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‘Children need to learn to read as quickly as reasonably possible so they can move from learning to read, to reading to learn.’
At Dudley Wood we prioritise phonics in the Early Years and lower Key Stage One, for all pupils.
We follow a DFE approved systematic synthetic phonics scheme, Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, and have made conscious decisions regarding timetabling in order to prioritise the teaching and learning of phonics and early reading.
What is phonics and why is it important?
Phonics is a way of teaching children how to read and write. It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language.
Written language can be compared to a code, so knowing the sounds of individual letters and how those letters sound when they are combined, will help children decode words as they read. Understanding phonics will also help children know which letters to use when they are writing words.
Phonics involves matching the sounds of spoken English with individual letters or groups of letters. For example, the sound k can be spelled as c, k, ck or ch.
Teaching children to blend the sounds of letters together helps them decode unfamiliar or unknown words by sounding them out. For example, when a child is taught the sounds for the letters t, p, a and s, they can start to build up the words: “tap”, “taps”, “pat”, “pats” and “sat”.
How is phonics taught and learnt at Dudley Wood?
Little Wandle is a clearly sequenced and progressive programme. Each lesson follows the same structure, uses the same procedures, resources, and mantras to ensure the pupils are not cognitively overloaded and that their focus is on the phonics.
Repetition is key to transferring knowledge to the long-term memory and so the lessons are structured so that there is repeated practice at the point of learning and a return to practise the same elements again at intervals over an extended period.
Each lesson follows the same format - review previous sounds, learn today’s sounds, review previous tricky words, learn today’s tricky words, write a sentence. Every week, that week’s learning is reviewed on Friday.
In this first full year of scheme, the children are taught in groups according to their phonological ability. Teachers adhere to the programme which is specially designed to cover all of the phonics knowledge needed to become a reader and to meet the national standards of the Phonics Screening Check in Year 1. The premise of Little Wandle is, ‘Keep up, not catch up’, in other words all pupils should keep up with the pace of the programme, and if they do not grasp something, they will have additional, focused Keep-up sessions, immediately, to enable them to keep on track.
Foundation for Phonics in Nursery
In Nursery, the foundations for phonics are laid. We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led learning opportunities that meet the curriculum expectations for Communication & Language, and Literacy. These include:
We ensure Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme=phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.
Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1
Key Stage 1– Keep-up Support
Any child who needs additional practice has daily 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, enabling them to ‘keep-up’ with their learning.
We timetable daily phonics lessons for all children in Year 2. Those pupils who did not pass the Phonics Screening Check or who are not fully fluent at reading, have work in a smaller, focused group. 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 the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these at pace, using the Keep-up resources until Christmas, then the Rapid Catch Up programme from Christmas onwards, should they still need it.
Key Stage 2 – Rapid Catch-Up Support
If any child in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan Phonics Catch Up Lessons to address specific reading and writing gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least three times per week, and include reading practice.
SEND Graduated Approach
A small number of our children may require a different approach to in order to learn Phonics. Little Wandle SEND is a programme which mirrors the main Little Wandle phonics programme but with adaptations and support in place which make it possible to meet the needs of pupils with more complex learning needs.
Reading Practice Lessons – three times per week
The children learn phonics in order to learn to read, so Reading Practice Sessions are an integral part of the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
As well as the daily phonics lesson, the pupils will take part in a Reading Practice Lesson, 3 times per week. Pupils will read a book which is matched to their phonic ability and fully decodable, in a small adult-led group. There will be 5 adult-led groups in each class. They will read the same book in each of the 3 sessions that week; the first time will be for familiarity, the second time they read will be for prosody (intonation), and the third time, for comprehension. The pupils will read a new book each week.
So the pupils can continue to practise, and to demonstrate their phonic ability to you at home, they will bring home the book which they have read in school. We politely request that this book is returned on the following Monday. The book may also be accessed on Collins Big Cat E-Library. Each child is issued with their own username and password.
Alongside learning to read, we want to foster a love of books and reading for pleasure so in addition to their Collins Big-Cat E-Book they will bring home a book of their choice (from an appropriate selection), which they can share for their enjoyment.
We use the Home School Book in Reception and the Reading Diary in Year 1, to record and celebrate what each child reads and as a means of home/school communication.
Assessment is used to monitor progress and identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.
Assessment for learning is used
Summative assessment is used
Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised Placement Assessment is used
Ongoing assessment for Catch-Up Support