At Houghton on the Hill Primary School, we believe that reading is a fundamental right for all children as well as a life skill that can add enjoyment and depth to a child’s life. We are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers, and we believe that Phonics provides the foundation in supporting children to develop these skills in order for this to become achievable.
Our school is a Little Wandle School. We use the Little Wandle 'Letters & Sounds' resources consistently to teaching phonics and reading in EYFS and Year One, and to provide catch up and intervention for older pupils as needed.
Children are taught to read as soon as they enter Foundation Stage. We use a systematic synthetic phonics-based approach, following Little Wandle Letters and Sounds, to teach children to read from Reception to Year 1 using the skill of decoding and blending sounds together to form words. Children are taught to identify sounds in spoken words; recognise the common spellings of each phoneme (sound); blend phonemes into words for reading and segment them into phonemes for spellings.
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.
The teaching of Phonics is fast-paced, and we encourage all children to actively participate in each lesson, and by encouraging the children to take ownership of their learning, we are continuously striving for excellence.
By the time children leave Houghton on the Hill Primary School, they are competent and fluent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a passion for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books. At Houghton on the Hill Primary School, we believe that reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond and is embedded across the entire curriculum for our children.
Our systematic approach to teaching Phonics at Houghton, combined with our high expectations and a challenge for all ethos, has had a very positive impact on the reading outcomes for all pupils. In July 2022, 80% of our pupils passed the Phonics Screen (compared with 76% 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 needing Keep-up support
- weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.
Summative assessment is used:
- every half week 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.
- by SLT and scrutinised through to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.
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
Children from Foundation Stage to Year 6 are assessed through their teacher’s ongoing formative assessment.
Daily Phonics lessons in EYFS and Y1
Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term.
The Little Wandle programme ensures the following features:
- direct teaching in frequent, short bursts
- consistency of approach
- secure, systematic progression in phonics learning
- maintaining pace of learning
- providing repeated practice
- application of phonics using matched decodable books
- early identification of children at risk of falling behind, linked to the provision of effective
We timetable daily Phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 or 3 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 Collins Big Cat assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these. 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 gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 15 minutes and take place at least three times a week and are referred to as our Growing Readers Lessons. Where phonics gaps in reading/spelling have been identified, children may also have a regular online phonics session using “Nessy”. This is a tailored programme that identifies where the children’s gaps are and targets those specific areas. Details of the Nessy programme can be found here.