Phonics and early reading

At Malmesbury CE Primary School, we believe that for children to become fluent readers and writers, phonics should be taught through a systematic and structured phonics programme. In September this year, we embarked on our new adventure with Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised as our chosen scheme for early reading.

Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised provides us the planning so we can deliver daily engaging phonics lessons. The daily lessons all follow the same sequence with a revisit and review of previously taught Grapheme Phoneme Correspondances (GPCs), words and tricky words. This follows into the teaching of the new GPC, oral blending, new words and tricky words. Any new words the children are taught, they will be given the meaning of these words. The lesson ends with a practise and apply section where they will read or write a sentence and complete some spelling words. This will give our children the confidence to be able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover.

How we teach Phonics and Early Reading

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. 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:

  • Children in EYFS 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.
  • Children in Year 2 will review gaps with the children in the Autumn term before continuing with the Year 2 spelling curriculum.

Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week

We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week, which are taught by fully trained staff to small groups of approximately six children. They use books that have been matched to their secure phonic knowledge. This is monitored by the class teacher, who rotates the groups and adults on a regular basis throughout the term. These books will be referred to as their ‘Reading Practice’ book.

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:

  • Decoding and vocabulary
  • Prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
  • Comprehension: teaching children to understand the text

In the EYFS 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.

In Years 1 and 2, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.

Reading practice book

This book will be carefully matched to your child’s current reading level. Your child will bring this home on Friday so you can enjoy listening to your child over the weekend. Your child will probably read it requiring only a little help or no help. Please don’t worry that it’s too easy – your child needs to develop fluency and confidence in reading. When listening to them read the book, remember to give them lots of praise – celebrate their success! They would have had three opportunities to read this book throughout the week at school. If they do come across a challenging word, read it to them. After they have finished, talk about the book together.

Sharing book

We want our children to become lifelong readers so we visit the school library once a week, where they have an opportunity to choose a book that they would like to read. It is important that they learn to read for pleasure. The sharing book is a book they have chosen for you to enjoy together; your child isn’t expected to read this book alone. Read it to or with them. Discuss the pictures, enjoy the story, predict what might happen next, use different voices for the characters, and explore the facts in a non-fiction book. The main thing is that you have fun!

Reading for Pleasure

We want the joy of reading to grow beyond the lessons as the enjoyment of books and stories should be shared throughout their day at school.

At Malmesbury CE Primary School, we timetable story time for the children so they can experience the joy and pleasure of reading. This allows children’s minds to escape to different places, even down a rabbit hole to meet new characters that are relatable, or learn about a culture that is different to their own. It’s an opportunity to learn new vocabulary that can be magpied (used) in their writing and learn about emotions and empathy that can be used in their daily lives.

Our aim is for ALL children to be encouraged to ‘Read for Pleasure’ and become a frequent reader that chooses to read. There are various studies that show a link between reading for pleasure and higher academic achievement.

The following links have been uploaded from the website to give you book recommendations. The website has more information and recommendations for reading and especially about ‘Reading for Pleasure’.

Storytime Reading

The QR codes and links in the document lead to story readings on YouTube and all of the books we’ve chosen are read aloud by their fabulous authors and illustrators.

Further information

If you would like more information about how to support your child with phonics at home, please click the button to find the Reception and Year 1 overview as well as videos of the sound pronunciations, letter formation sheets and other helpful resources.