There is considerable research to show that children who enjoy reading and choose to read benefit not only academically, but also socially and emotionally. To be able to read, children need to be taught an efficient strategy to decode words. That strategy is phonics and at St Joseph’s we have chosen to follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
Children are actively taught and supported to use phonics as the only approach to decoding. Phonic decoding skills are practised until children become automatic and fluent reading is established. Phonic sessions take place daily in Year R and Year 1. We teach phonics for 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. In Year R and Year 1, each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers.
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. 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.
Children are given regular opportunities to apply the phonics they have learned to reading fully decodable books. The phonic progression in these books exactly matches the progression of Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised. Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. Reading practice sessions take place three times a week and books are then sent home with children so that they can continue to develop their fluency at home. An electronic reading record is kept on Class Dojo so that adults reading with children at home and at school are in regular communication.