John of Rolleston Primary School

Phonics and early reading statement here at John of Rolleston Primary School    


 The context of our school:

Here at John of Rolleston Primary School, it is essential that our approach to teaching phonics and reading is accessible to all learners, regardless of background.



Phonics (reading and spelling):

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 Reception EYFS 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, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At John of Rolleston Primary School, 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.


Why learning to read is so important:

  • Reading is essential for all subject areas and improves life chances.
  • Positive attitudes to reading and choosing to read have academic, social and emotional benefits for children.


How children learn to read:

  • Phonics is the only route to decoding.
  • Learning to say the phonic sounds.
  • By blending phonic sounds to read words.
  • Increasing the child’s fluency in reading sounds, words and books.


Reading fully decodable books:

  • Children must read books consistent with their phonic knowledge.
  • It is essential not to use other strategies to work out words (including guessing words, deducing meaning from pictures, grammar, context clues or whole word recognition).  
  • Books mustbe fully decodable and follow the Little Wandle scheme
  • Children need to read books in a progressive sequence until they can decode unfamiliar words confidently.


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 at 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:

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:

  • o sharing high-quality stories and poems
  • o learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
  • o activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
  • o attention to high-quality language.
  • o We ensure that children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.

Daily phonics lessons in Reception EYFS and Year 1:

  • We teach phonics lessons for 30 minutes a day. In Reception EYFS, we build from 10-20-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 EYFS: teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term.
  • We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress:
    • o 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.
    • o 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 who needs additional practice has daily support with an adult. These lessons use smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
  • We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 and above 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.


Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week:

  • We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week. These:
    • o are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups of children
    • o use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids.
  • 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:
    • o decoding: the ability to apply your knowledge of letter-sound relationships, including knowledge of letter patterns, to correctly pronounce written words.
    • o prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
    • o comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.
  • In Reception EYFS, 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.
  • In Year 2, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.


Home reading:

  • The decodable reading practice book read in school that week is set via an e-book for the child to read at home to ensure success is shared with the family. Children should be reading with 95% accuracy at this point.
    • o Another decodable physical book goes home with children in their book bag weekly.
    • o Free choice reading books also go home for parents to share and read to children. Much reading research states the importance and impact of sharing quality children’s books with parents.
    • o We signpost the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised parents’ resources to engage our families and share information about phonics, the benefits of sharing books, how children learn to blend and other aspects of our provision, both online and through workshops.


Ensuring consistency and pace of progress:

  • Every teacher in our school has been trained to teach reading the Little Wandle way, so we have the same expectations of progress. We all use the same language and mantra, 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 Reading Leader and SLT regularly monitor and observe teaching; they use the summative data to identify children who need additional support and 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 value reading for pleasure highly and work hard as a school to grow our Reading for Pleasure pedagogy. We do this by:

  • We read to 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 John of Rolleston Primary 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. We curate these books and talk about them to entice children to read a wide range of books.
  • In Reception EYFS, children have access to the reading corner every day in their free flow time and the books are continually refreshed.
  • In some year groups, pupils will have an individual reading record. The parent/carer records comments on a regular basis at least three times weekly to ensure communication between home and school to share with the adults in school.
  • As the children progress through the school, they are encouraged to write their own comments and keep a list of the books/authors that they have read.




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


  • Assessment for learning is used:
    • o daily within class to identify children needing additional support
    • o weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.


  • Summative assessment for Reception EYFS and Year 1 is used:
    • o every six 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 support that they need.
    • o 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.


  • Fluency assessments measure children’s accuracy and reading speed in short one-minute assessments. They are used:
  • o in Year 1, when children are reading the Phase 5 set 3, 4 and 5 books
  • o to assess when children are ready to exit their programme. For Year 1 children, this is when they read the final fluency assessment at 60–70+ words per minute. At these levels, children should have sufficient fluency to tackle any book at age-related expectations. After exiting their programme, children do not need to ready any more fully decodable books.


  • A placement assessment is used:
    • o with any child new to the school in Reception EYFS and Year 1 to quickly identify any gaps in their phonic knowledge and plan and provide appropriate extra teaching.


Statutory assessment:

  • Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics screening check in the week commencing Monday 12 June 2023. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.


The role of Parents’ and Carers’ in reading:

Although your child will be taught to read at school, you can have a huge impact on their reading journey by continuing their practice at home. This can be by:

  • Having a positive impact on your child’s reading.
  • Modelling the importance of reading practice to develop fluency.
  • Encouraging your child to re-read at home to build fluency.
  • Encourage a love of books, along with developing vocabulary and discussion.
  • Using voices, expression, discuss unfamiliar vocabulary, talk about the pictures, and predict what might happen next.
  • Giving positive yet informative feedback in home reading diaries at least 3 times a week.