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Bishop Ellis Catholic

Voluntary Academy

I have come that you may have life - life in all its fullness (John 10:10)

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Phonics at Bishop Ellis

At Bishop Ellis, we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. 

This is why we will teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP).


We beginning teaching phonics in Reception and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised Progression (see link below), which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to blend for reading and segment for spelling as they move through school. 


Children continue their Little Wandle journey in Year 1, whereby they 'Grow the Code' and learn that there are graphemes that have different sounds. We continue to give children the opportunity to practice blending for reading and segmenting for spelling including these new graphemes. 


Throughout Reception and Year 1, children are regularly assessed and become part of regular individual or group 'keep up' sessions to provide more repeated practice where necessary to ensure that the alphabetic code is embedded and applied.


Tricky Words

Although almost all words can be decoded using the alphabetic code, there are a few words with unusual spellings which children need to read and write a lot. We call these Tricky Words. Through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, we teach the reading and spelling of tricky words in order of frequency (see the progression document below). Where there are unusual spellings, we ensure we teach what makes the words tricky. For example: in 'was' the a makes an /o/ sound and the s makes a /z/ sound.


We strive to support our children to become confident and fluent readers by the end of year 1 and as a result, all of our children will be able to tackle familiar and unfamiliar words as they read. 

The Year 1 statutory Phonics Screening Check 

At the end of year 1, children undertake the phonics screening check. This is a statutory requirement of all children in England. It is done on a 1:1 basis with your child’s teacher or a familiar adult in school. The check is made up of 40 real and nonsense words which children read using their knowledge of phase 2-5 sounds. The check is designed to give both teachers and parents information about how your child is progressing in phonics. The pass mark is set every year nationally and is usually around 32 correct answers out of 40. If children do not pass, do not worry, the children will receive more support during year 2 and will re-take the check the following year. 


Year 2 and above. 

Children from Advent 2 term in year 2 to year 6 will have at least 3 discrete spelling lessons a week which will cover the national curriculum spelling rules. All children will be given discrete lessons to support their understanding of spelling rules as well as covering the common exception words. Children who need to continue with discrete phonics sessions will continue to do so.

Little Wandle Parent Portal

Reading through the Little Wandle programme

Through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, children are part of regular (3 x weekly) 'reading practice sessions'. During each of these group sessions, children have the opportunity to practice reading a text which is aligned to their phonics knowledge. 


Each session has a different focus: 

Session 1 - decoding

Session 2 - prosody (expression and making their reading sound interesting!)

Session 3 - comprehension 


When children can read their book confidently and fluently, they take the book home to share with parents. 


Reading for Pleasure 

At Bishop Ellis we wish to establish a love of reading amongst our children. That is why our children have regular

access to 'Reading for Pleasure' books which they can take home to enjoy with an adult. These books are designed to be read by the adult to allow the children to share their love of reading. This is reflected in school by regular timetabled 'Reading for Pleasure' sessions, whereby adults in school read to our children.  

Reading across the curriculum

At Bishop Ellis, we 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.