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Early Reading

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

We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised to plan and provide daily engaging phonics lessons. In phonics, we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent a different sound, that these can be used in a variety of combinations and are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise all of the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing. Our phonics teaching starts in Reception and follows a very specific and consistent sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies as they move through school. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar decodable words that they might discover. At St James' we also model these strategies in shared reading and writing both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on the development of language skills for our children because we know that speaking and listening skills are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.


How we teach phonics and Early Reading (Early Years and KS1)

  • In Reception and Year 1, children follow the progression within the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. Phonics is taught daily. 
  • Phonics starts in Reception as soon as is appropriate for each individual cohort.
  • By the end of Reception, most children will have been taught up to the end of phase 4.
  • By the end of Year 1, most children will have been taught up to the end of phase 5.
  • Children in Year 2 recap any gaps in their phonics knowledge in the Autumn term and beyond as appropriate to individuals’ needs.
  • Reception lessons start at 15 minutes, with daily additional oral blending – increasing quickly to 25-30 minutes.
  • Year 1 lessons are 25-30 minutes long.
  • Parents are informed each week of the sounds and tricky words which their child is learning.

Guided Reading sessions

  • Children across Reception, Year 1 and beyond if appropriate apply their phonics knowledge by using fully matched decodable books in a small group reading practice session.
  • These sessions are 20 minutes long and take place twice a week.  There are approximately 6 children in a group.
  • The sessions follow the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised.
  • In Reception these sessions start on a 1:1 basis and move onto group sessions when appropriate. Children who are not yet blending take a wordless book home.
  • All books read at school during these sessions are also sent home for children to read.

How do we assess phonic knowledge?

  • At the end of each week there is a review session which recaps the learning. There are also whole review weeks (pre-planned and bespoke review weeks to address gaps identified by the class teacher’s ongoing formative assessment).
  • Any children identified as in danger of falling behind are immediately identified and daily ‘Keep Up’ sessions are put in place – these sessions follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
  • Children are assessed at the end of every half term using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker.
  • Children in Year 1 complete the statutory Phonics Screening Check in the summer term.
  • Children who do not meet standard in the Phonics Screening Check in Year 1, will complete this in Year 2. Support continues to be put in place for these children.