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Milstead and Frinsted

Church of England Primary

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Little Wandle

Phonics at Milstead & Frinsted



At Milstead Primary School, we aim to develop confident, fluent and passionate readers and writers from an early age. We believe that phonics provides the foundations upon which we can build our pupils ability to read easily, fluently and with good understanding, alongside developing a love of reading widely and often. 

We place a high value on reading as we know it underpins children's access to the curriculum and it clearly impacts on their achievement. There is considerable research to show that children who enjoy reading and choose to read benefit not only academically, but also socially and emotionally. To be able to read, children need to be taught an efficient strategy to decode words. That strategy is phonics. It is essential that children are actively taught and supported to use phonics as the only approach to decoding. Other strategies must be avoided. Phonic decoding skills must be practised until children become automatic and fluent reading is established.



At Milstead we use Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised where our youngest children are taught the essential skills and knowledge needed for later reading and writing.


In EYFS children are introduced to Phase 2 and Phase 3 phonemes. Our children are taught to recognise the 44 sounds in the English language which we put together to form words. Some are represented by one letter, such as 't', and some by two or more, such as 'ck' in duck and 'igh' as in light. We refer to these as diagraphs and trigraphs. Once they have mastered the initial sounds the children are encouraged to match them to letters, then blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word. Finally, they use their knowledge of the sounds and blending skills to support their spelling. The children learn to read a list of age appropriate 'tricky' words, words which cannot be sounded out using their phonics e.g 'the'.

In Key Stage 1 the children revise the 44 sounds and learn alternative graphemes, for example 'ay' as in play and 'ou' as in cloud. Towards the end of Key Stage 1 and moving in to Key Stage 2, we teach the children important 'spelling rules'. This enables children to make the shift from writing phonetically to spelling words accurately.


Any child who needs additional practise are quickly identified and provided with daily-keep up support, taught by a fully trained member of staff. Keep up lessons are consistent with the structure of our everyday sessions but these sessions are broken down into smaller steps with plenty of repetition so that every child secures their understanding. We also support children in KS2 with rapid catch-up sessions where needed. These sessions are carefully matched to the children's ability to ensure they are accessing age appropriate learning but at a quicker pace in order to plug any gaps they may have. 


The national Phonics Screening Check was introduced in 2012 to all Year 1 pupils and it is administered during the summer term. It is a short, statutory, assessment to ensure that children are making sufficient progress in the phonics skills required to read words and that they are on track to become confident, fluent readers who have a love of reading. The check consists of a list of 40 words, half are real words and half are 'nonsense' words; the nonsense words will be shown to your child with a picture of an alien. This not only makes the check a bit more fun, but provides the children with a context for the nonsense words.



At Milstead we use Little Wandle Letters and Sounds to support the children's word reading and comprehension skills. Each week the children in EYFS and Year 1, and any child on our rapid catch-up program, will read with a trained adult 3 times a week. The books our pupils read are carefully matched to their latest phonics assessment to ensure they are reading at the appropriate level.


The three reading sessions in school will cover:

1) Decoding - Introducing new vocabulary and practising segmenting and blending. 

2) Prosody - Reading with meaning and intonation. 

3) Comprehension - Understanding the text. 


Once the children has completed these reading sessions they should be 90% fluent with the text and have a good understanding of what they have read. This is when they bring their book home to celebrate how much they have achieved. 


On the days the children do not bring home a decodable book they can choose a book from our school library to bring home. We call these 'Sharing books'. In order to encourage your child to become a lifelong reader, it is important that they learn to read for pleasure. The sharing book is a book they have chosen independently to share with an adult at home. The children are not expected to read these independently but share them, discuss the pictures, enjoy the story, predict what might happen next, use different voices for the characters, explore the facts in a non-fiction book and most importantly; have fun!



At Milstead Primary our systematic, consistent and repetitive teaching of Phonics, ensures our pupils are prepared for the next stage of their learning as they move from Reception into Key Stage 1 and beyond. 

Assessment is regularly used to monitor our children's progress and allows us to quickly identify children needing extra support. 


Assessment for learning is used daily through teacher observation to identify children needing daily keep-up support. We also assess weekly in our Review lessons to identify gaps and address them quickly to ensure our children are becoming secure and fluent readers and writers. 

We use Little Wandle assessments at the end of each term to assess progress and identify any gaps that need to be addressed. The Heat Maps we then receive give us a very clear understanding of our pupils strengths and areas where support is needed. Any child who is accessing Daily keep-up support is assessed every 3 weeks to ensure they are making rapid progress. Our children on the Rapid Catch Up Program are assessed at the end of each unit, usually every 4 weeks, to ensure the support they are receiving is impactful. 


Our pupils in Year 1 also sit the Phonics Screening Check and any child who does not pass the check will re-sit it in Year 2 and be placed on our Rapid Catch-Up program.