Phonics and Early Reading


At St Cuthbert's, we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. We teach phonics and early reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching the skills for phonics in Nursery through lots of listening activities and games to tune pupils into their speaking and listening ability. In Reception and Year 1 we follow 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.


Through our teaching of phonics, children are able to tackle unfamiliar words as they read. To ensure our pupils can apply their phonics knowledge and skills, we model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on language development for our children as speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.


What Phonics Looks Like A St Cuthbert's


Daily Phonics Lessons in Reception and Year 1

  • We teach phonics lesson 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 secure their knowledge and skills.
  • 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 Phase 3 GPCs. In Phase 4 children are taught to read and spell words with adjacent consonants with fluency and accuracy.
    • Children in year 1 review Phase 2 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.


Daily Keep-up Lessons Supports Every Child To 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 and resources but in smaller steps with more repetition, This supports every child to secure their learning.
  • Daily phonics lessons or suitable 1-1 interventions are timetabled for any child in Year 2 or 3 who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics Screening Check.
  • Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments are used to identify the gaps in phonics knowledge and teach to these using keep-up resources. 


Teaching Early Reading: Reading Practice Sessions Three Times a Week

  • In Reception and Year 1, 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
    • Are monitored by the class teacher, who rotates and words 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:
    • decoding
    • prosody - teaching children to read with understanding and expression
    • comprehension - teaching children to understand the text.
  • In Reception, these sessions begin as soon as pupils are able to decode CVC words linked to GPCs they have been taught so far. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending 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 n this way for any children who still need to practice reading with decodable books unless they have moved to a personalised daily reading and writing intervention.


Home Reading

  • 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. This will be available online and via workshops at different points in the year.


Ensuring Consistency and Pace of Progress

  • All teachers have been trained to teach reading to ensure consistency in expectations of progress. The same language, routines and resources will be be used to teach children to read across year groups to support in lowering children's cognitive load.
  • Weekly content grid for phonics 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 uses the Audit and Prompt cards to regularly monitor and observe teaching. Summative data is used to identify children who need additional support and gaps in learning. 

Phonics Videos

We have created phonics videos to support your child's phonics at home. The videos include information on each sound from the phase, tricky words and examples of how to segment and blend. 

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