The Belham Curriculum:

Phonics and Early Reading

We teach daily phonics in Reception and Year 1, building to fluency. Pupils read and spell using Grapheme Phoneme Correspondence. Keep-up support for those needing extra practice. Consistent approach and teacher training ensure progress. Curriculum follows Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised 2021.

Curriculum Intent

At The Belham, our dedication lies in ensuring that all our pupils become proficient readers and writers. We employ the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme, an approved systematic approach for teaching synthetic phonics by the Department of Education. Phonics instruction begins in Nursery/Reception, with continued progression through the programme. Our goal is for all pupils to become fluent readers by the end of Key Stage 1, enabling them to further enhance their reading enjoyment and comprehension throughout Key Stage 2.

Our Offer

Daily phonics lessons in Reception and Year 1.

We teach phonics for 30 minutes a day. In Reception, we build from 10-minute lessons, with additional daily oral blending games, to the full-length lesson as quickly as possible. Each Friday, we review the week’s teaching to help children become fluent readers. Daily phonics teaching begins in Reception as soon as all our pupils have started.

  • Pupils in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 Grapheme Phoneme Correspondences (GPCs), and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
  • Pupils in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.

Keep-up lessons:

Any pupil in Reception or Year One who needs additional practice receives keep-up support from a trained member of staff. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.

Any pupil in Years Two or Three who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics screening check will receive Rapid Catch-up support from a trained member of staff. Any pupil joining the school who is not reading at the age-related level will be assessed, and any gaps in their phonics knowledge will be addressed through Rapid Catch-up support from a trained member of staff.

Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions

All pupils in Reception and Year One are taught to read through reading practice sessions. These are taught by a trained member of staff in groups of around six children. Books are decodable and are matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids. Each reading practice session is focused on one of the three key reading skills: decoding, prosody (reading with fluency and expression), and comprehension. In Reception, these sessions begin with children who are already decoding. Children who are not yet decoding have blending practice in small groups, so that they quickly learn to blend and can begin to read books. In Years Two and Three, we continue to teach reading in this way for any pupils who still need to practise reading with decodable books.

Home reading:

The decodable reading practice book is taken home each week along with a reading for pleasure book chosen by the child to share at home. Parents can find phonics resources and information to support their child’s learning through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised parents’ resources. We run a phonics workshop for all Reception parents to introduce this, and to provide information and resources.

Ensuring consistency and pace of progress

Every teacher in our school has been trained to teach reading, so we have the same expectations of progress and use the same language, routines, and resources. In addition:

  • Weekly content grids map each element of new learning to each day, week, and term for the duration of the programme.
  • Lesson templates, Prompt cards, and ‘How to’ videos ensure teachers all have a consistent approach and structure for each lesson.
  • The teaching of phonics is regularly observed and monitored, and summative data is used to identify children who have gaps in learning and need additional support.


Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support. We assess daily within class to identify children who may need extra support, and use the weekly Friday Review lesson to assess and address any gaps in the class. Every six weeks we use summative assessment to assess progress, to identify gaps in learning that need to be addressed, to identify any children needing additional support, and to plan the Keep-up support that they need. Phonics assessments are scrutinised by the Phonics Lead and Senior Management to identify those pupils in need of extra support. Any child new to the school is assessed using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised Placement Assessment to identify any gaps in their phonic knowledge and plan to provide appropriate extra teaching. Pupils sit the Phonics screening check at the end of Year One. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year Two. Children in Years Two to Six receiving Rapid Catch-up sessions are assessed every six weeks to monitor progress.

Curriculum Structure:

Our phonics curriculum follows the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised 2021: Programme progression. The Reception and Year One overview show the progression of GPCs and tricky words as they are taught term by term.

How you can help at home

Reading with your child is the most important activity to do at home. Their phonics book is matched to the sounds they have learned, enabling them to segment and blend sounds to create words. It's also vital to read to children as it helps them access more complex texts and enhances their vocabulary. Spending time asking your children to make predictions, inferences, or retrieve information from a picture or passage will further support their comprehension.