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How We Teach Early Reading and Writing

Little Wandle places four key elements at the heart of their lessons, and Ripple teachers emulate these in each phonics lesson. These are: 


Focused attention:

We teach short, pacey and engaging daily lessons focusing on core learning, without any wasted time or unnecessary activities or resources, which ensures we maintain the focus of our pupils. 


Active engagement:

We expect our pupils to extend beyond focusing on a lesson by demonstrating an active engagement, taking part in group and individual tasks, including revising and learning new graphemes/phonemes through oral responses, decoding, segmenting and blending, plus demonstrating the application of these skills by reading and writing words and sentences.  


Error feedback:

All pupils make mistakes. For our pupils to learn from them, we inform them of their error positively by modelling the correct answer or pronunciation, without any negativity from the teacher, which encourages them to continue contributing to the lesson without fear of making another mistake.  


Practice and consolidation: 

The short, sharp and pacey nature of our lessons ensure we cover lots of learning in a short space of time, but they also allow for lots of practice and consolidation. Repeated practice means our pupils get to revisit previous learning and gives them an opportunity to demonstrate to their teacher that they have remembered and understood what has been taught. One in every five lessons is a revision/consolidation lesson and the reading practice sessions give pupils further opportunities to apply their prior learning.  

We start teaching phonics in Nursery, where our youngest pupils are encouraged to listen to sounds in their environment and to distinguish between the different sounds they hear. This is known as “Phase 1” of their phonics learning. They also learn to sing and recall simple nursery rhymes and are encouraged to recall what happens in them.


Reception children begin learning phonics almost immediately, with an initial assessment in their first week and then starting daily phonics lessons in Week 2 which follow the progression schedule for Little Wandle (see the support section). This continues in Year 1, with a thorough but enjoyable approach that aims to ensure our pupils build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, master phonics to read with confidence and spell words with increasing difficulty as they move through school. 


We teach phonics in Reception and Year 1 for 30 minutes each day. Reception lessons build from short, sharp 10-minute lessons (with additional phonics games throughout the day to aid progress) to 30-minute lessons as soon as our pupils are ready. We review the week’s teaching every Friday to consolidate their learning and assess their progress.  


We teach four new phonemes (sounds) and their corresponding graphemes (written letters) each week, which are then reviewed in the Friday lesson. In addition to the new phonemes/graphemes taught, children will also learn new “tricky words” during these sessions. 


Reception pupils learn Phase 2 and Phase 3 phonemes and graphemes throughout the autumn and spring terms and learn Phase 4 in the summer term. 

In Year 1, our pupils spend the first three weeks of the autumn term revising Phase 2, Phase 3 and Phase 4 before starting to learn Phase 5. In the second half of our summer term, all Year 1 pupils will complete the national phonics screening assessment.  


Year 2 pupils begin the school year by revisiting Phase 5 (and other phases if necessary) to ensure that all Year 2 pupils are confident and capable of applying these to both their reading and their writing. Those who can, will progress from phonics to spelling, comprehension and fluency activities. 


In addition to weekly reviews, pupils’ progress is monitored in Reception and Year 1 by half termly assessments, which help inform our teachers to identify pupils who may have gaps in their knowledge and require additional practice. Daily informal assessments also take place within the classroom so teachers can promptly identify any pupils who are falling behind. These pupils receive the appropriate daily ‘Keep Up’ intervention to meet their needs. 

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