Early Reading/Phonics

Early Reading Lead - Miss MacKenzie

Hello, I am Miss MacKenzie and I have the pleasure of being the Early Reading lead here at Holy Trinity. I have a real passion for phonics and value its importance in developing our children’s reading skills that will unlock a lifetime of reading. Reading is crucial to access the rest of the curriculum, and to experience the enjoyment that delving into a book can provide. Furthermore, phonics unpins the understanding and skills for spelling and writing. It fills me with happiness and pride to aid children in their reading journey and witness their confidence grow as they begin to read individual words, to sentences to whole books. 

My favourite story is Giraffe's Can't Dance.


Curriculum Intent - This is what we want the children to learn.

At Holy Trinity, we believe that high quality consistent teaching of phonics and early reading will grow a love of reading and provide all children with the ability to become fluent readers. Reading is a vital skill that is core to widening accessibility to many other areas of the curriculum and life. A strong foundation in reading in primary school can empower and encourage a child.

Our curriculum is literacy-rich and provides a plethora of opportunities to read and write in a range of contexts for different purposes whilst also celebrating our diversity.

A dedicated interactive area for reading (Media Merge Room), support a growing love for reading regardless of pupils’ social and economic circumstances, ethnicities, first language and/or special educational needs and disabilities. Across the curriculum pupils are offered opportunities to read independently, with or be read to by an adult and enjoy reading with prosody to bring a text to life which will enable all to flourish.

Curriculum Implementation - This is how we will do it.

We use Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised to plan and provide daily engaging phonics lessons. 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 the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing. Through the Little Wandle programme, phonics is taught in a specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies as they move through school.


Daily Phonics Lessons

• We follow the progression within Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. Phonics is taught for between 20-30 minutes daily and there is a review session on a Friday to consolidate learning.

• Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and Phase 3 Grapheme Phoneme Correspondences (GPCs) and apply learning to read Phase 4 words with fluency and accuracy. Phase 2 encompasses most common single letter sounds in words containing constant-vowel-constant (CVC words). Phase 3 includes the rest of the single letter sounds, plus sounds made up of two letters and three letters. Phase 4 gets children to apply their learning so far to longer words with adjacent consonants.

• Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 (see above for information) and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 Grapheme Phoneme Correspondences (GPCs) with fluency and accuracy. Phase 5 introduces alternative spellings for sounds learnt.

• In Years 2 and 3, phonic lessons are taught daily to children where appropriate – following the model of Little Wandle but plugging specific gaps identified through assessment.


Daily Keep-up Lessons

Termly assessments and constant in lesson assessment allows for the quick identification of children needing same day intervention to ensure the pace of progression for all children:

• Any child who is identified from the lesson or from assessments as needing additional practice has daily small group or individual 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.


Rapid Catch Up

Rapid Catch Up is a part of the Little Wandle programme for children that have not passed the Phonics Screening Check in Year 1. This is a daily phonics lesson for any child in Year 2 and above.  We use the Little Wandle assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Catch Up resources.

Reading Practice Sessions

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 Little Wandle’s assessments and book matching grids.

• 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:

1. decoding

2. prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression

3. comprehension: teaching children to understand the text.

In Years 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

• Children take the same book home from their in-school reading session to give an opportunity for further practise and develop fluency.

• Children also take a reading for pleasure book home for parents to share, read to, and enjoy with their children.


Ensuring Consistency and Pace of Progress

• Every adult in our school has been trained to teach phonics and 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 reduce 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 adults all provide a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.

• The Reading Leader and Senior Leadership Team (SLT) use the Little Wandle’s progression sheet and prompt cards to regularly monitor and observe teaching.

Curriculum Impact - This is how we measure it.


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 same day Keep-up support.

• weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of Grapheme Phoneme Correspondences (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.

• by SLT and scrutinised through the Little Wandle’s assessment tracker, to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place.


Statutory Assessment

• Children in Year 1 sit the statutory Phonics Screening Check.

• Any child not passing the check re-takes it in Year 2.


Ongoing Assessment for Catch-Up

Children in Years 2 to 6 are assessed through their teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as through the placement and half-termly summative assessments.

We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised to plan and provide daily engaging phonics lessons. 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 as soon as the children start in Nursery and 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, we aim that all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover. 

Please follow this link to see the phonics programme overview for years R and 1.



Parental engagement

At Holy Trinity, we recognise the importance of work in partnership with parents. This is highlighted by the regular opportunities the English and Phonics Team offer to the parents and carers.

These include:

  • Parental Workshops
  • Open Classrooms

Future Engagement Opportunities

  • Parent Phonics Workshop – Tuesday 8th November, 2022
  • Parent Phonics Workshop) – Tuesday 10th January, 2023
  • Parent Mathematics Workshop) – Tuesday 21st March, 2023


Further help and FAQs

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.


How are phonics taught to my child?

Children will have discrete phonics teaching input daily by teachers and support staff available and utilised for smaller group work as necessary. The sessions last between ten and twenty minutes. There will also be constant and enhanced activities within the environment available for children to explore independently throughout the day in the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Our Phonics Policy below will contain more detail.

What terms do I need to know to support my child?

The language for teaching phonics is specific. Here is a glossary of some common terms, if you have any specific questions please contact you teacher or our phonics lead - Miss. MacKenzie.

Phonics is the knowledge of how alphabetic sounds work and how these sounds are combined to correspond to the spoken word.

It includes the skills of blending for reading and segmentation for spelling.

  • Blending is the skill of building words by merging phonemes together – this is used when reading words.
  • Segmentation is breaking down a word into its component phonemes –this is used when spelling words.
  • Phonemes are the smallest unit of sound in a word. It is generally accepted that there are different phonemes in the English language.
  • Graphemes are the written symbol of a phoneme.
  • Digraphs are phonemes written with two letters
  • Trigraphs are phonemes written with three letters
  • Split digraphs are two letters that make one sound, but the letters are not adjacent in a word (they are split by another letter e.g. i_e as in time).
  • High Frequency Words are the most commonly used words in the English language and if children can master these.
  • Alien words are made up words to test children’s ability to blend.

What is the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check?

At the end of Year 1 there is a statutory phonics check which takes place in June.  Children in Year 2 who did not meet the expected standard in the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check, will be re-assessed in Year 2.

To support children’s progress in Year 1 towards the required standard for the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check children are assessed periodically throughout the year using previous years’ test materials.

This is a test of children’s ability to blend and read using the 44 phonemes. They are asked to read a series of real and nonsense or ‘alien’ words.

How can I support my child at home?

This link provides videos to support parents’ understanding of phonics, frequently asked questions about the Year 1 phonics screening and audio clips of how to pronounce each of the 44 phonemes (sounds).

These links are to games and activities parents can use with their children to support their phonic learning in school:

Where else can I get information?

Please feel free to contact either our Early Reading Lead Teacher - Miss. MacKenzie or make an appointment to speak with your child's class teacher.


Get in Touch

Holy Trinity C. of E. Primary School
Trinity Road, Gravesend, Kent,
DA12 1LU

01474 534746