'Reading is a passport to countless adventures.'
Mary Pope Osborne
'I have learnt lots of sounds and I can blend' - Elijah
Since September 2021 we have been using the government validated systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP) called ‘Little Wandle: Letters & Sounds Revised’. The programme is designed to teach children to read from Reception to Year 2, using the skill of decoding and blending sounds together to form words. “The Little Wandle programme provides a full progression through all commonly occurring GPCs* (sounds), working from simple to more complex, and taking into account the frequency of their occurrence in the most commonly encountered words.”
Please access the Little Wandle website (link below) to find more information. The 'For parents' section provides videos of how to pronounce the Phase 2 and Phase 3 sounds and how we teach the reading of words.
At Princes Risborough Primary School, we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers, and we believe that Phonics provides the foundation in supporting children to develop these skills in order for this to become achievable.
We use the government validated systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP) ‘Little Wandle: Letters & Sounds Revised’. The programme is designed to teach children to read from Reception to Year 2, using the skills of decoding and blending sounds together to form words. The Little Wandle programme provides a full progression through all commonly occurring GPCs (sounds), working from simple to more complex, and taking into account the frequency of their occurrence in the most commonly encountered words.
We start teaching Phonics in Preschool ('Little Wandle Foundation for Phonics') 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.
As a result, our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At Princes Risborough Primary School we also 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 because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
The teaching of Phonics is fast-paced, and we encourage all children to actively participate in each lesson, and by encouraging the children to take ownership of their learning we are continuously striving for excellence.
At Princes Risborough Primary School we aim to ensure that we provide all children with the fundamental skills that will enable them to be confident and fluent readers.
At Princes Risborough Primary, we believe that reading and writing is an essential life skill and we are dedicated to enabling our children to become enthused, engaged and successful lifelong readers and writers. To support this, we practise the ‘Little Wandle: Letters and Sounds Revised’ Phonics scheme and implement the following:
Foundations for phonics in Preschool
· 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:
o sharing high-quality stories and poems
o learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
o activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
o attention to high-quality language.
· We ensure our Preschool pupils are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.
Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
· We teach phonics for up to 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:
o 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.
o 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 Phonics lessons in Year 2
Due to the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic we have adapted our current Phonics programme to meet the needs of the children.
· In the Autumn Term we teach phonics for up to 30 minutes a day with an emphasis on revising Phase 5 from Year 1 Summer Term planning.
Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read
· Any child who needs additional practice has regular keep-up support, led 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 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 in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan and deliver Phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps.
Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week in Early Years and Key Stage 1
We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week. These:
o are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children
o use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge (Big Cat Little Wandle: Letters and Sounds Revised)
o 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:
o prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
o 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.
Additional Phonics and Reading support for vulnerable children
· Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 receive additional Phonics ‘keep up’ sessions either on a 1:1 basis or in a small group.
· Children who are receiving additional phonics ‘keep-up’ sessions read their reading practice book to an adult daily.
· In Years 2 and 3, we continue to teach reading in the same way as Key Stage 1, for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.
· Children across Years 4 – 6 who need additional support will have regular 1:1 reading with decodable books.
Ensuring consistency and pace of progress
· Every Reception and Key Stage 1 teacher in our school has been trained to teach reading, the aim throughout the academic year of 2022 – 2023 is to train all staff, with priority given to the HLTAs and TAs who work with children with additional needs, across key stages. This is to ensure 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 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.
By the time children leave Princes Risborough Primary School we want them to be competent and fluent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a passion for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books. At Princes Risborough Primary School, we believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond and is embedded across the entire curriculum for our children.
Our systematic approach to teaching Phonics at PRPS, combined with our high expectations and a challenge for all ethos, has had a positive impact on the reading outcomes for all pupils. In 2022 69% of our Year 1 pupils passed the national Phonics Screening Check. 86% of the Year 2 pupils who did not pass the Phonics Screening Check in Year 1 passed in 2022. Those children who did not pass have all made progress since and are being supported through a tailored programme of Phonics, matched to their individual needs. We believe in high aspirations for our children at PRPS and have predicted an 82% pass rate for the Phonics Screening Check in 2023.
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:
o daily within class to identify children needing Keep-up support
o weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.
· Summative assessment is used:
o 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.
o by SLT and scrutinised through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker, to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.
· Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics Screening Check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.
Ongoing assessment for catch-up
· Children in Year 2 to 6 are assessed through their teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as through the half-termly ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ summative assessments.