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Bolton Primary School

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Phonics at Bolton

Phonics at Bolton

Phonics Subject Lead: Debbie Tinkler (Since September 2020)

Monitoring English Governor: Jane Morris (Since September 2023)


At Bolton Primary School we believe that for all our children to become fluent readers and writers, phonics must be taught through a systematic and structured phonics programme.


We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised to plan and provide daily engaging phonics lessons. In phonics, we teach children that the letters of the alphabet represent a different sound, that these can be used in a variety of combinations and are put together to make words. The children learn to recognise all of the different sounds and combinations that they might see when they are reading or writing. Our phonics teaching starts in Reception and follows a very specific sequence that allows our children to build on their previous phonic knowledge and master specific phonic strategies as they move through school. As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words that they might discover. At Bolton we also model these strategies in shared reading and writing both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on the development of language skills for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.


How we teach phonics

  • In reception and Y1, children follow the progression within Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. Phonics is taught daily and there is a review session on a Friday.
  • Phonics starts in reception in week 2 to ensure the children make a strong start.
  • By the end of reception, children will have been taught up to the end of phase 4.
  • By the end of year 1, children will have been taught up to the end of phase 5.
  • Reception lessons start at 10 minutes, with daily additional oral blending – increasing to 30 minutes as soon as possible.
  • Y1 lessons are 30 minutes long.
  • In Y2, phonic lessons are taught daily to children where appropriate – following the model of Little Wandle but plugging specific gaps identified through assessment.
  • From Spring 2023: In Y3-Y6 there will be planned phonic ‘catch-up’ sessions following a set model to address specific reading/writing gaps. These will be short, sharp sessions lasting 10 minutes in length and taking place at least three times a week.

Reading practice sessions

  • Children across reception, year 1, year 2 (and beyond if appropriate) apply their phonics knowledge by using a full matched decodable reader in a small group reading practice session.
  • These sessions are 15 minutes long and happen three times a week. There are approximately 4-8 children in a group.
  • The sessions follow the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised.
  • The children then take the same book home as an e-book after the reading sessions to ensure success is shared with the family.
  • In reception these sessions start in week 4. Children who are not decoding, do a little blending lesson, following the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sound Revised.

How do we assess phonic knowledge?

  • In reception and year 1, at the end of each week there is a review session which recaps the learning. There are also whole review weeks (pre-planned and bespoke review weeks to address gaps identified by the class teacher’s ongoing formative assessment).
  • Children identified in reception and Y1 as in danger of falling behind are immediately identified and daily ‘keep up’ sessions are put in place – sessions follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.
  • In reception and year 1, the children are assessed at the end of every half term using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker.
  • The children in Y1 sit the Phonics Screening Check in the summer term.
  • Children who do not pass the Phonics Screening Check in Y1, will re-sit this in Y2.
  • Children who are in Y2-Y6 and need ‘catch up’ sessions are assessed through teacher’s ongoing formative assessment as well as half termly summative assessments.

If you are a parent and would like more information about how to support your child with phonics at home, please follow this link to find the Reception and Year 1 overview as well as videos of the sound pronunciations, letter formation sheets and other helpful resources.



There are four types of reading book that your child will bring home:

  • An independent reading practise e-book (Collins Big Cat) – This book will be an e-book and accessed through your own personal ‘Collins e-book’ login, which will be given to parents at our parent workshop on Tuesday 20th September (3.30pm-4.30pm). This book will be at the correct phonic stage for your child. They will be reading this book in their reading practice sessions three times in school. They should be able to read this fluently and independently. This book is completely decodable.
  • A hard copy Little Wandle book – This book is matched to your child’s phonic knowledge and is completely decodable. Your child has not read this book in school, so will still be decoding to begin with and then should become more fluent by the end of the week.
  • An extra reading practise book (Gold Sticker) – This book is matched to their phonic stage. Your child may need some support to read this book. This book is decodable. These books have been best matched with the Little Wandle phonics scheme to follow progression of reading.
  • A sharing book (Red Sticker) – This book is from our school library. This book is for you to enjoy together and you may need to read the whole book to your child.


The independent reading practise book: Big Cat Books (E-book) / Hard copy Little Wandle Book

These book has been carefully matched to your child’s current reading level. If your child is reading it with little help, please don’t worry that it’s too easy – your child needs to develop fluency and confidence in reading. Listen to them read the e-book. Remember to give them lots of praise – celebrate their success! If they can’t read a word, read it to them. After they have finished, talk about the book together.


The extra reading practice book: E.g. Phonics Bug Club book (Gold Sticker)

This book has been chosen for your child that closely matches your child’s phonics level. Your child may need some support with this book. Please read it with them. Giving lots of praise as they read the words they can decode.


The Sharing Book: Library book (Red Sticker)

In order to encourage your child to become a lifelong reader, it is important that they learn to read for pleasure. The sharing book is a book they have chosen for you to enjoy together. Please remember that you shouldn’t expect your child to read this alone. Read it to or with them. Discuss the pictures, enjoy the story, predict what might happen next, use different voices for the characters, explore the facts in a non-fiction book. The main thing is that you have fun!