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Our approach to Early Reading and Phonics

At Elmridge Primary School, we believe that for all of our children to become fluent readers and writers, phonics must be taught through a systematic and structured phonics programme.

From September 2022, we will be using Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised to plan and provide daily, engaging phonics lessons. We teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent a different sound and that these can be used in a variety of combinations to make words.

Our phonics teaching starts in Nursery and follows a very specific sequence, that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific strategies as they move throughout school.

At Elmridge, we model these strategies within shared reading and writing activities, both inside and outside specific phonics lessons and across the breadth of the curriculum.

We value reading as a crucial life skill. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose.

How we teach Phonics

  • In the Nursery, children follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised ‘Foundations for Phonics’ guidance. The focus is on daily oral blending and language development through high quality stories and rhymes.
  • In Reception and Year 1, children follow the progression within Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. Phonics is taught daily and there is a review session on a Friday.
  • Phonics starts in Reception during week 2 of the Autumn Term, to ensure the children make a strong start to their learning journey.
  • By the end of Reception, children will have been taught up to the end of Phase 4.
  • By the end of Year 1, children will have been taught up to the end of Phase 5.
  • Reception lessons begin as short 10 minute sessions, with daily additional oral blending – increasing to 30 minutes as soon as possible. 
  • In Year 2 / Year 3, Phonics lessons are taught daily to children where appropriate – following the model of Little Wandle, but identifying any specific gaps through assessment.
  • In Year 2 to Year 6, there are planned Phonics ‘catch up’ sessions, wherever necessary. These are short, sharp sessions lasting 10 minutes in length and taking place at least three times a week.

Reading practice sessions

  • Children across Reception and Key Stage 1 (and beyond, if appropriate) apply their Phonics knowledge by using a fully matched, decodable reading book, in a small group practice session.
  • These sessions are 15 minutes long and happen three times a week. There are approximately 6 children in a group.
  • The sessions follow the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised.
  • The children can then access the same book at home the following week, to ensure success is shared with the family.
  • In Reception these sessions start in week 4. Children who are not yet decoding independently, take part in an alternative blending lesson, following the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sound Revised.

How do we assess Phonic knowledge?

  • In Reception and Year 1, at the end of each week, there is a ‘review session’ which recaps previous learning. There are also whole review weeks, which are pre-planned and aim to address any misconceptions identified by the class teacher’s ongoing formative assessment.
  • Any children identified in Reception and Year 1 as requiring ‘keep up sessions’, are immediately identified and daily sessions are planned and delivered, in addition to the usual Phonics lessons. 
  • In Reception and Year 1, the children are assessed at the end of every half term using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker.
  • The children in Year 1 sit the Phonics Screening Check in the Summer term.
  • Children who do not pass the Phonics Screening Check in Year 1, will re-sit this in Year 2.
  • Children who are in Year 2 to Year 6 and require ‘catch up’ sessions, are assessed through teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as half termly summative assessments.

Supporting your child with reading

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.

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.

Sharing book

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 text 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!

The videos below demonstrate how we pronounce each different sound, represented by letters in the alphabet:

Resources for home

Proud to part of the Bright Futures Education Trust
Elmridge Primary School
Wilton Drive, Hale Barns
Altrincham, Cheshire WA15 0JF
Ofsted Good CEOP