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Ravensworth Terrace Primary School

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Teaching Reading

Early Reading and Systematic Synthetic Phonics


Here at Ravensworth Terrace Primary School, we believe there is no greater skill that we can teach a child than how to read fluently and for enjoyment, thus opening a world of endless learning possibilities and academic success. We understand that if children have a positive start with early reading and phonics it will have endless benefits across all areas of learning. Numerous studies have shown when children learn to read at an early age, they have greater general knowledge, expand their vocabulary, become more fluent readers, develop problem solving skills, grow in self-confidence and flourish with creativity and their imagination.


At Ravensworth Terrace we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach 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 school.


The Reading Practice Book

It is essential that parents and carers understand the importance of home reading and how to support their children’s reading in a positive and enjoyable way. Investing time to develop reading relationships between home and school is crucial. We have invested heavily in providing the best quality phonics programme, approved by the DfE, to ensure that our children are given the best start on their reading journey.


You may notice a difference in the level of difficulty in the reading book that has been allocated to your child. We want reading to be an enjoyable experience, where all children see themselves as being successful readers, so it is important that the reading books match the sounds and tricky words taught. Your child should be able to read 95% of their reading book, without having to sound out words which will build reading confidence and eliminate the frustration that can happen.


Currently, we use Collins Big Cat Phonics reading books in school and the children are assessed regularly to ensure that their book closely matches their phonic knowledge. The children are given the opportunity to read the same book three times each week.

Read One – Focuses on decoding (word building and recognition)

Read Two – Focuses on reading with prosody (understanding and emphasis plus developing a storyteller voice)

Read Three – Focuses on comprehension (word choices, punctuation, asking and answering questions about a text)

The children also begin each session by looking at the GPCs (written spelling patterns), tricky words, key vocabulary and also the more unusual vocabulary featured. The children are exposed to a variety of high quality fiction and non-fiction texts, which have been specifically produced to match our teaching.


We have invested heavily in the new books and will be looking into raising funds so that paper copies of the books can be sent home. At present, the children are allocated the same book that is read in class and the teacher can monitor engagement at home. Books can be accessed through and your child’s class teacher will have previously sent out their username and password. If you do not have the details, please contact your class teacher. Your role is not to teach reading but to listen with interest and, most importantly, to encourage and praise achievement.


The Sharing/Reading for Pleasure Book

If children are to become lifelong readers, it is essential that they are encouraged to read for pleasure. The desire of wanting to read will help with the skill of reading. To help foster a love of reading, children will take a book home that they can share and enjoy with you at home. Involving the children in the choice of this book is important as these books offer a wealth of opportunities for talking about the pictures and enjoying the story. It is important to offer a variety of books, including non-fiction, so they can enjoy a range of writing. You should not expect your child to read this book independently and certainly should not try to get your child to do so. The book is for the parent/carer to read to or with the child. Again, it is good to talk about the book with your child, but important to remember that the goal is enjoyment and fostering a love of reading. Please share your favourite childhood stories and encourage your child to make links between different stories and develop an enjoyment of the works of a particular author or illustrator.


Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1


We teach phonics for approximately 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 as phonic teaching begins in Week Two 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.


Covid Response


In response to the Covid pandemic, we have used the Little Wandle assessments and teacher knowledge to identify gaps in the children’s phonic knowledge; therefore the delivery of the Little Wandle programme has been adjusted to match where the children actually are, rather than where they would normally be.

Children entering Year 2 would usually start Phase 6, which develops a variety of spelling strategies including word specific spellings e.g. see/ sea, spelling of words with prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters where necessary and the accurate spelling of words containing unusual GPCs. However, this academic year, many children in Year 1 are accessing GPCs that would usually have been firmly embedded in Reception and many children in Year 2 are accessing GPCs that would previously have been embedded in Year 1. We are committed to ensuring that all children learn to read and we focus on ‘keep-up’, rather than ‘catch-up.’


Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read


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 all children in Year 2 and provide additional teaching to any child 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. 


Supporting parents


As Covid restrictions are lifted, we will begin to offer workshops to help parents to support early reading and writing through phonics. You can also access free parent resources and short video clips on the parent section of the Little Wandle website. We have also provided links to the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme overview, letter formation mantras, capital letter information and Phase 2 information.


Key Stage 2


In KS2, we use ‘Accelerated Reader’ for the home reading book which provides children with access to a wide variety of books. By using Accelerated Reader, children are given a reading range and can independently select a book. Once the children have completed a book, they take a short online quiz which continually assesses their understanding of what they have read. The children also take the STAR reading test on a termly basis which assesses their progress and provides a new reading range for them so the variety of books available to them is continually changing. Teachers track children’s progress using the quizzes and STAR reader test. Children complete a 15miniute ‘Relaxed Read’ session each day where they can read their own choice of book and this allows staff to support and work with individual children.

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