Early Reading and Phonics
At Rusthall St Paul’s, our aim is for every pupil to develop a lifelong love of reading and rich literature. We believe that reading opens up a new world to pupils and gives them the opportunity to explore new ideas, visit new places, meet new characters and develop a better understanding of other cultures. To enable all pupils to be confident and fluent readers, we know that it is essential that they have a secure understanding of letters and sounds (phonic skills are essential in developing competent and assertive readers). We know that once pupils have acquired these phonics skills, they are able to apply them in all areas of their learning as they begin their path to becoming lifelong readers. We also acknowledge that we want our pupils to acquire an ever increasing vocabulary and recognise that reading plays a key role in this. Reading opportunities are incorporated throughout all areas of the curriculum ensuring that pupils develop their understanding of a wider breadth of vocabulary alongside their acquisition of knowledge.
Phonics and Early Reading
We use a systematic approach for the teaching of phonics. A strategic review of phonics, in line with DFE guidance and our own monitoring, informs our Phonics provision. From November 2021, we began to implement the rigorous Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme in the EYFS and KS1, this has been fully in place since January 2022. This is an approved and validated systematic synthetic approach to phonics teaching. The children take part in daily phonics sessions as a whole class in Year R and Year 1. Teachers assess children’s understanding formatively during every lesson. Every 6 weeks a phonics assessment takes place. This helps teachers to identify the sounds which each child can confidently recognise on their own and within a word, and those sounds that may be less secure. Teachers use this information to inform their future planning for the class and address any gaps in phonic knowledge.
As part of the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds programme, all Reception and Year 1 children take part in reading practice sessions in adult-led small groups three times a week. We use the Little Wandle fully decodable reading texts and our phonics assessments ensure that these books closely match the children’s secure phonics knowledge. The first session focuses on decoding the story (sounding out and blending words to read them), the second session focuses on prosody (reading aloud with expression) and the third session focuses on comprehension (understanding what they are reading and answering questions about the text). By the end of the third reading session, each child should be able to read the text with 95% fluency and accuracy. These reading books along with others from the Little Wandle Scheme which match the children’s secure phonic knowledge are sent home to be read parents with a focus on continuing to develop accuracy and fluency in reading. Children are encouraged to read their book 3 times each week. Children also have the opportunity to choose their own reading books from a wider range of texts to develop vocabulary, story structure and to help foster a love of reading. These books are shared reading books with parents and carers.
In June, we carry out the statutory Phonics Screening Check with all Year 1 pupils. It is expected that most children will achieve the standard expected by the end of Year 1. If a child does not reach this standard, they re-take the assessment the following year, in Year 2.
Further information can be found at https://www.littlewandlelettersandsounds.org.uk/resources/for-parents/