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Phonics and Reading

At South Parade Primary School, we recognise that reading is the most fundamental skill that children need to learn. Reading is an essential skill for participation in all areas of life. Our core aim is for children to become confident and independent readers who gain not only understanding, but also real pleasure from the reading activities and texts they engage with. Reading is not born….

Here is what our children say about reading (Pupil View):


The National Curriculum states:
“All pupils must be encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum. Reading widely and often increases pupils’ vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.” (National Curriculum 2014)


At South Parade we have a reading spine with themed texts for each half -term, including a selection of texts for each year group across school. For our KS2 pupils these reading for pleasure texts are also explored further in guided reading sessions. 


How is Reading systematically taught at South Parade Primary School?

Reception & Year 1

Our Early Reading programme is Little Wandle. 


Phonics (reading and spelling)

At South Parade Primary School we strongly believe that every child can become a fluent reader and writer. This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme (SSP). We start teaching phonics in Reception 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 as quickly as possible and then to spell accurately as they move through school. For more details on the progression of Little Wandle Letters and Sounds, please click here.



At South Parade Primary we see reading as a crucial life skill. By the time children leave us, they read confidently for meaning and read for pleasure, equipped with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary. Our early readers are taught comprehension skills from the very beginning during their group reading sessions. 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 Team who drive the early reading programme in our school and ensure that everyone teaches with fidelity to the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. All of our KS2 staff are trained in Little Wandle Letters and Sounds so that the programme can continue through school when needed and so there is a full understanding of previous learning. We also use the Little Wandle SEND programme for identifier EHCP pupils. 


Implementation (Early Reading)

Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1

  • We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. 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 Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.


Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read

Any child who needs additional practice has Keep-up Support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match 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 timetable phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 or 3 who is not fully fluent at reading. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. 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 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps.


Teaching reading: Reading sessions three times a week

  • 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 children
    • use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids
    • 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 3. 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. These pupils also take wordless books home. 
  • In Years 2 and 3, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books, as well as any other KS2 children who are on a personalised curriculum.


Home Reading

The decodable reading practice book is taken home to ensure success is shared with the family. Reading records are provided for parents to record their home reading with their child, comments on strengths and weaknesses and so that teachers can see how much reading is taking place at home. Follow up discussions on home reading are held at Parents Evening meetings.

Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to children in year 2 and above.

We use 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 early in the year. 


Ensuring consistency and pace of progress

  • Every teacher and teaching assistant in our school has been trained to teach reading, using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme, 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 training sessions at 10:15 on a Monday help support all staff delivering the programme.
  • Lesson templates, Prompt cards and How to videos ensure teachers all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson. This supports less confident members of staff and those newer to the school.
  • The Reading Team and SLT use monitoring grids to regularly monitor and observe teaching; they use the summative data to identify children who need additional support and gaps in learning.



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 Keep-up 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 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 Keep-up support that they need.


Statutory assessment

Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics Screening Check in June. Any child not passing 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 where needed.


Further Phonics and Early Reading resources for parents

How to say the sounds:

How we teach tricky words, blending and alien words

Below is a narrated video presentation explaining our approach to Early Reading and Phonics.



Reading in Year 2

When children have completed the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds reading books and fluency assessment (typically by the end of Year 1), they move onto book band colours, which then continue through to Year 6.


In Year 2, guided reading is timetabled weekly up to three times a week. Shared reading takes place daily across the curriculum and there are almost daily opportunities for independent reading.

  • Children who require extra reading practice have one to one reading with the teacher or TA at least once a week.
  • Story time is daily, with children encouraged to share their ideas and opinions on the class story through Book Talk.
  • Colour banded books are sent home at least twice a week with opportunities for parents to hear their child read and comment in the reading record book.
    Every classroom is equipped with a well-stocked book corner, including a range of picture books, poetry and longer chapter books.


Reading in KS2

As they begin KS2 in Year 3, most pupils are increasingly secure in their decoding and so the teaching of reading is now directed towards developing their vocabulary and the breadth and depth of their reading, making sure that they become independent, fluent and enthusiastic readers who read widely and frequently. However, those children who do need further development of their decoding skills will continue on the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds programme, as previously detailed, whilst still receiving exposure to the whole class reading texts through story time and whole class reading.

Moving through into Years 5 and 6, we expect that all pupils are able to read aloud age-appropriate interest book level texts with accuracy and at a reasonable speaking pace. They should be able to read most words effortlessly and to work out how to pronounce unfamiliar written words with increasing automaticity. At this age, children are encouraged to read silently, with good understanding, inferring the meanings of unfamiliar words, and then discuss what they have read in partners, groups and as a whole class. Story time still plays an important role in Years 5 and 6, alongside book talk.

By the time children leave us, we strongly aim for every child to be a sufficiently fluent, effortless reader, ready to manage the general reading demands of the curriculum in Year 7, across all subjects and not just in English. We also intend that they leave us with a love of literature, a wide reading experience behind them and many fond memories of the books studied during their primary years at South Parade Primary, which they may one day wish to share themselves.


Whole Class Reading

Whole Class reading is timetabled for three times a week in KS2 and focuses on important skills for comprehension. Pupils use reading strategies to help develop their reading comprehension skills.

Explain: Discussing vocabulary in context and discussing understanding of whole texts
Retrieve: Finding Information in the text
Interpret: Inference skills (with an emphasis on using evidence)
Choice: Focus on author’s choice of words and layout.



Each session focuses on a key skill using our reading dogs and school reading approach and ensure the teachers can model approaches to finding answers within texts and explaining processes. Children are encouraged to try a range of techniques when forming meaning from texts such as:

  • Making connections
  • Thinking-aloud
  • Visualisation
  • Predicting
  • Questioning and question-making
  • Summarising
  • Seeking clarification
  • Robust vocabulary instruction


In these sessions, the children cover a wide range of materials such as :

  • Class novels
  • Short stories
  • Non-fiction related to other curriculum areas
  • Text from websites
  • Comics
  • Poems
  • Song lyrics
  • Pictures and photos
  • Newspapers
  • Biographies


Home Reading in KS2

Children continue on through the book bands, choosing their own book within this band to ensure engagement and interest. Any children who find it difficult to choose their own texts are assisted by staff and peer recommendations (found out through class surveys).


Children’s progress in reading is reviewed by their teacher on a regular basis and book bands changed to reflect this progress. Teachers listen to children read during whole class reading and other curriculum subjects to assess fluency, prosody and pace, as well as one-to-one where needed. Alongside this, children in KS2 complete summative assessments three times a year and these results are analysed to inform next steps in teaching. 

Reading records for children in Year 3 & 4 are used to comment on reading progress but also to communicate and encourage reading at home

Reading record for children in Year 5 & 6 are to keep a record of their personal reading and for parents listening to reading at home. Reading at home habits are discussed and reviewed at Parents Evening meeting or more regularly as required.


Reading for Pleasure

We have a clear progression map across school to ensure that pupils are exposed to high quality texts from quality authors.

See below:


We spend time with our pupils sharing our own reading habits and those of our children so we can identify popular texts and themes for our pupils. These are on offer in our book area… we want our children to entice, choose and enjoy the books on offer. 

Reading Progression - Whole School - Reading Dogs Approach

South Parade Reading Spine

Mrs Hedges' Recommended Reads

Our Reading Team on World Book Day!