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Elmhurst School

An Academy of the Great Learners Trust

Phonics and Early Reading

"I like it when other people read us stories but I also like reading by myself as it helps me to get better at my reading and I can use my Phonics to help." - Year 2 Child

Curriculum Intent

At Elmhurst School, we have high expectations for all of our pupils regardless of their background, needs or abilities. We aim for every child to be a successful reader and children start their reading journey with us through daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1. This means that at least 95% of our children will leave Year 1 confidently reading Phase 5 Mustard books, having also passed their Phonics Screening test.


Enabling our young readers to start successfully in life will allow our Y2, Y3, Y4, Y5 and Y6 teachers to build upon fluency and focus their teaching on vocabulary and comprehension.


The National Curriculum for English (2014) aims 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.


We recognise that reading underpins children’s access to the curriculum and it clearly impacts on their achievement. This is why we are so passionate about it. There is considerable research to show that children who enjoy reading and choose to read benefit not only academically, but also socially and emotionally.


To be able to read, children need to be taught an efficient strategy to decode words. That strategy is phonics. It is essential that children are actively taught and supported to use phonics from the start of their reading journey in Reception as the only approach to decoding. We understand that phonic decoding skills must be practised until children become automatic and fluent reading is established.


Fluent decoding is only one component of reading. Comprehension skills need to be taught to enable children to make sense of what they read, build on what they already know and give them a desire to want to read.


Reading increases children’s vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Furthermore, children who read widely and frequently also have more secure general knowledge. 


We aim to provide all children with the skills needed to succeed in becoming independent readers.  In order to allow children to transition to secondary school, able to easily access all other subjects, it is essential that all of our pupils have the skills to decode and comprehend texts at an appropriate level.

Curriculum Implementation

At Elmhurst School, we follow the Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) programme 'Little Wandle: Letters & Sounds Revised' for the teaching and learning of Phonemic Awareness and Phonics in Reception and Year 1. We understand the importance of ensuring that every one of our pupils can read, regardless of their background, needs or abilities and have a relentless drive to succeed in this mission. A strong to start to developing phonemic awareness is essential to give children the skills needed to read independently.  


We have ensured that our phonics teaching and learning informs our 'Big Cat Collins' reading book scheme.  Phase 2, 3, 4 & 5 'Big Cat Collins' books are fully decodable and show a culminative progression in phonics which match our 'Little Wandle' SSP programme.  All staff are aware of the reading stage expectations for each year group and robust assessment systems are in place to ensure we accelerate learning and respond quickly to children not meeting the expected standard. 


Through prioritising budget on Early Reading and Phonics we are confident that our school is well resourced and equipped for the teaching and learning of 'Little Wandle: Letters and Sounds Revised' and the systematic reading of 'Big Cat Collins' phonics books.  We work hard to ensure that all of our children have access to stories, poems, rhymes and non-fiction to develop their vocabulary, language comprehension and love of reading.

If you would like further information on Phonics or Early Reading or how to help your child at home then please get in contact with our Phonics and Early Reading Leader, Mrs Zoe Nelson on 01296 481380 or

Page last updated: 27/06/22