St Francis Catholic Primary School a Voluntary Academy

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Early Reading and Phonics

Once you learn to read, you will be forever free-

Frederick Douglass

At St Francis we want every child to be able to read fluently by the end of KS1. We want our children to be resilient in their learning and to become proficient in their phonic knowledge resulting in them being able to confidently decode words and read fluently.  This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised.  It is upon this strong foundation that we empower, enable and encourage our children to enjoy books and become lifelong readers.


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.


At St Francis Catholic Primary School, we value reading and want all children to enjoy reading. 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 and understand a text.

Because we believe teaching every child to read is so important, we have an Early Reading and Phonics Leader in our school who drives the early reading programme and ensures the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme is taught with fidelity.

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.
  • Phonics is taught daily for 15 minutes discretely in Nursery.
  • We ensure Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.

Phonics in Reception and Year 1

We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers. Children are assessed every 6 weeks to ensure gaps in children’s learning are revisited.

Children make a prompt start in Reception as teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term. The first two weeks are spent revisiting the Foundation for Phonics.

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.

Phonics in Year 2

Every child is assessed on their phonics knowledge in week 1 of year 2. The children who were unable to pass their phonics screening along with children with larger gaps are taught from the gaps missing. Children who no longer need phonics, will receive a 20 minute spelling session daily and receive 30 minutes guided reading per day which will continue to support their reading fluency and spelling.

Year 2 children still accessing phonics will be assessed every 6 weeks and monitored up to Spring term and then access the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds ‘Keep Up’ programme if necessary.



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 Phonic/English lessons for any child in KS2 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 has addition needs in KS2, we use the Little Wandle SEN programme of learning to ensure that those children are continually working towards closing the gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan daily English lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps.


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 using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids.
  • are monitored by the class teacher who chooses appropriate books for each group and will work towards reading with each group over the course of each half term.

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
  • prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
  • comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.

In Reception, 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. These children also access reading practice sessions through wordless books.

In Year 2, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books and are accessing the ‘Keep up’ programme of learning.


Home reading

The same decodable reading practice book that the children read at school is sent home to support fluency of reading and ensure success is being shared with the family. In addition to the fully decodable book, children take home a library book and a non-decodable Big Cat Reading book to read for pleasure at home.

We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised parents’ resources such as the correct pronunciation of phonemes videos below, 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. Below are some phonics resources made by our phonics leader which children and parents can access at home.

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 training happens for all staff to teach one aspect of phonics lesson and it gives staff time to practice and discuss any support or successes they have.

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 SLT 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 gaps in learning.




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 Keep-up support
  • weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.

Summative assessment is used:

  • every six weeks to assess progress, to identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed, to identify any children needing additional support and to plan the Keep-up support that they need.
  • by SLT and scrutinised through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments as well as teacher judgement using an online assessment tracker, to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.

The Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised placement assessment is used with any child new to the school and starting in Year 2 to quickly identify any gaps in their phonic knowledge and plan provide appropriate extra teaching.

Statutory assessment

Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics screening check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.

Phonics Resources to Support Home Learning

Our Phonics Leader, Miss Breen, has made some resources below to support every sound in each phase of phonics.  Simply click on the follow up link from the Early Reading and Phonics page and all of the information you need will be there.