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Phonics & Early Reading

At South Molton Community Primary School we believe that early reading and phonics is a key life skill and an integral part of the whole school curriculum, underpinning all aspects of learning. We endeavour to promote the enjoyment and love of reading for all children. By ensuring every child is an enthusiastic, confident, and engaged reader, we aim for each individual child to achieve their learning potential. We encourage children to have an inquisitive attitude to reading, demonstrating their abilities to ask questions and gain in depth understanding of the text read.




Reading is a significant skill required for children to achieve in all aspects of learning and academic success and is taught with a holistic approach across the school curriculum. Reading is critical to developing vocabulary and oracy skills. Such opportunities are extended in our outdoor learning that forms a significant part of a child’s education at South Molton Community Primary School. Outdoor learning stimulates the imagination, bringing subjects to life in a real context and having a huge impact on children’s self-esteem and confidence by providing alternative inspiring environments for reading outside or encouraging the use of books for research purposes.


Staff are dedicated to advocating the prominence and pleasure of reading by immersing children in stories through shared reading (both individual and whole class) and encouraging discussion around books. We are keen for parents to also become involved and support their child’s reading. By letting your child see you read, having fun with words, rhymes and poems, reading together and encouraging children to observe that words are all around us, parents and carers can also promote gratification from reading.


Whilst early reading is explicitly taught through phonics, it is also cohesively interwoven into all aspects of learning across the school curriculum. This all-inclusive approach allows a range of texts genres to be explored and expands cross curricular links. From Reception, Phonics is taught following the Little Wandle Revised Letters and Sounds Programme.


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 the full-length lesson as quickly as possible, including a review of 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.

● Daily keep up lessons ensure every child learns to read.

● 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.


Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week

We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week using books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge. 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.


Home reading

The decodable reading practice book is taken home to ensure success is shared with the family. It is essential to children’s progress that families understand the benefits of sharing books, how children learn to blend and other aspects of our provision, both online and through workshops. Please visit this link for more information on reading with your child:


Additional reading support for vulnerable children

Children in Reception and Year 1 who are receiving additional phonics Keep-up sessions read their reading practice book to an adult daily.


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 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.


Nurturing a culture of 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 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 South Molton Community 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.

  • In Reception, children have access to the reading corner every day in their continuous provision and the books are continually refreshed.

  • Children from Reception onwards have a home reading record. The parent/carer records comments to share with the adults in school and the adults will write in this on a regular basis to ensure communication between home and 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.

  • Each class visits the newly developed library.

  • The school library is made available for classes to use at protected times. It must be booked via the school booking system. 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)




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.


The Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised placement assessment is used with any child new to the school to quickly identify any gaps in their phonic knowledge and provide appropriate extra teaching.


Statutory assessment

Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics screening check. 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

  • the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds placement assessment

  • the appropriate half-termly assessments

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