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Thorner C of E

Primary School

Proud to be a part of the Elevate Multi Academy Trust

0113 2892541

Kirkhills, Thorner, Leeds LS14 3JD

Mrs G. Whawell - Headteacher

An inspirational place to learn and play, helping us make the most of everyday “All things are possible to those who believe.” (Mark 9:23)

Phonics and Early Reading


Phonics is the foundation stone for reading and for lifelong learning. Children need to learn to read as quickly as reasonably possible, so they can move from learning to read to reading to learn. At Thorner C of E Primary, all staff have the highest expectation that all our children will become fluent readers and writers at the end of year 1 through the implementation of our chosen phonics programme, Little Wandle Letters and Sounds.



The intent behind our phonics approach is to:

  • Deliver high-quality phonics, following Little Wandle Letters and Sounds programme with consistency, rigour and fidelity to the scheme, so that children consistently use phonics as the route to reading unknown words.
  • Maintain the pace and progression of the programme for children to become fluent, independent readers by the end of year 1.
  • Ensure children’s reading books show a cumulative progression in phonics knowledge that match the grapheme-phoneme correspondences they know to support decoding skills.  
  • Ensure children have a positive view of reading and see themselves as both readers for pleasure and purpose.
  • Encourage learners to be independent, resilient and have a stamina for reading.
  • Ensure our approach to teaching phonics and reading is accessible to all learners, regardless of background.




Phonics is implemented through a high quality systematic synthetic phonics programme of proven effectiveness, Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised.

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: 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.
  • The lessons are always taught at a fast pace to ensure children are highly engaged for the sessions.


Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read

  • Any child who needs additional practice 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.
  • We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 or 3 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 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least three times a week.


Teaching reading: Reading practice 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 approximately six children
    • use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids on pages 11–20 of ‘Application of phonics to reading’
    • 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 4. 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.
  • In Year 2 and 3, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books.


Home reading

  • Decodable reading practice books are taken home to ensure success is shared with the family.
  • Reading for pleasure books also go home for parents to share and read to children.
  • We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised parents’ resources to share information about phonics, the benefits of sharing books, how children learn to blend and other aspects of our provision with our families and hold reception and year 1 phonics workshops.


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.


Ensuring 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 value reading for pleasure highly and work hard as a school to grow our Reading for Pleasure pedagogy.

  • We read to children every day. We choose books and poems carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the children at Thorner C of E 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. We curate these books and talk about them to entice children to read a wide range of books. These books included both fiction and non-fiction texts and are enhanced with books relating to our whole school themes.
  • In Reception, children have access to the reading corner every day in their free flow time and the books are added to and refreshed based on the children’s interests and books we have read as a class.
  • We also have a reading shed for children to use as part of outdoor provision.
  • 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.
  • Children in reception take part in daily ‘we love to read sessions’ with a focus on comprehension and vocabulary development. These session progress to whole class reading sessions from year 1 to 6.




The impact of our consistent and systematic teaching of our phonics programme is that children become fluent readers by the end of KS1. We measure the impact of our phonics approach through assessment.



  • Teachers assess within the class daily to identify which pupils need Keep-up support.
  • Summative assessment is used every six weeks to assess progress and identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed.
  • The Little Wandle placement assessment is used to assess new pupils or pupils in KS2 requiring additional support.
  • Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics screening check. Any pupils that did not pass are closely monitored and re-sit the test in Year 2.


Senior leaders in school complete phonics learning walks and drop-ins termly which show effective teaching of phonics.


Please see the link below for a free training session for parents to support their children to deliver a love of reading. This free event is designed to support primary school parents.

Raising a Reader: Top Tips for Parents to Foster a Love of Reading: Free Training - Dandelion Learning

Please see the progression overview for phonics at Thorner: