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Our Phonics Scheme

Phonics and early reading policy



Phonics (reading and spelling)

At Whitehouse Community Primary School, we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers.


From September 2024, we will teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching Little Wandle Foundations in our Nursery and then, from 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.


As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At Whitehouse, 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.



At Whitehouse, 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.


Because we believe teaching every child to read is so important, we have a Reading Leader who drives the early reading programme in our school. This person is highly skilled in teaching phonics and reading, and they monitor and support our reading team, so everyone teaches with fidelity to the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.



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 Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.


  • Little Wandle Foundations is aligned to the non-statutory guidance on Development Matters and Birth to 5 Matters as well as the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework. We use it as part of our wider provision for Communication and Language, and Literacy. It supports children to:
    • develop their phonological awareness, including rhyme, alliteration, syllables, initial and voice sounds, and oral blending
    • love stories and rhymes, and learn by heart a bank of familiar favourites
    • increase their vocabulary and confidence to talk
    • improve their listening and ability to take part in back-and-forth conversations.
  • We believe that the priority in Nursery should be to build the foundations for phonics for all children. Research tells us that disadvantaged children start Nursery behind their more fortunate peers. By leaving formal phonics teaching to Reception, Foundations allows us to devote more time to working with children who need extra help to develop the skills and behaviours that underpin successful reading.


Language and nursery rhymes in Reception

  • Research tells us that nursery rhymes can support children to develop their language, their awareness of sounds within words and even their later reading (Bryant et al. 1989).
  • We use the Little Wandle Rhyme time films and accompanying phonological awareness planning to complement and reinforce our Phase 2 teaching.


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 full-length lessons 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:
    • 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 Phases 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.


Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read

  • Any child in Reception and Year 1 who needs additional practice has Daily Keep-up support and is taught by a fully trained adult.
  • Daily Keep-up lessons follow the Little Wandle progression and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition so that every child secures their learning.


Daily phonics and spelling in Year 2

  • Year 2 begins by using assessment to ensure that children have completed the Little Wandle Year 1 progression. Any gaps in teaching are addressed through daily phonics lessons until the programme is completed. Corresponding summative assessments are carried out to ensure this content is secure.
  • Once all the  Year 1 content has been taught and assessed, we teach a five-week Phase 5 review. This ensures that children secure the trickier elements of Phase 5 and can apply this alphabetic knowledge in both reading and spelling.
  • We use the Phase 5 review assessment before teaching in Year 2 to identify any children who may need more support when teaching. We reassess after teaching the Phase 5 review.
  • Children with larger gaps in their phonic knowledge than their peers have daily phonics teaching and follow the Rapid Catch-up programme.



Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week

  • We teach 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 using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids on pages 11 to 20 of ‘Application of phonics to reading’
    • 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: teaching children to use phonic knowledge to read words
    • prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
    • comprehension: using dialogic talk to help children to understand the text.


  • In Reception, these sessions start in Week 4 of teaching at the latest. Initially, children will read wordless books. In these sessions, children review GPCS and are taught blending using teacher-led blending. Once children can blend, they progress onto decodable books matched to their secure phonic knowledge.


  • Children read each book three times to develop phonemic awareness, vocabulary and comprehension as well as book behaviours.


  • In Year 2, we ensure children complete reading the core programme decodable books (up to Phase 5 Set 5). To exit the programme, we complete the final fluency assessment to ensure children can read with adequate speed and accuracy: approximately 60 words per minute with 90%+ accuracy.


Home reading

  • The decodable reading practice book is taken home to ensure success is shared with the family.


  • Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to children. We share the research behind the importance and impact of sharing quality children’s books with parents through workshops, leaflets and the Everybody read! resources.



Additional reading support for vulnerable children

  • Children in Reception and Year 1 who are receiving additional phonics Daily Keep-up sessions read their reading practice book regularly to an adult in school.
  • We prioritise children who may not have reading support at home or who may not have access to books. We ensure that they have individual reading times with volunteers and staff to share quality children’s literature to promote a love of reading.


Ensuring consistency and pace of progress

  • Every teacher in our school has been trained to teach reading, so we have the same expectations of progress. We all use the same language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.
  • Weekly content grids map each element of new learning to each day, week and term for the duration of the programme.
  • Lesson templates, prompt cards and ‘How to’ videos ensure teachers all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.
  • The Phonics Leader use checklists and templates to regularly monitor and observe teaching; they use the summative data to identify children who need additional support and have gaps in learning.


Ensuring reading for pleasure

‘Reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s success’ (OECD 2002).

‘The will influences the skill and vice versa’ (OECD 2010).


We highly value reading for pleasure and work hard as a school to grow our reading for pleasure pedagogy.


  • We read aloud to children every day. We choose these books carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including those that reflect the children at Whitehouse 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. We curate these books and talk about them to entice children to read a wide range of books.
  • In Nursery/Reception, children have access to the reading corner every day in their free-flow time and the books are continually refreshed.
  • Children choose from our range of carefully chosen books to take home and share with an adult. We keep a record of the children’s choices, so we get to know them as readers.
  • As children progress through school, we take time to get to know them as readers and ensure that we engage in meaningful conversations about the books that they have read. By doing this we can recommend authors and genres of books to expand their interests.
  • Each class visits the local library every half term.
  • 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).
  • We use the Everybody read! resources to grow our teachers’ knowledge of current books, the most recent research and to grow our own Reading for Pleasure practice.




Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.


  • Assessment for Learning (AfL) is used:
    • daily within class to identify children who require Daily Keep-up support, as well as words and GPCs that need additional teaching
    • to plan repeated practice throughout the day to ensure all children secure learning
    • weekly in the Friday review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.


  • Summative assessments are uploaded onto the Assessments tracker for Reception and Year 1. These are used:
    • to generate visual reports (pupil heatmaps, pupil trends and books levels, and a summary analysis) for individual children, classes and whole year groups
    • by teachers, Reading Leaders and SLT who drill down and look at the data at GPC, word, tricky word and sentence level
    • by SLT to scrutinise and plan how to narrow the attainment gaps between different groups of children and to put in place any additional support for teachers.


We assess:

    • every six weeks to assess progress and to identify gaps in learning that need to be reviewed or retaught
    • to establish if learning is secure for more than 70% of children before new content is taught
    • to identify any children needing additional support and to plan the Keep-up support that they need


We reassess every three weeks every child who is not on track.


Statutory assessment

  • Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics Screening Check.
  • Any child not passing the check resits it in Year 2