‘Reading is dreaming with your eyes open’

At Priors Hall, we love reading! Reading is the gateway to knowledge and as such, we prioritise teaching our children the reading skills they need to succeed in all areas of their learning. Our pupils reading learning journey begins in Nursery and Reception, where our pupils are immersed in creative knowledge rich environments rooted in the quality texts they share daily. From Year 1 to Year 6, our pupils enjoy dedicated Whole School Reading Lessons, which focus on using reading VIPERS for the explicit teaching of the core reading skills; Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation and Sequencing/Summarising. As a school, we aim to provide our pupils with the knowledge, skills and experience to read broadly for not only academic success but for pure pleasure.

Phonics and Early Reading

At Priors Hall – a learning community, we have a clear, consistent, whole school approach to the teaching of phonics and early reading, delivered through the ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ scheme. Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ is a DFE fully validated approach. It supports children’s awareness of aural discrimination, phonemic awareness and rhyme. Adoption of this scheme ensures that we provide a fully systematic and sequential approach to developing the skills needed for early reading. ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ ensures that our teaching supports children in developing their understanding of using the alphabetic code for reading and spelling, ranging from simple to complex words. This consistent delivery of the knowledge and skills needed for early reading is facilitated for our learners as their early reading skills develop. It encourages independent reading and spelling, through repetition and consolidation. Using this approach, spelling becomes automatic as children learn to segment words to spell and blend words to read. Children’s interactions with adults, across the curriculum, are rich in ambitious language and rhyme. This language rich environment for children ensures that they are immersed in literature and spoken word that broadens their vocabulary and understanding of reading, talking and writing. Spoken word and rhyme throughout all learning opportunities, when combined with daily, discrete and sequential teaching of phonics, ensures that our children develop confidence and can apply these skills to their own purposeful reading and writing in a range of contexts. We understand that high quality teaching of phonics, combined with consistent exposure to engaging stories and print, is the key to developing independent readers who demonstrate a ‘love of reading’. We strive for every Priors Hall child to be ‘a reader’, with an understanding of the opportunities that reading provides, and a love of stories and print.

Foundations for phonics in Nursery

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:

  • sharing high-quality stories and poems
  • learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
  • activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
  • attention to high-quality language.

We have an experienced Teacher and team of staff in Nursery who are trained in ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ progression, to ensure that Nursery children are well prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.

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. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers. Children make a strong start in Reception and teaching begins in Week 2 of the Autumn term. The ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’ progression document ensures that

  • 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.

Daily keep-up lessons – Every Child as a Reader. Any child who needs additional practise has daily ‘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.

Phonics beyond Y1

We timetable phonics lessons for any child in Year 2, 3 and 4 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. 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 5 or 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading, they will have a tailored approach to support their development in reading, exploring and understanding their barriers and challenges to fluency. This may be a combination of ‘Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised’, and ‘Action Words’, that offer a different approach to secure knowledge when reading.