At Yew Tree Community School, we want to make every child a reader. It is essential that our approach to teaching phonics and reading is accessible to all learners, regardless of their background. We also want to make reading pleasurable and create a love of reading across the school.
At Yew Tree Community School, we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in Nursery following Little Wandle Letters and sounds revised foundation programme through listening and tuning into sounds. Once the children reach reception, they 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 Yew Tree Community 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. This enables the children to become fluent and confident readers.
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’. We use the new Little Wandle foundation for phonics programme.
- 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.
We ensure Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.
Reception and Year 1
We teach phonics for up to 25 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. 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 Phases 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
Daily Keep-up lessons
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.
Year 2 follow the Little Wandle Letters and sounds revised programme. This is tailored to Year 2 children to consolidate their phonics understanding and follow a spelling programme for when they reach KS2. Phonics lessons will continue for those children who are not fully fluent in their reading and for those who have not yet met the required standard in the ongoing assessments. Additional practice sessions using the Little Wandle keep-up materials are planned as these children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen.
Key stage 2
We timetable phonics rapid catch up intervention sessions for any child in Year 3 and above who are not fully fluent at reading or have not passed the ongoing assessments. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the Rapid Catch-up assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Rapid Catch-up resources. These short, sharp lessons last 15-20 minutes daily and have been designed to ensure children quickly catch up to age-related expectations in reading.
Consistency of teaching of phonics
Every teacher and teaching assistant in our school has been trained to teach phonics and 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 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 and teaching assistants all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.
- The Reading Leader and SLT regularly monitor and observe teaching to ensure consistency and fidelity to planning.
Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it. This is done through daily teacher assessment through teachers monitoring children’s understanding of the grapheme, segmenting and blending. A summative assessment is also carried out every 6 weeks to assess the progress of the children. This is where gaps are identified and what additional support needs to be put into place to support the children to keep up with their peers. This data is analysed by the Early reading lead and SLT to narrow the gaps between all children and identify if support is needed for specific groups or individuals. During every reading session, a three tick approach is used to assess the children’s understanding. This is logged on the reding practice sheet that is kept in a group file.
Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics screening check. Any child who does not pass the test re-sits it in Year 2.
How to support your child at home
Here is the Little Wandle website for extra support for you to support your child at home.