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Elmhurst School

An Academy of the Great Learners Trust

Phonics and Reading 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.  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.


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 the needs of our lowest attaining pupils.


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.

At Elmhurst School, we pride ourselves on ensuring our staff are up-to-date with the latest research and development. Currently, we are training our EYFS and KS1 teaching teams on the new 'Little Wandle: Letters & Sounds Revised' programme. 'Speedy words', 'Tricky Words' and 'Shuffle Time' are just a few of the consistent phrases we are now using with our children. 

Revisit and Review

Our first training session was based around the 'Revisit & Review' part of the phonics lesson. This kick starts each lesson and generally focuses on previously taught phonemes, bringing them to the forefront of our children's memory. Children are encouraged to apply phonemes to reading words. We also learn tricky words in this part of the lesson. Here are our wonderful staff practising the teaching of this:

Teach and Practise

Our second training session was based around the 'Teach & Practise' part of the phonics lesson. This develops clear pronunciation of the sound and encourages children to hear the phoneme in isolation when we show them objects or pictures with it. We introduce our new 'Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence' (GPC) of the day and the mnemonic which goes with it (e.g. g for goat). Children see the class teacher model the formation of the grapheme and then they learn to hear and blend it in words. In Year 1 this is further developed by linking graphemes with the same sound (e.g. ow and ou). We develop vocabulary and understanding with our children and provide them with images, definitions and sentences with words which are unfamiliar to them. Here are our fantastic team learning how to teach this stage:

Practise and Apply

Our third training session focused on the 'Practise and Apply' section of the lesson. During this final stage of the lesson, our children are taught how to read a phrase or sentence through applying the phonemes they already know. Capital letters and full stops are pointed out and children are asked to identify any digraphs or trigraphs they can see. In Reception our children begin to practise spelling words through using magnetic letters and whiteboards. Gradually, they begin to form the letters and write the graphemes which spell a word. Each word is modelled first before it is hidden and then the children have a go. In Year 1, the children continue to practise their spellings with three focus words a day. Tricky words are also included so that the children grow in confidence with spelling these words in their own writing.

Friday Review Lessons

Our fourth training session focused on the Friday 'Review' lesson. On the last day of every week, our children are taught how to apply previously learnt phonemes and graphemes to their reading of words and a sentence. The Friday lesson follows the same structure as the rest of the week with sections on 'Revisit and Review', 'Teach and Practise' and 'Practise and Apply.' These lessons give our class teachers the opportunity to assess and review our children's phonetic learning so far. This enables challenging phonemes or words to be picked up quickly and added to the lesson planning for the following week.


Applying Phonics to Writing

Our Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 classes all have Little Wandle Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence (GPC) mats to support Talk for Writing lessons. Little Wandle Phonics lessons are not taught in isolation, our children are encouraged to use and apply the sounds they have learnt to their writing. 


Here are a few recent photos from Reception where they are using the GPC mats within adult led learning:

Years 2-6 learn reading strategies using the CAFE approach.  Please see the CAFE section for more details.