At Whiteheath Infant and Nursery school, we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in Nursery and once the children move into Reception, we follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.
At Whiteheath, we value reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children leave us, they read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure. Our readers are equipped with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose.
We read to the children every day. We choose these books carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the children at Whiteheath School and our local community as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures. Every classroom has an inviting book corner that encourages a love for reading and in Nursery and Reception, the children have access to the reading corner every day in their free flow time. The school library is made available for classes to use at protected times. Children across the school have regular opportunities to engage with a wide range of Reading for Pleasure events (book fairs, author visits and workshops, national events etc).
Foundations for phonics in Nursery
We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and language’ and ‘Literacy’. These include sharing high-quality stories and poems, learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes and planning activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending. 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
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. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers. Children make a strong start in Reception: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term. We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress.
Daily phonics lessons in Year 2
We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day following the Letters and Sounds programme (Phase 6) which focusses on grammar. If needed, Year 1 Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised is revisited in order to close the gap and build the children’s confidence.
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, use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge and 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 phonics screening test is a short, simple assessment to make sure that all pupils have learned phonic decoding to an appropriate standard by the age of 6. All year 1 pupils in maintained schools must complete the check.
The phonics check will help teachers identify the children who need extra help so they can receive the support they need to improve their reading skills. These children will then be able to retake the check in year 2.
The check comprises a list of 40 words and non-words which the child will read one-to-one with a teacher.