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St Thomas of Canterbury

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Reading & Phonics

Reading at St. Thomas of Canterbury is always a key priority

As soon as our children enter Nursery they have reading as a key focus and this continues throughout the school.


Since September 2023, we have been using the government validated systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP) called Little Wandle: Letters & Sounds Revised. The 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 rationale behind the scheme is as follows:

The National Curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language.

Reading underpins children’s access to the curriculum and it clearly impacts on their achievement. 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. It is essential that children are actively taught and supported to use phonics as the only approach to decoding. Other strategies must be avoided. Phonic decoding skills must be practised until children become automatic and fluent reading is established.

Fluent decoding is only one component of reading. Comprehension skills need to be taught to enable children to make sense of what they read, build on what they already know and give them a desire to want to read. Reading increases children’s vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Furthermore, children who read widely and frequently also have more secure general knowledge.

This link will take you to the Little Wandle Parent Page, where you will find more useful information about the scheme including the pronunciation of phonemes.


At St. Thomas of Canterbury, 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.  

We start teaching Phonics in Nursery (Little Wandle Foundation for Phonics) and 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. 

As a result, our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. Here at St. Thomas of Canterbury, 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. 

At St. Thomas of Canterbury, we aim to ensure that we provide all children with the fundamental skills that will enable them to be confident and fluent readers.


At St. Thomas of Canterbury, we believe that reading and writing is an essential life skill and we are dedicated to enabling our children to become enthused, engaged and successful lifelong readers and writers. To support this, we practise the ‘Little Wandle: Letters and Sounds Revised’ Phonics scheme and implement the following:

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;
  • activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending;
  • attention to high-quality language.

We ensure our Nursery pupils 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 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 week’s 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 Lessons in Year 2

In September, children will review Phase 5 GPC’s and words and will continue to practice their accuracy, prosody and fluency, when reading. It is an expectation, that all children have finished phonics by the end of the autumn term in Year 2.

reading overview guidance.pdf


Keep-up Lessons Ensure Every Child Learns to Read

Any child who needs additional practice has daily support, led by a fully trained adult. Daily support matches 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 use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the keep-up resources at pace.

If any child in Year 2 (spring term onwards) to Year 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan and deliver ‘Rapid Catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. 


Teaching Reading: Reading Practice Sessions Three Times a Week in Early Years and Key Stage 1

We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week.


  • are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of approximately 6-8 children
  • use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge (Big Cat Little Wandle: Letters and Sounds Revised)
  • 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:

  • decoding
  • prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
  • comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.

In Reception these sessions start in Week 4. Children who are not yet decoding have daily additional blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books.


Additional Phonics and Reading Support for Vulnerable Children

Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 receive additional Phonics ‘keep up’ sessions either on a 1:1 basis or in a small group. Children who are receiving additional phonics ‘keep-up’ sessions read their reading practice book to an adult, regularly.

In Years 2, we continue to teach reading in the same way as Year 1, for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books. Children across Years 3 – 6 who need additional support have regular 1:1 reading with decodable books.


Ensuring Consistency and Pace of Progress

Every member of staff in our school has been trained to teach reading, to ensure we have the same expectations of progress, across all subjects and year groups. Any member of staff, teaching phonics all:

  • use the same language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.
  • access the weekly content grid maps, highlighting each element of new learning, to each day, week and term, for the duration of the programme.
  • access lesson templates, prompt cards and 'how to' videos to ensure they all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.

The Reading Leader and SLT use the audit and prompt cards to regularly monitor and observe teaching; they use the summative data to identify children who need additional support and gaps in learning.


By the time children leave St. Thomas of Canterbury, we want them to be 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. 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.



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 daily 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 five 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 daily support that they need;
  • by SLT and scrutinised through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker, to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.

guide to reading levels.pdf



Statutory Assessment

Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics Screening Check (see below) and child who did not successfully pass the check, re-sits it in Year 2. 


Ongoing Assessment for Catch-up

Children in Year 2 to 6 are assessed through their teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as through the half-termly Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised summative assessments.

reading flowchart.pdf



Year 1 Phonics Screening Check FAQs

What is the Phonics Screening Check?

The Phonics Screening Check is a short assessment given to all children in Year 1. The test seeks to check whether children have learned to decode written words using their phonic skills to a required level.

The test is compulsory in all state schools and is given to pupils towards the end of Year 1, usually during the 2nd or 3rd week of June. If pupils have not reached the expected level, they will be tested again in Year 2.


Who will conduct the check?

A teacher who is well known to the child (but not necessarily the class teacher) will carry out the test.


What does the check involve?

The check is carried out on a one-to-one basis with each child and is administered in a quiet room to allow the children to concentrate fully. They will be asked to read 40 words aloud. Some will be simple and familiar, some more complex and there will also be a selection of ‘non’ or alien words. These are fake words that are used solely to test the child’s ability to use their phonics knowledge (rather than relying on word recognition) to break down unfamiliar words into recognisable sounds and blend them together to read the word.  Alien words are used during the test because they are new to all the children and therefore, no bias is given to children with a good vocabulary knowledge or visual memory of words

This use of decoding is an essential skill when learning to read as it gives the children confidence to tackle words they have not encountered before in a systematic and methodical way and greatly reduces the inclination to ‘guess’ what the word might be.


How long will the check take?

The check should take between 5 – 10 minutes to administer however, there is no time limit and each child will be supported to work through the words at a pace which is most suitable to their individual needs.


How will I know if my child has passed the check?

Information regarding the progress in Phonics will be available on your child's Mid-Year Reports and we will inform parents of their child’s results towards the end of the summer term, where results will be included in your child’s End of Year Report.


Parent/Carer Workshop

Each year, we hold parent/carer workshops to enable us to answer any questions that arise from the teaching of Phonics and Reading throughout the school. 

parent phonics early reading workshop.pdf

Below you will find some useful documents relating to Phonics & Early Reading.

 Workshop Documents



 Year 1

 Rapid Catch-Up & Daily Support