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Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. They are taught how to recognise the sounds that each individual letter makes; identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make  -such as ‘sh’ or ‘oo’; and  blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word. Children can then use this knowledge to ‘de-code’ new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.

Why phonics?
Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way – starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex – it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7.

Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills they need to tackle new words. They can then go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and to read for enjoyment.
Children who have been taught phonics also tend to read more accurately than those taught using other methods, such as ‘look and say’. This includes children who find learning to read difficult, for example those who have dyslexia.

Our approach

At Oakdale we are passionate about ensuring all children become successful, fluent readers by the end of Key Stage One. In order to do this, we provide every child with high-quality phonics as this plays a key role in children developing word decoding skills.
To achieve this, every child in Reception and Year 1 receives daily phonics and linked reading lessons. Every lesson has clear precise structure of revisit, teach, practise and apply following our systematic Little Wandle scheme. This allows for a recapping of previous knowledge and embedding of new learning. This can then be practised and applied in both reading and writing every day.

Throughout lessons children are also taught how to read and spell ‘tricky words’ (words that cannot be sounded out e.g. was, you). At Oakdale, we teach children in whole class groups only using separate groups for interventions or SEND needs. This allows all children to access age-appropriate phonics and ensures that ‘no one gets left behind’ and all children are exposed to the sounds taught in their year group.
Children will typically learn Phase 2 and Phase 3 sounds in Reception before starting Phase 4 (blends) in the Summer. In Year 1, Phase 4 is recapped before Phase 5 is taught including alternative sounds and alternative graphemes in time for the Statutory Phonic Screening Test in June. In Year 1, all children will complete the Phonic Screening Test which assesses their phonics knowledge and ability to apply sounds to read both real and alien (pseudo) words, results are then given to parents in their final report. In Year 2, children move onto learning spelling patterns and rules with unusual graphemes such as: ‘ough’. All children are closely monitored and regularly assessed so that any children who are struggling, who have gaps or misconceptions are identified early and additional support put in place. This rigorous method of teaching is the proven best way to teach reading for all children regardless of age and abilities. We are required to teach phonics using a recognised and validated phonics scheme, at Oakdale we teach phonics using the ‘Little Wandle’ accredited scheme.


  • To provide consistent, high-quality phonics teaching which follows the lessons progression and order of sounds as dictated by our Little Wandle scheme.
  • To ensure lessons are made accessible by all children regardless of gender, age, ability, disability, ethnic origin, faith, culture, social circumstances and sexual orientation.
  • To ensure that children have secure phonetic knowledge, understanding and skills so that they can decode words confidently and apply this when reading and writing at age-appropriate levels.
  • To teach children aural discrimination, phonemic awareness and rhyme to aid reading, writing and spelling development.
  • To enable children to use phonic awareness across the curriculum for writing and reading.
  • To provide children with strategies to identify and decode ‘tricky words’ across the school.
  • To make successful life-long readers and writers.



  • Daily phonics lessons and follow the scheme of work and lesson format by ‘Little Wandle’.
  • In Reception and Year 1, ‘tricky words’ are taught consistently for each phase of phonics to aid High Frequency Word recognition and spelling. Spelling in years 2-6, is taught following the school-wide scheme ‘Spelling Shed’.
  • Progress of all pupils is monitored and evaluated closely, and all teachers have high aspirations of every pupil.
  • In Reception and Year 1, assessments are used to adapt planning and respond the children’s needs.
  • Interventions are put in place for children in need of additional support; following the Little Wandle scheme and resources including the ‘SEND’, ‘Catch-up’ and ‘Keep-up’ plans.
  • In Year 1, half-termly phonics screening assessments are conducted and analysis to track progress towards the schools and individual children’s targets.
  • Staff have high-quality training and regular support sessions to ensure they can teach and assess phonics accurately to support all leaners.
  • Parents are kept informed of children’s progress in parent’s evenings and reports.
  • Parents are informed of ‘how Oakdale teach phonics’ through parent’s meetings and training sessions in KS1.
  • Children practise applying phonics to reading skills in small teacher-led groups using Little Wandle reading sessions which take place 3X a week. These sessions are organised following the children’s abilities and Little Wandle Scheme.
  • In Year 2, the reading progresses from phonically decodable books to books linked to the Little Wandle scheme but created to encourage fluency, speed and comprehension. This ensures a progression of phonics and reading skills.
  • In KS2, some children may still be learning phonics and reading phonetically decodable books. These match the KS1 Big Cat Collin/Little Wandle books to ensure progression.
  • Children take home 2 reading books across KS1 and KS2 from the Big Cat Collins Company. These are phonetically matched the individual children’s phonics levels in KS1, and then colour-banded to develop fluency, comprehension and speed in KS2.
  • Across school, all classrooms will display The Little Wandle ‘Grow the Code’ or ‘Complete the Code’ charts to support spelling and reading where necessary.


  • Children will make progress through the different phases of phonics in line with Year Group expectations and make progress from their own individual starting points.
  • Children will become confident and resilient in tackling unfamiliar words by applying learnt knowledge and skills to segment, blend and read words which are real and nonsense.
  • Children will demonstrate high levels of engagement in phonics and will apply their phonological knowledge when reading and writing and use resources to assist them when needed but become increasingly independent in this process.
  • Children will have an increased recognition of ‘tricky-words’ and ‘high-frequency words’ when reading and apply these when writing.
  • Children with SEND will develop phonic skills and knowledge and they will develop their ability to apply this across the curriculum which will help to prepare them for the next stage in their education.
  • Children will achieve age-related in all assessment points due to their reading and writing skills.
  • Children develop and sustain a love for reading and writing that is life-long and they want to celebrate.