At St. Teresa’s RC Primary School, we are passionate about ensuring all children have the opportunities to become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We believe that phonics provides the foundations of learning to make the development into fluent reading and writing easier.
At St. Teresa’s, children are taught phonics using a systematic daily phonics programme. It maps out the order in which the individual speech sounds and the letter/s that represent them will be introduced and learned. These phonics lessons are structured so that they revisit what children have already learned as well as introducing new learning. This allows our phonics teaching and learning to be progressive from Nursery up to Year 2, as well as allowing children’s listening and speaking skills to develop.
This organised approach continues over time with children reading more and more words as new letters and their sounds are introduced. With practice, the skills of word recognition and blending become speedy and automatic and only used when needed. For example, even as expert readers we do call on our phonics skills and knowledge when we come across an unfamiliar word.
In EYFS and KS1, Phonics is taught through whole class teaching input and small group activities, largely using the ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ scheme. We teach phonics for 25-30 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.
In Nursery, we use the Foundations in Phonics guidance from Little Wandle but we also still use the 7 aspects of phase one phonics, moving on to introduce the first phonic sounds in the summer term. This is because Phase One falls largely within the Communication, Language and Literacy area of learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Phase One activities are arranged under the following seven aspects.
■ Aspect 1: General sound discrimination – environmental sounds
■ Aspect 2: General sound discrimination – instrumental sounds
■ Aspect 3: General sound discrimination – body percussion
■ Aspect 4: Rhythm and rhyme
■ Aspect 5: Alliteration
■ Aspect 6: Voice sounds
■ Aspect 7: Oral blending and segmenting
We ensure Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.
Reception and Year One classes follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised scheme, which we have adapted slightly to tailor it to the needs of our pupils. 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 Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
In Year 2, we revise the phases taught throughout Year 1 but the children move onto the National Curriculum spelling guidance after the first half term.
We have invested in the accompanying Collins eBooks, as they are linked with the Little Wandle progression precisely. We have also purchased all the necessary resources from Harper Collins to ensure consistency across the year groups.
Phonics lessons are taught in a multi-sensory way to embed learning and to adapt to children’s different learning styles. We understand that children need both knowledge and skills to make progress in phonics.
Through phonics children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability and blend sounds to read words.
There are around 44 different speech sounds in English. Phonics for reading is made up of two elements:
- The knowledge– knowing how the speech sounds (known as phonemes) in words we say are represented in written form by a letter or letters. For example, the word jam has 3 separate speech sounds /j/ /a/ /m/; the word boat has 3 separate speech sounds /b/ /oa/ /t/. A written letter or combination of letters is known as a grapheme.
- The skills– being able to recognise the separate speech sounds represented by the graphemes and say them and blend them together in order, to pronounce a whole word.
We have transitioned from using Letters and Sounds as – although it remains broadly relevant – was not updated in line with the National Curriculum in 2014.
Our new scheme is a Systematic Synthetic phonics programme, which is what the DfE recommends should be used.
Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised meets the 16 criteria essential core criteria as outlined by the DfE. The Scheme was placed on the DfE validated list of schemes in July 2021.
We use phonic books as part of our reading scheme, together with Collins phonics eBooks to ensure that our pupils are reading books that are consistent with their developing phonic knowledge and that do not require them to use other strategies to work out words.
Attainment in phonics is measured by the National Phonics Screening Check at the end of year 1. Results are reported to parents in their child’s annual report. Children that do not pass in year 1 will re-take the screening check in year 2.
Assessment is done throughout the year by the phonics co-ordinator and class teachers using Little Wandle assessments, phonics tracking sheets and past phonics screeners. The phonics co-ordinator uses the assessments to inform groupings, planning and interventions.
For children that need further support with their phonic sounds or blending skills, we use the Little Wandle ‘Keep up’ intervention. The children work in small groups with a Teaching Assistant, as well as being a part of the whole class phonics lessons. This ensures they do not miss out on quality first teaching but still have extra support to build their knowledge and skills.
For children that need further support with phonics in year 2 and 3, we run the intervention ‘Fast Track Phonics’. This is a 14 week support programme designed to address the gaps in learning and is run alongside the daily phonics sessions. The phonics co-ordinator runs this intervention, as well as teaching phonics lessons in EYFS and KS1. This gives the coordinator a good overview on the phonics progression throughout the key stages.
The children who need extra support also have individual reading sessions with a TA and reading volunteer, at least 3 times a week.
For children who need a more intensive one to one programme of support and who have been identified as having Special Educational Needs in this area, we use the ‘Dyslexikit’ intervention together with Multi-sensory learning techniques.
Please click the link below for the Parent’s page of the Little Wandle website. It includes videos of how the children are taught to say the sounds and how we teach phonics. Please note – the overview of the Reception and Year 1 phonic sounds provided by Little Wandle broadly corresponds with our progression at St. Teresa’s, but we have tailored the scheme slightly, in line with the National Curriculum and for the needs of our children.
Programme Overview_Reception and Year 1.indd (littlewandlelettersandsounds.org.uk)
See below for link to the DfE 16 core criteria that our phonic scheme meets.