PHONICS

PHONICS

Since October 2022 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. 

https://www.littlewandlelettersandsounds.org.uk/resources/for-parents/

Intent

At Bledlow Ridge 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.

Recently, the government have decided to reinvest in the widely used Phonics programme, Letters and Sounds, in order to create a restructured and fully resourced version of this. To keep within the recommended government guidelines, and to ensure we maintain the highest standards of education at Bledlow Ridge School, we have made some changes with regards to Phonics and Early Reading across the Early Years Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1.

We use 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.

We start teaching Phonics in 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.

As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At Bledlow Ridge 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. 

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 Bledlow Ridge School we ensure that we provide all children with the fundamental skills that will enable them to be confident and fluent readers. 

Implementation

At Bledlow Ridge School, 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’ scheme and implement the following:

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. 

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.

Daily Phonics lessons in Year 2

In the Autumn Term we teach phonics for up to 30 minutes three times a week to pupils who did not pass the phonics screening in Year 1.

An initial assessment ensures that gaps are acknowledged and planned for. As well as filling gaps in knowledge, an emphasis on revising Phase 5 from Year 1 Summer Term is a priority. This prepares the children for the re-scheduled Screening Test taking place in December.

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 Phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 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 in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least three times a week.

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.

Working with expects from outside agencies, some pupils in school will have 1:1 session 4 x each week using a programme called Toe by Toe. 

Ensuring consistency and pace of progress

Reception and Year 1 teachers and Teaching Assistants in our school have been trained to teach reading, the aim throughout the academic year of 2022 – 2023 is to train all staff, with priority given to the 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.

 

Impact

By the time children leave Bledlow Ridge School they are 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 Bledlow Ridge 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, 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 68% of our Year 1 pupils passed the national Phonics Screening Check.

In 2022, 88% of Y2 children taking the Phonics Screening Check in the June reached the expected standard. 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 Bledlow Ridge School and have predicted an 80% pass rate for the Phonics Screening Check in 2023.

Assessment

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:

  • at the end of each term 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 assessment tracker, to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.

Statutory assessment

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 and 3 are assessed through their teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as through the half-termly ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ summative assessments.

Useful Documents Below