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St Mark's C.E. Primary School

Loving God - Serving others - Flourishing together

“Encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

St Mark's C.E Primary School home page

St Mark's C.E. Primary School

Loving God - Serving others - Flourishing together

“Encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Early Reading and Phonics

Early Reading & Phonics:




At St. Mark’s C.E. Primary School, we are passionate about ensuring all children become confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. Phonics is a crucial part of learning which forms the foundation for all other subjects. It teaches the alphabetic principle – that letters represent the sound of spoken language. With this as our driving force, we seek to deliver a high-quality phonics programme. We support our children in their reading and writing journey by beginning with single sounds and progressing to the more complex sounds. Through daily, systematic and consistent high-quality phonics teaching, children learn to segment words to support their spelling ability, blend sounds to read words, develop a strong phonic awareness and effective blending and decoding skills. We also value and encourage the children to read for enjoyment. We believe  reading for pleasure opens up a world beyond their own, incites their imaginations, supports and moulds their individual interests and exposes them to new vocabulary. We seek to spark a love of reading so we teach writing by immersing the children in storytelling, drama and exploration of activities linked to quality texts from many different cultures and genres.





At St Mark’s C.E Primary School, our approach to phonics and early reading is delivered using a DfE approved phonics programme: Little Wandle. We have selected this approach as it is rigorous, systematic, used with fidelity and achieves strong results for all pupils, including the most disadvantaged and those with SEND. Little Wandle has been developed by Wandle Learning Trust, in partnership with phonics and reading experts and it is designed around the DfE (2021) ‘Improving rate of progress’ report




As an essential stage of the teaching sequence, we promote application to decodable books.  At St Mark’s C.E. Primary, we use Collins Big Cat for Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised. Their fully decodable books match to the Little Wandle programme progression and present only words made up of GPCs learned to that point. In addition to this, they include tricky words only as they are introduced in the programme. Moreover, the texts allows for reading at 90% fluency.





At St Mark’s C.E. Primary, we recognise that phonics is just one of the processes of learning to read. Our commitment to early reading and phonics ensures that our children read fluently and with automaticity.





We believe that reading is rather like learning to riding a bike. When you first learn, there are so many different things to think about and do! Gradually, you become better  and the stabilisers are removed …  suddenly, you fly! Once you have mastered the skill, you don’t forget!  Some take longer than others but ultimately everyone can get there!                                                             



Our approach to phonics ensures that all children are given a solid base upon which to build as they progress through school. In addition to this, it seeks to develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information.



Through our carefully planned curriculum, we ensure seven key features of effective phonics teaching:


  • direct teaching in frequent, short bursts
  • consistency of approach
  • secure, systematic progression in phonics learning
  • maintaining pace of learning
  • providing repeated practice
  • application of phonics using matched decodable books
  • early identification of children at risk of falling behind, linked to the provision of effective keep-up support


We ensure that all children make progress through a thorough ‘keep up’ programme.  From the start, Phase 2 and 3 additional blending support is provided to those who require it. One-to-one keep up matches every aspect of the lesson in small steps to ensure success.


Reading sessions focus on a three-part format: decoding, prosody and comprehension. We believe in repeated practice to ensure learning is embedded; the aim is for our children to know more and remember more.  We seek to ensure learning is embedded into the long-term memory.






Through Little Wandle, our children are able to become fluent, confident readers and increasingly accurate spellers. Children have had the opportunity to enter and explore the worlds that reading opens up to them and as they develop their own interests, they are exposed to stories and texts from many different cultures, worlds, genres and styles.


At St Mark’s, we have a positive reading culture where children enjoy, engage with, and have understanding of a wide range of literature and authors. They are able to decode, use, and understand challenging vocabulary they have encountered throughout their reading journey, and link this with their spoken and written language. We aim to ensure that our children’s attainment is in line or exceeds their potential, when we consider the varied starting points of all the children.


As a result of our Reading Curriculum, our pupils are able to read with accuracy, confidence, fluency and understanding. Importantly, they are able to access reading across the curriculum.


Both formative and summative assessment are used to assess understanding and track progress. Specialist intervention and bespoke individual education plans are implemented for those children working towards achieving age-related expectations. 


In order to evaluate the level to which children are retaining their knowledge and are able to apply their learning to a range of contexts, we use a variety of techniques. 


  • CPD and staff meetings to ensure that teacher pedagogy and subject knowledge is secure
  • Feedback in lessons to address misconceptions as they arise
  • Subject monitoring including book looks and learning walks
  • Regular low-stake formative assessment opportunities
  • Whole-school tracking of progress in reading 
  • In school moderation and regular progress meetings with priorities being outlined on our school development plan
  • Cross curricular opportunities for application of knowledge and skills


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