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Petham Primary School

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Phonics and Early Reading



At Petham Primary School, we aim to develop confident, fluent and passionate readers and writers from an early age. We believe that phonics provides the foundations upon which we can build our pupils ability to read easily, fluently and with good understanding, alongside developing a love of reading widely and often. 

We place a high value on reading as we know it 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.





Our Phonics and reading curriculum is implemented through daily sessions that follow a structured and multi-sensory approach. We use high-quality Phonics resources from Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised to deliver systematic Phonics instruction. Teachers receive regular training and professional development to ensure they have the knowledge and skills to deliver Phonics lessons effectively.

In EYFS children are introduced to Phase 2 and Phase 3 phonemes. Our children are taught to recognise the 44 sounds in the English language which we put together to form words. Some are represented by one letter, such as 't', and some by two or more, such as 'ck' in duck and 'igh' as in light. We refer to these as diagraphs and trigraphs. Once they have mastered the initial sounds the children are encouraged to match them to letters, or graphemes, then blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word. Finally, they use their knowledge of the sounds and blending skills to support their spelling. The children learn to read a list of age appropriate 'tricky' words, words which cannot be sounded out using their phonics e.g 'the'.

In Key Stage 1 the children revise the 44 sounds and learn alternative graphemes, for example 'ay' as in play and 'ou' as in cloud. Towards the end of Key Stage 1 and moving in to Key Stage 2, we teach the children important 'spelling rules' using the Little Wandle Bridge to Spelling and Spelling programmes. Combined, these enable children to make the shift from writing phonetically to spelling words accurately.  We encourage our children to take leadership and use their initiative when learning by supporting them to take responsible and proactive approach to their learning.

By using Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised from Reception to Year 2, and beyond where needed, our pupils are provided with structured phonics sessions with a clear patterns and familiar resources. This organisation means that our pupils can be engaged and focused on their learning and will be familiar with the terminology and resources we use as they move through our school. We embrace a culture of resilience in our sessions and the repetitive nature of our phonics sessions, as well as daily keep up sessions, allow our pupils to feel secure in their learning. We regularly use communication with our families to share our learning and develop a supportive network for phonics learning.

Assessment is an integral part of our Phonics and reading provision. We use a range of formative and summative assessments to monitor children's progress, identify any gaps in their learning, and adapt our teaching accordingly.

Any child who needs additional practise are quickly identified and provided with daily-keep up support, taught by a fully trained member of staff. Keep up lessons are consistent with the structure of our everyday sessions but these sessions are broken down into smaller steps with plenty of repetition so that every child secures their understanding. We also support children in KS2 with rapid catch-up sessions where needed. These sessions are carefully matched to the children's ability to ensure they are accessing age appropriate learning but at a quicker pace in order to plug any gaps they may have. This personalised approach ensures that every child receives the support they need to make progress in their reading.

The national Phonics Screening Check was introduced in 2012 to all Year 1 pupils and it is administered during the summer term. It is a short, statutory, assessment to ensure that children are making sufficient progress in the phonics skills required to read words and that they are on track to become confident, fluent readers who have a love of reading. The check consists of a list of 40 words, half are real words and half are 'nonsense' words; the nonsense words will be shown to your child with a picture of an alien. This not only makes the check a bit more fun, but provides the children with a context for the nonsense words.

At Petham we use Little Wandle Letters and Sounds to support the children's word reading and comprehension skills. Each week the children in EYFS and Year 1, and any child on our rapid catch-up program, will read with a trained adult 3 times a week. The books our pupils read are carefully matched to their latest phonics assessment to ensure they are reading at the appropriate level.

 The three reading sessions in school will cover:

1) Decoding - Introducing new vocabulary and practising segmenting and blending. 

2) Prosody - Reading with meaning and intonation. 

3) Comprehension - Understanding the text. 


Once the children have completed these reading sessions they should be 90% fluent with the text and have a good understanding of what they have read. This is when they bring their book home to celebrate how much they have achieved. 


On the days the children do not bring home a decodable book they can choose a book from our school library to bring home. We call these 'Sharing books'. In order to encourage your child to become a lifelong reader, it is important that they learn to read for pleasure. The sharing book is a book they have chosen independently to share with an adult at home. The children are not expected to read these independently but share them, discuss the pictures, enjoy the story, predict what might happen next, use different voices for the characters, explore the facts in a non-fiction book and most importantly; have fun! We also promote a culture of reading for pleasure through a well-stocked library, regular storytelling sessions, and opportunities for children to engage with a range of literature.





At Petham Primary our systematic, consistent and repetitive teaching of Phonics, ensures our pupils are prepared for the next stage of their learning as they move from Reception into Key Stage 1 and beyond. 

Assessment is regularly used to monitor our children's progress and allows us to quickly identify children needing extra support. 


Assessment for learning is used daily through teacher observation to identify children needing daily keep-up support. We also assess weekly in our Review lessons to identify gaps and address them quickly to ensure our children are becoming secure and fluent readers and writers. 

We use Little Wandle assessments at the end of each term to assess progress and identify any gaps that need to be addressed. The Heat Maps we then receive give us a very clear understanding of our pupils strengths and areas where support is needed. Any child who is accessing Daily keep-up support is assessed every 3 weeks to ensure they are making rapid progress. Our children on the Rapid Catch Up Program are assessed at the end of each unit, usually every 4 weeks, to ensure the support they are receiving is impactful. 


Our pupils in Year 1 also sit the Phonics Screening Check and any child who does not pass the check will re-sit it in Year 2 and be placed on our Rapid Catch-Up program. 

In Year 2 our pupils also access the Little Wandle Bridge to Spelling and Little Wandle spelling programmes throughout the year to continue to build upon their fluency skills whilst also introducing spelling patterns. 


Key Stage One Phonics and Reading Outcomes


Academic YearPetham Primary SchoolNational Average

Phonics Screening Check: 86%

KS1 Outcome: 87%

Phonics Screening Check: 82%

KS1 Outcome: 75%


Phonics Screening Check: 59%

KS1 Outcome: 82%

Phonics Screening Check: 75%

KS1 Outcome: 67%


Phonics Screening Check: 71%

KS1 Outcome: 65%

Phonics Screening Check: 79%

KS1 Outcome: 68%

2023-2024Phonics Screening Check: 79%Phonics Screening Check: TBA


Reading Spine 2023-2024

Supporting your child with 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.


Useful Documents for our children's parents/carers

Below you can find links to documents and videos which explain how to pronounce each phoneme and the overview of our programme.


Phase 2 Autumn 1 Pronunciation

Phase 2 Autumn 2 Pronunciation

Phase 3 Spring 1 Pronunciation