On this page you will find information about:
- Foundations for Phonics in Nursery
- Daily Phonics Lessons in Reception and Key Stage 1
- Home Reading
- Reading for Pleasure, Reading for Life
- Phonics Help for Parents
In Durham Gilesgate Primary School we teach children to read using the Little Wandle (Letters and Sounds Revised) phonic approach. In Nursery, children learn the skills which underpin phonics; the ability to listen to, recognise and discriminate between different sounds.
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 Key Stage 1
When children are in Reception they begin to learn their letter sounds (phonemes) and the written letters which represent them (graphemes). In addition children will learn to blend sounds together to read a word, to listen to a word and to recognise which sounds are used to make it. This is called blending and segmenting.
Not all words can be sounded out using phonics and these are called ‘tricky words.’ Children learn to recognise and sight read these ‘tricky words.’
We teach phonics for 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.
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.
Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read
In the 2021-2022 academic year, we are also teaching phonics to children in Year 2 and to some children in Key Stage 2. This is because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on early reading for some children.
Once Little Wandle has been embedded into the school and there are no more disruptions then it is our intention that the vast majority of children will have learned to read using a phonic approach by the end of Year 1. (There may be children with a learning difficulty or who are new to the school who may not reach that standard by the end of Year 1, in these cases we will continue to use a phonic based approach in Year 2 or beyond)
- 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 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 Letters and Sounds Revised assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Keep-up resources.
- If any child in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading we teach phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to specifically address these gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least three times a week.
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 approximately six children
- use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge via the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments. The books are matched precisely so that children can decode and read the words in them
- 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.
In Year 2 and 3, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.
Additional Reading Support for Vulnerable Children
Children in Reception and Year 1 who are receiving additional phonics Keep-up sessions read their reading practice book to an adult daily.
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 language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.
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 senior leaders use the Audit and Prompt cards to regularly monitor and observe teaching; they use the summative data to identify children who need additional support and have gaps in learning.
The decodable reading practice book is taken home to ensure success is shared with the family.
- Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to children.
- 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
Reading for Pleasure, Reading for Life
‘Reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s success.’ (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD 2002)
At Durham Gilesgate Primary School we not only want to have a rigorous system for teaching reading, we also want children to acquire a love of reading so that will motivate them to read more often thereby developing this lifelong skill.
We place a high value on reading for pleasure and work hard as a school to develop our reading for pleasure pedagogy.
- We read to children every day. We choose these books carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the diversity of our school community.
- Every classroom has an inviting book corner that encourages a love for reading. We curate the books in these areas and talk about them to entice children to read a wide range of texts.
- Bookflix displays encourage children to choose from and read a range of books specifically chosen for each class.
- In Nursery/Reception, children have access to the reading corner every day in their free flow time and the books are continually refreshed.
- Children from Nursery/Reception onwards have a home reading record. The parent/carer records comments to share with the adults in school and the adults will write in this on a regular basis to ensure communication between home and school.
- As the children progress through the school, they are encouraged to write their own comments and keep a list of the books/authors that they have read.
- The school library is made available for classes to use at designated times.
- Children across the school have regular opportunities to engage with a wide range of reading for pleasure events (author visits and workshops, national events etc).
Parents can help us achieve our aims by sharing books with their children and taking time to read at home with them on a regular basis, talking about the text they have read.
Some key vocabulary used when talking about Phonics and Reading
- Phonics– the learning of letters and sounds
- Phoneme– the sound a letter makes
- Grapheme– the written letter
- Blending– running sounds together to make a word
- Segmenting– breaking a word up into its component sounds
- Tricky words – words that cannot be decoded using phonics
- CVC– c = consonant (b/c/d/f), v = vowel (a/e/i/o/u)
- Digraph– a sound made with two letters g. sh ai oi
- Phonetically plausible– a word written phonetically that can still be read although it is spelled incorrectly g. Torl(tall), werk (work)
Phonics Help for Parents
If you are looking for some help with phonics the resources on this page will help you support your child with saying their sounds and writing their letters. There are also some useful videos so you can see how they are taught at school and feel confident about supporting their reading at home.
The link will take you to the For Parents page on Little Wandle website.