Phonics and Early Reading
Our aspiration for every learner
At Guru Nanak Sikh Academy, we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. We believe that Phonics provides the foundation in supporting children to develop these skills in order for this to become achievable.
We use the government validated systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP) ‘Little Wandle: Letters and Sounds Revised’. This programme is designed to teach children to read from Reception to Year 2, using the skill of decoding and blending sounds together to form words. The Little Wandle programme provides a full progression through all commonly occurring GPCs (sounds), working from simple to more complex, taking into account the frequency of their occurrence in the most commonly encountered words.
The teaching of phonics is fast paced, and we encourage all children to actively participate in each lesson, and by encouraging children to take ownership of their learning we are continuously striving for excellence. At Guru Nanak Sikh Academy we ensure that we provide all children with the fundamental skills that will enable them to be confident and fluent readers.
How we support our pupils to acquire this learning:
Daily Phonics Lessons in Reception and Year 1:
We teach phonics for up to 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 weeks teaching to help children become fluent readers.
- Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 3 of the Autumn term.
- We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds revised expectations of progress.
- Children in Reception 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 Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.
Daily Phonics in Year 2:
In the Autumn Term we teach phonics for up to 30 minutes a day with an emphasis on revising Phase 5 from Year 1 Summer Term Planning. Children who complete the Phase 5 Phonics Programme fully move on to ‘Steps to Read’ which is in line with what is taught across KS2.
Daily keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read:
Any child who needs additional practice has regular keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition so that every child secures their learning.
We timetable regular Phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 - 6 who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics Screening Check. These children 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 gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Rapid catch up programme.
Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three time a week in EYFS and KS1:
We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week.
- These are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately six children
- They use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge (Big Cat Little Wandle: Letters and Sounds Revised)
- These are monitored by the class teacher who rotates and works with each group on a regular basis.
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:
- Prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
- Comprehension: teaching children to understand the text
Children who are not yet decoding have additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books.
Ensuring consistency and pace of progress:
- Every teacher and LSA in our school has been trained to teach reading using the Little Wandle programme.
- We all use the same language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.
- Weekly content grids map each element of new learning to each day, week and term for the duration of the programme.
- Lesson templates, prompt cards and how to videos ensure teachers all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.
- The reading leader and SLT regularly monitor and observe teaching: they use the summative data to identify children who need additional support and gaps in learning and this is discussed in Pupil Progress Meetings.
How we measure our achievements:
Our systematic approach to teaching Phonics at Guru Nanak Sikh Academy, combined with our high expectations has had a positive impact on the reading outcomes for all pupils. In 2022, 95% of our Year 1 pupils passed the national Phonics Screening Check, compared to 75% Nationally.
Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.
Assessment for learning is used:
- Daily within class to identify children needed keep-up support.
- Weekly in the review lesson to assess gaps, address them immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.
Summative assessment is used:
Every six weeks to assess progress, to identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed, to identify any children needing additional support and to plan the keep-up support that they need.
Children in year 1 sit the Phonics Screening Check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.
Ongoing assessment for catch up:
Those children in Years 2 to 6 who are part of the rapid catch up programme are assessed within the programme every 4 weeks.