English: Early Reading and Phonics


We aim for our children to be avid readers who can read fluently, for both information and pleasure. At Pentland we understand that reading is a balance between mastering the ability to decode fluently, whilst also developing vocabulary and understanding. It is our intent that all children will be able to read fluently and develop a love of reading during their time at our school. Reading not only provides our children with the development of an essential life skill, but also enables children to access a world of possibilities, creativity and imagination. We provide our children with the skills they need to be fluent readers, but also with an appreciation of different genres and clear opinions on texts they have read or shared. We know that story time is a vital part of this process and is a highly valued part of our school day.  



We believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers, which is why we teach phonics and reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised. We start teaching Phase One in Nursery. This is then reviewed and continued in Reception, where children continue to follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds progression. This ensures they build their own growing code of knowledge of the alphabetic code, and also master phonics to read and spell as they move through school. As a result, our children are able to tackle any unfamilar words they read. 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.

At Pentland, we value reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children leave us at the end of Year Two, they  read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure. Our readers are equipped with the  tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both  pleasure and purpose. Because we believe teaching every child to read is so important, we have a Reading Leader who drives the early reading programme in our school. This person is highly skilled at teaching phonics and reading, and  they monitor and support staff, so everyone teaches with fidelity to the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.



Teaching Phonics:??We use ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ as our Systematic Synthetic Phonics programme.? This programme is followed with consistency and fidelity throughout our school by all teachers and teaching assistants.? Children in Nursery also have short daily phonics activities, building on the Little Wandle Foundations for Phonics. Discrete, daily whole-class phonics lessons are taught to all children by the class teacher in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2. Flashcards and additional reading opportunities continue throughout the day to reinforce prior learning.? Children who have not yet grasped the fundamentals of the phonics that has been taught or require additional input, will take part in a daily, targeted ‘Keep Up’ program led by a familiar teaching assistant.? Phonics remains the main strategy that we use to approach and decode unfamiliar words and spelling across our school.? It is our aim to teach all children to read, regardless of their background.  


Reading Practice:?From the beginning of Reception we encourage our children to blend, orally at first and then by looking at the word.? Once the children have mastered the basics of this skill, a decodable reading book is sent home that matches their phonic ability.? In Reception through to Year Two, each child will take part in three sessions of small group reading each week. Each session will focus either on decoding,?reading with prosody?or comprehension. Children will keep the same phonetically decodable text and take this home at the end of the week, to celebrate their reading success with parents. The reading books we have are part of the Collins Big Cat Phonics for Letters and Sounds, which are aligned with Little Wandle. In Year Two, it is the expectation that children who have passed the Phonics Screening Check and have secure and fluent phonic knowledge, that they will move onto reading other texts from different reading schemes e.g. Rising Stars: Reading Planet, Bug Club


Love of Reading: Alongside our decodable books, each child will take home a reading book from the school library, to read with their family. Dedicated time each week is spent selecting this book and talking about our book choices, which further embeds the love of reading within our pupils. Reading areas are prioritised within school, and each classroom has a designated reading area. Storytimes take place daily within each class. This is protected time within the timetable.



Individual phonics assessments are completed for all children using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Assessment Tool every 6 weeks (i.e. usually at the end of a half term). Class teachers carry out the assessment and then use this information to support children in moving forwards.? Children who are identified at risk of falling behind are targeted in a Keep Up programme and are assessed every 3 weeks to ensure the gap is closing.? The Keep Up programme used is the one suggested by Little Wandle, no additional package is used.? Continuous formative assessment is carried out during lessons and this is used to inform any further same day intervention or catch up. 

Reading is monitored and moderated between staff and the reading leader, to ensure pupils are reading with 90% fluency. 


Please see our policy on reading and phonics below for more information.


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