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Covingham Park Primary School

Phonics and Early Reading


Reading curriculum intent

At Covingham Park, reading is promoted as an intrinsic part of teaching and learning. It forms a pivotal part of our curriculum. We recognise that the skill of reading provides children with access to the world around them and a wealth of knowledge which will support their learning and development in all other areas. However, we also believe that reading brings joy and experiences that cannot be achieved in any other way; discovering new worlds, reflecting on the past and exploring emotions from the viewpoints of others who are similar and very different.

Reading curriculum implementation

Early Reading 
Children have opportunities to apply their developing phonic knowledge and skills in the context of shared reading and writing across all subjects.  We aim to give children the skills they need to decode and blend quickly and securely. Children are given fully decodable books that are closely matched to their developing knowledge of Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence and their ability to blend.  We use Collins Big Cat Phonics for Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised texts.  These reading books are closely matched to our progression document and are grouped accordingly.

Once a child has progressed through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised scheme they will read books that are banded into 5 colour groups (Turquoise, Purple, Gold, White and  Lime) These books progressively include longer sentences, wider vocabulary and more complex themes.

Reading practice sessions led by a trained teacher or trained TA take place 3 times a week. The reading practice book is carefully matched to their secure phonic knowledge, this book is used for all three sessions to avoid cognitive overload. The first session is a decoding session. GPCs, Tricky words and key vocabulary are recapped as necessary. The may include the definitions of new vocabulary.  Children then read independently and the teacher/TA 'tap in'. This means they spend time with each child listening, supporting and praising as appropriate. 

Session 2 is focussed on prosody - reading with expression and intonation. Teachers and TAs model this and then children read independently as the teacher/TA 'taps in' as before. 

Session 3 is focussed on comprehension. The reading practice book is them taken home to practice fluency, build confidence and celebrate success. 

Developing a love of reading
Children in Foundation Stage start with wordless books. We have created activities to go with each of these including cooking, crafts and story-telling to encourage an engagement with and a love for books straightaway. 

At Key Stage One and Two, children access a range of high-quality engaging texts across a range of genres. These are linked across subjects and areas of learning with teachers sharing them and modelling a range of reading strategies. 

Reading at home
Research shows that children who read daily develop reading fluency at a more rapid rate and become more confident, eloquent writers. We aspire to this for all our children and believe that the most important thing that parents can do at home to help their children achieve at school is to share books with them.

We encourage children to read daily at home with their adults and try to ensure that those who do not get a daily read at home have one in school. Within Lower School, children with 5 reads are celebrated individually in Reading Assembly and collaboratively as the winning class. In Upper School, children take part in a reading planets competition to visit each planet when a set number of reads is achieved.


Systematic synthetic phonics is a way of teaching children to read skilfully.  At Covingham Park we follow Little Wandle Letters and Sound revised, a government validated scheme. This ensures that  all resources, vocabulary and mantras used are consistent across the key stage. This helps to reduce cognitive overload.  Children in Lower School have 20 minutes of daily phonics teaching. Keep up sessions are used as necessary after the main lesson as a short, sharp intervention to stop children falling behind. Ideally this is on the same day but staffing may prevent this. 

Phonological awareness and phonic knowledge is developed as soon as children start school. The initial focus is on teaching phonemes and recognising initial sounds. The teaching of phonics begins in Foundation Stage. Each phoneme (sound) and corresponding grapheme (letter) is introduced clearly; a focus is placed on recognising these so they can then start to read words by blending  the sounds together and segmenting to spell. In addition, they learn to read by sight a range of high frequency and common exception word. This focus provides children with the skills they need to begin to read and write words, captions and whole sentences as soon as possible. They then progress on to learning combinations of letters as digraphs (two letters to make one sound) e.g. ‘ck’ ‘oo’, ‘sh’ and trigraphs (three letters to make one sound) e.g. 'igh' and ‘air’. 

Daily phonics lessons continue into KS1 as the children become more confident at applying their phonics to reading and writing. They continue to learn new graphemes for phonemes they already know  e.g. 'a' as ai/ay/a/a_e, as well as alternative pronunciations for the graphemes they already know e.g. cow/ snow.  They are also taught the Common Exception Words for Year 1 and 2 set out in the National Curriculum. From Year 2 onwards, children consolidate their knowledge and learn different spelling rules and when to apply them. Their grammar work also focusses on plurals and verb tenses. 

Great importance is given to staff, children and parents to pronounce these phonemes correctly in order for children to accurately blend and segment. The link below has some videos that may be useful. https://www.littlewandlelettersandsounds.org.uk/resources/for-parents

Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised Programme Overview
Introduction to Little Wandle for Parents - 28.9.22

Phonics screening check

By the end of Year 1, the children are ready to take their Phonics Screening Check. This consists of 20 real and 20 pseudo (nonsense) words. Children use their decoding skills to read these. Children who do not meet the required standard in Year 1 will re-take this again in Year 2.