At Brooke Primary Academy the validated phonics scheme that we follow is ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’. This is a systematic, synthetic phonics programme that was validated by the Department for Education in July 2021. All members of teaching and teaching support staff have completed training modules provided by Little Wandle to ensure a whole school understanding of the approach. As a result, the programme is followed with consistency across the school.
Phonics is a way of teaching pupils to read quickly and skilfully. It is essential that our approach to teaching phonics and reading is accessible to all pupils, regardless of background.
They are taught how to:
- recognise the sounds that each individual letter represents;
- identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make – such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’; and
- blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word.
Pupils can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.
We teach phonics daily in the Reception and Year 1. Phonics is taught from the first day in recaption. By following Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised we are able to ensure our pupils build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.
As part of this approach we use Collins Big Cat for Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised phonically decodable books that have been specially designed to match the teaching and learning of the phonics programme. These books are carefully and precisely matched to the child’s secure phonic level to ensure a reading fluency level. This automaticity allows the child to then focus on what they are reading and their understanding of what they have read. These books are read in school three times before they are shared at home with parents and carers.
Any pupil who needs additional practice has daily keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up sessions match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures and resources, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every pupil secures their learning.
We timetable daily phonics lessons for pupils in Year 2 who are not fully fluent in reading, have gaps in their phonic knowledge or have not passed the Phonics Screening Check (taken at the end of Year 1). These pupils 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. If any pupil in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least three times a week.