Early Reading and Phonics

Early Reading and Phonics


At Sandbach Primary Academy we believe that for all our children to become fluent readers and writers, phonics must be taught through a systematic and structured phonics programme.

At Sandbach Primary Academy, we create inquisitive and enthusiastic learners who will become fluent readers and writers using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised to plan and provide daily engaging phonics lessons. We believe it is essential that our approach to teaching phonics and early reading is accessible to all learners, regardless of background. We want children to be confident when reading and spelling across the curriculum with high expectations of progress for all children.

In phonics, we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent a different sound, that these can be used in a variety of combinations and are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise all of the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing. Our phonics teaching starts in Nursery with the Foundations for Phonics programme, which follows a very specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies as they move through school. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover. Pupils are taught a cumulative progression of GPCs (matching a phoneme to a grapheme) that they immediately practise through oral blending, reading and spelling words, phrases and sentences, and, later on, reading fully decodable books. GPCs and words are reviewed and revised daily, weekly and across terms and years. Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised supports a mastery approach to learning, with all children learning the same content at the same time, for children with SEND following the SEND programme using a graduated approach.

At Sandbach Primary Academy, we also model these strategies in shared reading and writing both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on the development of language skills for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.


Our curriculum is designed to:

  • Create confident and competent readers with knowledge of strategies to support decoding and blending so that they are confident to tackle any unfamiliar words they read.
  • Encourage children to use key vocabulary such as phoneme, grapheme and diagraph when learning, sorting and reading new words.
  • Develop a large bank of sight words which they recognise without decoding or blending to aid the fluency of their reading.
  • Include skilful questioning to promote conceptual understanding.
  • Identify and rapidly act upon misconceptions through same day intervention.
  • Enrich and deepen the learning of those children who grasp the concept quickly before accelerating through new GPCs.
  • Review understanding: within the lesson, weekly and at regular review periods during which teacher assessment will be used to support and extend children.
  • Cover all the essentials for progression: all the phonemes of English words; correct pronunciation of the phonemes; all commonly occurring grapheme-phoneme correspondences; the correct formation of all graphemes; blending for reading; segmenting for writing; and the sequenced learning of appropriate tricky words.
  • Encourage children’s engagement through: teacher energy and enthusiasm; extensive interaction between teachers and children in lessons; generous praise and encouragement; and building on and celebrating success.


How we teach phonics:

In the nursery, children follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised ‘Foundations for Phonics’ guidance. The focus is on daily oral/aural blending and language development through high quality stories and rhymes.

In Reception and Year 1, children follow the progression within Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. Phonics is taught daily and there is a review session on a Friday.

Phonics starts in Reception in week 2 to ensure the children make a strong start.

By the end of Reception, children will have been taught up to the end of Phase 4.

By the end of Year 1, children will have been taught up to the end of Phase 5.

Reception lessons start at 10 minutes, with daily additional oral blending – increasing to 30 minutes as soon as possible.

Year 1 lessons are 30 minutes long.

Year 2 move onto Little Wandle Spelling Programme, where lessons are 30 minutes long. 

In addition, in Y2-Y6 there are planned phonic ‘Rapid Catch-up’ sessions following a set model to address specific reading/writing gaps. These are short, sharp sessions lasting 10 minutes in length and taking place at least three times a week.


Reading practice sessions:

Children across Reception and Year 1 apply their phonics knowledge by using a fully matched decodable reader in a small group reading practice session.

These sessions are 15 minutes long and happen three times a week. There are approximately 6 children in a group.

The sessions follow the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised.

The children are then allocated a fully decodable book to read at home to ensure fluency, build expression and ensure success is shared with their family.

In Reception these sessions start in week 4. Children who are not decoding do a blending lesson, following the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sound Revised.


How do we assess phonic knowledge?

In Reception and Year 1, at the end of each week, there is a review session which recaps the learning. There are also whole review weeks (pre-planned and bespoke review weeks to address gaps identified by the class teacher’s ongoing formative assessment).

Children identified in Reception and Year 1 as in danger of falling behind are immediately identified and daily ‘keep up’ sessions are put in place – sessions follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.

In Reception and Year 1, the children are assessed at the end of every half term using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker.

The children in Year 1 sit the statutory Phonics Screening Check in the summer term.

Children who do not pass the Phonics Screening Check in Y1 will re-sit this in Year 2.

Children who are in Year 2-Year 6 and need ‘Rapid Catch up’ sessions are assessed through teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as half termly summative assessments.


If you are a parent and would like more information about how to support your child with phonics at home, please follow this link to find the Reception and Year 1 overview as well as videos of the sound pronunciations, letter formation sheets and other helpful resources.




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Crewe Road, Sandbach, CW11 4NS
01270 918922