Merrow C of E Infant School

Phonics and Reading

Phonics and Reading Information for Parents

Programme progression overview

Little Wandle resources for parents


At Merrow we believe the development of literacy skills underpins all other areas of our curriculum. Merrow is an inclusive school, and we believe firmly that it is essential that our approach to teaching phonics and reading is accessible to all learners, regardless of background. At Merrow, we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. On September 21, we began our teaching of reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in Reception and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised Progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through the school. At Merrow, 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 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.

Because we believe teaching every child to read is so important, everyone teaches with fidelity to the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. 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.

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 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.  Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it. Formative assessment is used to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings. Summative assessment is used 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. Statutory assessment - children in Year 1 sit the Phonics Screening Check. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.

It is important to us that children who are working below age related expectations or are on the SEND register with literacy difficulties are given appropriate and timely interventions to help them ‘keep up’.  Little Wandle keep up/precision teaching sessions occur daily to ensure this. As well as specific Precision teaching sessions to support children with higher levels of need to support their reading skills. We also have a teacher and teacher assistant trained in the ‘Literacy For All’ reading intervention which focuses specifically on children’s fluency.

Parental Support

Parental support is vital in helping children with learning their phonics and to read. If you follow this link you can watch videos showing you how to pronounce the sounds as well as watch useful videos to show you how we teach tricky words, blending and a guide to alien words.

These will help you feel confident about supporting their reading at home and that you are using the same language and pronunciation that we do at school.


Teaching a child to read is vital. We believe that fostering a love of reading is vital not only to a child’s educational attainment but that reading for pleasure enriches and enhances the life of all children.

We teach children to read through reading practice sessions three times a week. These: are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups; use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised 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: 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, we continue to teach reading in this way for any children who still need to practise reading with decodable books. The decodable reading practice book is 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 value reading as a crucial life skill, we encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose. We read a variety of high-quality texts to the children daily. Every class has an inviting book corner with well-chosen books that capture the children’s imagination and encourages a love for reading. This is a place for children to browse the best books, revisit the ones that the teacher has read to them, and borrow books to read or retell at home. The school library is also made available for classes to use. Children across the school have regular opportunities to engage with a wide range of Reading for Pleasure events such as book fairs, our bedtime story evening, and World Book Day celebrations.

At Merrow, we recognise the importance of talk, of accurate assessment, and of building a love of stories and reading. Fluency and enjoyment are the result of careful teaching and frequent practice. Language comprehension and composition are developed by talking, listening to and talking about stories, and by learning poetry and songs. Our children experience a language rich environment through careful, deliberate planning in each area of learning, with opportunities built in for plenty of repetition. Our children also experience the joy of reading a wide range of stories, poems, rhymes & non-fiction texts that inspire them, reflects their experiences, offers them insights into others’ experiences and broaden their experiences beyond the immediate and the local as well as open windows into other worlds and cultures.

  • Progress through a carefully structured phonics programme at the start of their reading journey
  • Love reading in all aspects of learning
  • Read a range of classic and modern literature
  • Learn about the author’s use of vocabulary, structure and language features to create an impact on the reader
  • Deepen their understanding of reading through effective questioning and analysis
  • Widen and broaden their experiences of the world through books that reflect different cultures and experiences outside their own

At Merrow we are developing a Literature Spine of high-quality, core texts for the children in each year group. Our intention is ensuring all children at the school are exposed to the very best fiction that has been written; enabling them to experience the intrinsic sense of joy that reading can bring, as well as developing their knowledge of the world. It is to be viewed as their core entitlement – and, as such, is non-negotiable. We are involved in detailed discussions with different stakeholders with the titles selected carefully considered - not just for their quality as stories or poems - but also in terms of how they can support the children’s understanding of the subjects covered in the school’s knowledge-rich curriculum. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list. Rather, it is the bare minimum, and our aspiration is that children will use it as a launch pad for their own journeys as life-long readers; where the pure love of reading will ensure that it forms part of their daily routines for the rest of their lives.