Phonics & Early Reading
The Context of Our School
Holy Trinity is a larger than average-sized primary school with 412 children on roll, including Nursery.
Upon entry into EYFS, children have a low profile in self-help, listening and attention and language and literacy.
- Our pupils are from a diverse range of backgrounds – 41% Pakistani, 19% Indian, 18% White British, 5% Black African and 17% Any Other backgrounds.
- 34% of pupils have English as an Additional Language (EAL) which is above the national average of 20%.
- 23% of children are in receipt of the pupil premium grant.
- 15% of pupils are on the SEND register which is higher than the national average of 13.5%. The highest need category of pupils on our SEND register is ‘Speech and Language’.
- 3.5% of pupils have an EHCP which is above the national average of 2.5%.
- 13.6% of our pupils are on the Vulnerable Pupil list.
It is essential that our approach to teaching phonics and reading is accessible to all learners, regardless of background.
Phonics (Reading and Spelling)
At Holy Trinity, 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. At Holy Trinity 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 Holy Trinity 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:
- sharing high-quality stories and poems
- learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
- activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
- attention to high-quality language.
- 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 every day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. We learn 4 new grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) each week. Every Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
- Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in their first full week after the transition period in 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 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 timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 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 Letters and Sounds Revised 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, they continue to be supported through phonics sessions.
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 a fully trained adult to small groups of children.
- use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments.
- are monitored by the early reading lead and 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:
- Decoding (blending the GPCs to read the words and reading tricky words).
- Prosody (teaching children to read with understanding and expression).
- Comprehension (teaching children to understand the text through questioning and discussion).
- We continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.
- Once a child has completed their three reading practice sessions in school, they will then take the same phonically decodable book home. This book is taken home to ensure success is shared with the family. This book is changed weekly.
- Children also take home a ‘Share Together’ book. Children chose this book themselves to encourage reading for pleasure. The ‘Share Together’ book is for parents to read to their child.
- 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 terminology, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load and have consistency across school.
- 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 uses the Monitoring Templates 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 and plan whole-class teaching with class teachers.
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 support
- weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.
- Summative assessment is used:
- by the early reading lead and class teachers every half term to assess progress, identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed, identify any children needing additional support and to plan the Keep-up support that they need.
- by the early reading lead and 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.
- For children receiving additional Keep-Up support every three weeks to monitor their progress and identify where further support may be needed.