Reading and Phonics
At Houghton Conquest Lower School we believe that for all our children to become fluent readers and writers, phonics must be taught through a systematic and structured phonics programme.
We want every student to experience enjoyment in reading for pleasure and the wonderment of discovering new worlds, bigger dreams and exciting facts about the world around them.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss
We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised to plan and provide daily engaging phonics lessons. In phonics, we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent a different sound, that these can be used in a variety of combinations and are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise all of the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing. Our phonics teaching starts in our Preschool and follows a very specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies as they move through school. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover. At Houghton we also model these strategies in shared reading and writing both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on the development of language skills for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
How we teach phonics
- In the preschool, children follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised ‘Foundations for Phonics’ guidance. The focus is on daily oral blending and language development through high quality stories and rhymes.
- In reception and Y1, children follow the progression within Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. Phonics is taught daily and there is a review session on a Friday.
- Phonics starts in reception in week 2 to ensure the children make a strong start.
- By the end of reception, children will have been taught up to the end of phase 4.
- By the end of year 1, children will have been taught up to the end of phase 5.
- Reception lessons start at 10 minutes, with daily additional oral blending – increasing to 30 minutes as soon as possible.
- Y1 lessons are 30 minutes long.
- In Y2-Y3, phonic lessons are taught daily to children where appropriate – following the model of Little Wandle but plugging specific gaps identified through assessment.
- In Y2-Y4 there are planned phonic ‘catch-up’ sessions following a set model to address specific reading/writing gaps. These are short, sharp sessions lasting 10 minutes in length and taking place at least three times a week.
Reading practice sessions
- Children across reception and year 1 (and beyond if appropriate) apply their phonics knowledge by using a full matched decodable reader in a small group reading practice session.
- These sessions are 15 minutes long and happen three times a week. There are approximately 6 children in a group.
- The sessions follow the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised.
- The children then take the same book home the following week to ensure success is shared with the family.
- In reception these sessions start in week 4. Children who are not decoding, do a little blending lesson, following the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sound Revised.
- From Year 2 onwards, Guided Reading and comprehension session take place: We teach sessions which focus on developing pupils’ level of fluency understanding of the text, through discussion, written and oral tasks; and the exploration of new vocabulary. Pupils will be taught to retrieve, infer, predict, summarise, analyse and evaluate texts. Pupils explore vocabulary, prediction, sequencing, making inferences and retrieving information, ensuring that they are able to make justified responses using evidence from the text. Pupils explore a wide range of high quality fiction and non-fiction texts in their lessons, which are based around age appropriate texts linked to the topic being studied.
- In all years, we promote reading across the curriculum. We maximise opportunities for pupils to read texts within other areas of the curriculum. These lessons focus on the teaching of reading whilst increasing the pupils’ knowledge and understanding of the topics being taught in History and Geography etc.
- We promote independent reading in all classes too. Once pupils have completed the Little Wandle reading scheme and have achieved the expected standard at phonics screening we use a variety of reading schemes to further their reading skills including Oxford reading tree, Ginn and Rigby star, etc. From this point we have a clear reading progression system that runs through the school and pupils are assessed half termly on their reading level to ensure that they are reading the most appropriate books. Teachers talk to the children regularly about their strengths and areas of development, and communicate with parents via children’s reading records. Reluctant readers, or those pupils who struggle with reading are continue to follow the Little Wandle reading programme every day to ensure that they make expected progress.
- We have high expectations for reading outside of school and celebrate success through our reading reward scheme ‘Have you read at home 3 times this week?’ We encourage a love of reading by taking part in national and local reading celebrations e.g. World Book Day and the Library Service Summer Reading Challenge.
- Library skills are taught in all classes and the children are given opportunities to use our well stocked library in the log cabin at our school.
Guided Reading – VIPERS
From Year 1 onwards, Guided Reading and comprehension sessions take place: We teach sessions which focus on developing pupils’ level of fluency understanding of the text, through discussion, written and oral tasks; and the exploration of new vocabulary. Pupils will be taught to retrieve, infer, predict, summarise, analyse and evaluate texts. Pupils explore vocabulary, prediction, sequencing, making inferences and retrieving information, ensuring that they are able to make justified responses using evidence from the text. Children are taught all these specific skills through VIPERS. VIPERS stands for: Vocabulary, Inference, Predict, Explain, Retrieve and Sequence of Summarise. Pupils explore a wide range of high quality fiction and non-fiction texts in their lessons, which are based around age appropriate texts linked to the topic being studied.
How do we assess phonic knowledge?
Through the teaching of systematic phonics, our aim is for children to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. This way, children can focus on developing their fluency and comprehension as they move through the school.
- In reception and year 1, at the end of each week there is a review session which recaps the learning. There are also whole review weeks (pre-planned and bespoke review weeks to address gaps identified by the class teacher’s ongoing formative assessment).
- Children identified in reception and Y1 as in danger of falling behind are immediately identified and daily ‘keep up’ sessions are put in place – sessions follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
- In reception and year 1, the children are assessed at the end of every half term using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker.
- The children in Y1 sit the Phonics Screening Check in the summer term.
- Children who do not pass the Phonics Screening Check in Y1, will re-sit this in Y2.
- Children who are in Y2-Y4 and need ‘catch up’ sessions are assessed through teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as half termly summative assessments.
Little Wandle Reading books progression including phonics focus
Little Wandle Programme Progression – Reception and Year 1 Overviews
Little Wandle Phonics Glossary
Reading – Progression of Skills
Online Phonics Lessons – https://lettersandsounds.org.uk/index.php?page=overview
How we say our sounds – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTe5_Em0BHQ&t=2s
Guide to Tricky Words – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQmtOXbf3-0
Parent Support – https://www.littlewandlelettersandsounds.org.uk/resources/for-parents/