Phonics and Early Reading
At St Agatha’s 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 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, children can tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At St Agatha’s School, we also model the application of the alphabetic code 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.
Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
• We teach phonics 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 become fluent readers.
Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read
• Any child who needs additional practice has ‘Keep-Up’ support, taught by a trained adult. Keep-up lessons have smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
• If any child in Year 2 or beyond have gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address the specific gaps.
Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week
• We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week.
• Each reading practice session has a clear focus. 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.
• These reading practice sessions continue into Year 1 and Year 2.
• Every half-term from the end of Autumn 1 in Reception, children’s phonic knowledge is assessed, including their ability to sound and blend words with sounds they have learnt.
• These assessments help us match your child to a decodable reading book that they are able to read successfully.
We value reading for pleasure highly and work hard as a school to ensure that children at St Agatha’s School develop a love of reading. Children are able to borrow books from our inviting school library. These are carefully selected to reflect the children at St Agatha’s and our community as well as books that open windows to other worlds and cultures. We value the books that children enjoy at home and the younger children are encouraged to bring their personal favourites into school to share with the class.
We value input and collaboration with parents to ensure that all children have both the skill and the will to read. We know that parents are an invaluable resource in ensuring children experience success with reading. We run early reading workshops and invite parents to learn more about supporting reading at home, as children begin their reading journey.
Reading Practice Book
• The reading practice e-book is for your child to read to you to practise their developing reading skills.
• They have already read this book at school and the teacher will have checked the book is at the correct level.
• This book should be fully decodable for your child. After the earlier stages of learning in Reception, they should read most words ‘at a glance’ and just a few by ‘sounding and blending’.
• Once the children have read a book in school, an e-book version is sent home, so that you can celebrate your child’s achievements.
• Your child should be able to read this book without any significant help.
• Reading this book until your child is reading all the words ‘at a glance’ will help your child to build a bank of words in their visual memory.
• To encourage lifelong reading, it is essential children read for pleasure!
• The sharing book is a book for enjoyment.
• This is a book for you to read to your child, instead of a book that they attempt to read.
• These books offer opportunities to talk about the pictures and enjoy the story.
• The sharing book can be changed weekly.
Resources for Parents
Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised have resources which show you the sounds your child will be learning and the sequence they will be learning them in. You can find Resources for Parents here.
Below, there are videos which you can use to help support you and your child to pronounce the sounds they are taught correctly. Correct pronunciation is key for your child to be able to successfully blend sounds together and read words: