Phonics and Early Reading

letters sounds.jpg

At St Martin’s we follow the Little Wandle Systematic Synthetic Phonics Programme. More information can be found in our phonics policy or on the Little Wandle website-

Learning to be a successful and fluent reader is a complex, multi-faceted process and children need to master a wide range of different skills as illustrated by Scarborough’s Reading Rope below. At first these skills are taught separately but as children move through school and these skills get practised and embedded they are woven together which makes for a strong reading rope and a fluent and successful reader.


From Nursery to the end of Year 1, there is an increased emphasis on teaching the skills on the lower half of the rope.  This is delivered through daily phonics lessons. These lessons would not be successful without being complemented and underpinned by a strong foundation of the whole host of vital pre-requisite skills needed for children to become successfully literate. In the Early Years we invest time in developing these skills through songs and rhymes, poetry, talk and stories.  Daily phonics session continued in the first term of Year 2.  At this point children then move towards whole class guided reading sessions, based on a 'Talk 4 Reading' approach.

Addional Support in Phonics

Children will all take a different path on their journey to becoming readers and many will need some extra support at different points to help them on their way.

  • Any child who needs additional practice has daily Little Wandle 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. 
  • Those children who do not pass the phonics screening at the end of Year 1 are closely monitored as they enter Year 2 and are provided with focused Little Wandle intervention sessions alongside their class phonics teaching until they are able to pass the screening test. If this has not been achieved by the end of the autumn term, children will enter the Little Wandle 'Rapid Catch-Up' programme aimed at those children still not secure having completed the full Little Wandle programme.
  • If any child in Year 2 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge, they will also complete Little Wandle 'Rapid Catch Up' sessions phonics to address specific reading needs.  All of these children are closely monitored and assessments are made every half term which inform next steps for interventions.


Please see the document ‘Skills Progression in the EYFS’ for more information. 

As you walk around our setting you will see how the activities and learning environment promote the prerequisite skills needed for reading and writing. Some of these include:-

Listening and responding to spoken language

Spoken language, and the ability to listen carefully and respond, underpins all teaching and learning, including phonics. 

Physical activity that supports sensory awareness and integrationread1.jpg

Physical development is integral to learning. Children need to develop a range of physical skills to be able to engage effectively in learning, including being able to sit still and focus. This includes, balance and proprioception, crossing the midline, and sensory awareness and integration. Our children have free access to the outdoors and daily opportunites to promote motor skills and activities to help develop the vestibular system.

Meta-linguistic awareness

To access phonics teaching with success, children need to be able to think and talk about language. They need to become aware of language as an object that is composed of words and meanings that can be examined, discussed and manipulated. This is achieved through dissection and discussion of our ‘5 a day’ key texts and poetry.

Visual Perception, Visual Processing and Visual Working memoryread2.jpg

There are many facets to this area and it is through seemingly simple yet vitally important activities that these skills are developed.


  •  doing jigsaw puzzles
  • playing card games such as Pairs and snap
  • playing memory games like Kim’s game
  • doing sorting and matching activities

Open Ended Play/ Deconstructed role playread3.jpg

We intentionally provide lots of open ended play resources and materials that children can use in whichever way their imagination takes them. This means that language opportunities are also opened up and no ceiling or limitations are put on play and talk possibilities. 

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