Barnett Wood Infant School

Reading at Barnett Wood



At Barnett Wood we are passionate about ensuring that all children become confident and enthusiastic readers, and so writers, and we believe that Phonics provides the foundation in supporting children to develop these skills in order for this to be achieved.


In 2022 we began to follow the government validated systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP) known as ‘Little Wandle: Letters & Sounds Revised’. The programme is designed to teach children to read from Reception to Year 2, using the skill of decoding and blending sounds together to form words. The Little Wandle programme provides a full progression through all commonly occurring GPCs (‘grapheme-phoneme correspondences’ or sounds), working from simple to more complex, and taking into account the frequency of their occurrence in the most commonly encountered words.


We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression starting from Reception, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through the school. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. Once the children complete the final phase of the Little Wandle programme (Phase 5) they move onto our colour-banded reading scheme.


At Barnett Wood we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We also have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.


The teaching of Phonics is fast-paced, and we encourage all children to actively participate in each lesson, and by encouraging the children to take ownership of their learning we are continuously striving for excellence. We ensure that we provide all children with the fundamental skills that will enable them to be confident and fluent readers.

It is our aim to ensure that all pupils:


  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage.


Reading and writing are essential life skills and staff at Barnett Wood are dedicated to enabling our children to become enthused, engaged and successful lifelong readers and writers.

To support this, we have implemented the following:

In Reception 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.


Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1

We teach phonics for up to 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.


Daily Phonics lessons in Year 2

In the Autumn Term we teach phonics for up to 30 minutes a day with an emphasis on revising Phase 5 from Year 1 Summer Term planning. Children who complete the Phase 5 Phonics Programme fully then move on to daily spelling sessions following the National Curriculum expectations. We currently use ‘Purple Mash’ resources to support our learning and teaching of spelling strategies, rules and conventions.


Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read

Our assessment procedures for Phonics and Early Reading are rigorous. We assess the children’s phonic knowledge every six weeks and any child who needs additional practice has regular 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. Children may be supported to keep up in a small group or one-to-one, depending on the level of need.


Teaching reading

Reading practice sessions happen three times a week in Reception and Key Stage 1. These sessions are taught by a fully trained adult (either the class teacher or LSA) to small groups of approximately six children. We use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge (Collins Big Cat, Little Wandle: Letters and Sounds Revised).


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) and comprehension (teaching children to understand the text).

After the third reading session of the week, the children take their reading book home to read with their adult. By this time they should be reading the book confidently, therefore making the home reading experience an enjoyable one where children and families can celebrate success. In this way we hope to develop a love of reading from a young age.

We ask parents to support us in our mission to make every child a successful reader by reading at home for at least ten minutes, three times per week.


Children who have completed the Little Wandle programme

Children progress through Little Wandle and will have completed the programme once they have read the Phase 5, set 5 books and completed a ‘Fluency Assessment’.  These children move on to our colour banded scheme. They start by reading ‘Pale Blue’ banded books, which are mainly Collins Big Cat, following on from Little Wandle, but with a variety of other texts added in as well.

Children read 2x per week with an adult, in a group, focussing on specific reading skills, using ‘VIPERS’.

  • vocabulary
  • inference
  • prediction
  • explanation (if appropriate – this is a KS2 reading focus)
  • retrieval
  • sequencing

Teachers use a range of texts linked to the children’s colour band.

Children who have successfully completed the Little Wandle programme will bring home a colour banded book to read with an adult at least 3x per week at home.


Teachers regularly assess against reading targets matched to the colour bands and children will progress through the bands in the following order:

In the summer term, once the majority of Year 2 pupils have completed the Little Wandle programme, children are taught whole class reading. Any children who are still progressing through the Little Wandle programme will continue to do so but join in with whole class reading whenever possible.


All children also bring home ‘Reading for Pleasure’ books, which they can share with their adult at home. This book is to enjoy sharing and children may not be able to read this themselves. They may change their reading for pleasure book as often as they like.


Additional Phonics and Reading support for vulnerable children

Children in Reception and Key Stage 1 receive additional Phonics ‘keep up’ sessions either on a 1:1 basis or in a small group. In Year 2 this is known as ‘Rapid Catch Up’, which happens in the Spring term. Any children not making the required progress are identified and supported to catch up with their peers.


The lowest attaining 20% of pupils in each class are prioritised to read with an adult in school every day.


Ensuring consistency and pace of progress

All staff have been fully trained to teach reading, and any new staff joining the school receive training as soon as they become part of the team. This is to ensure consistency across the school and fidelity to the scheme.

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, Phonics Lead and SLT use the Little Wandle audit to regularly monitor and observe teaching; they use the summative data to identify children who need additional support and gaps in learning and this is discussed in Pupil Progress Meetings.


Reading is celebrated in classrooms and around school at Barnett Wood, including in our library space ‘The Beehive’. Every classroom has an inviting reading area where children read for enjoyment at every opportunity. In addition, we enjoy celebrating World Book Day in a variety of ways each year, taking part in drama workshops and local library visits which enrich the children’s learning.

By the time children leave Barnett Wood they are competent and fluent readers who can recommend books to their peers, have a passion for reading a range of genres including poetry, and participate in discussions about books. Reading is the key to all learning and so the impact of our reading curriculum goes beyond and is embedded across the entire curriculum for our children.

 Our systematic approach to teaching Phonics at Barnett Wood, combined with our high expectations and a challenge for all ethos, has had a positive impact on the reading outcomes for all pupils. In 2022 80% of our Year 1 pupils passed the national Phonics Screening Check, compared to 75% Nationally. Those children who did not pass have all made steady progress since and are being supported through a tailored programme of Phonics, matched to their individual needs. We believe in high aspirations for our children and have predicted a 86% pass rate for the Phonics Screening Check in 2023.



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 keep-up support and weekly in the ‘review lesson’ to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of 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. Keep up assessments take place every three weeks and Rapid Catch Up every four weeks.

Assessments are scrutinised using a phonics 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 Phonics Screening Check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2 and we ensure that any pupils who need additional support receive it using the Little Wandle resources.