clear phases of development greatly assist in understanding progression in phonics and support staff in grouping pupils according to their stage of learning.
In KS1, children are taught as a whole class; this is based on the same rationale as the principles behind whole-class reading: exposure for all; challenge for all; pace and engagement.
What is the phonics diet for our youngest children?
EYFS and Year One (Phases 1-5)
- A daily discrete taught session of around 25 minutes following the SSP teaching sequence outlined by: Little Wandle L&S Revised.
- A planned sequence of home reading books (Big Cat for Letters and Sounds) matched to the child’s phonetic ability so that deliberate practise can also take place at home – children will read approximately two books per week.
- The Big Cat scheme is supplemented by Dandelion Readers which may be used for consolidation and deliberate practise of particular sounds where the need is identified.
- In Early Years, children have access to reading books within provision which are matched to their phonetic ability.
- Children will access 1:1 reading at least weekly: these sessions develop children’s fluency, automaticity and basic comprehension.
- Phonics learning is revisited and reinforced throughout all other curriculum areas.
- Where children are identified to be struggling to remember phonetical knowledge in line with expectations, precision teaching is used alongside daily discrete sessions in order to ensure our ‘keep up, not catch up’ These children also access additional 1:1 reading with an adult.
Year Two (Phase 6)
- Daily discrete phonics sessions continue but are reduced in time as children revisit phases 3-5 in order to fully embed their phonetical knowledge.
- In Phase Six, children use their knowledge of grapheme-phoneme correspondences to become increasingly accurate spellers; the ‘No-Nonsense’ spelling scheme supports the implementation of phase six phonics.
- Children follow the Collins Big Cat for Letters and Sounds home reading scheme until the end of the Turquoise band and then progress from band Purple onwards (non Letters & Sounds).
Year Three and beyond
We recognise that children who are making the transition from Year 2 to Year 3 can become vulnerable to the demands of the increasingly challenging Key Stage Two curriculum. Therefore, we action carefully planned transitions to ensure their phonetical needs are still being met. Our Key Stage Two children have explicit spelling sessions using the ‘No-Nonsense’ scheme which enable them to re-visit and review their phonetical knowledge.
Support for SEND and lowest 20%
We have a determined approach that all children will meet or exceed the expected standard in reading primarily through our approaches in quality first teaching; offering a systematic reading curriculum where first, phonetical knowledge is developed and deepened to build fluency and later, immersive, ambitious and challenging reading sessions support comprehension and contextualisation.
The EEF state that, “The best evidence shows that teaching is the most important lever available to schools to improve pupil outcomes.”
The following interventions are used in addition to quality first teaching in order to support those children who are working below the expected standard in phonics:
- Keep-Up Intervention to support ‘Little Wandle’ Phonics
- Flashcards used to develop automaticity with High Frequency Words
- Precision Teaching of Phonics
- Additional/Daily 1:1 and/or small group reading / smaller guided group sessions alongside the whole-class sessions.
Staff Continuous Professional Development as a Priority
- We take the continuing professional development of staff seriously and as result ensure our staff receive regular training on how to deliver phonics effectively and how to deliver the comprehension curriculum. This includes full induction for members of staff who are new to school.
- Our EYFS and KS1 staff are fully trained in Letters and Sounds, Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised and Precision Teaching as an intervention programme for phonics keep-up.