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Upham Church of England Aided Primary School

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Learning to Read and Phonics

Which DfE Validated Phonic Scheme do we use?

Throughout the school, we use the 'Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised' scheme which has achieved validation from the DfE as a fully systematic synthetic phonics programme. Phonics is primarily taught in Years R and 1 and then into Year 2. Some individuals or groups of children may require some additional support for phonics as they progress through Years 3 to 6 and materials from 'Little Wandle' continue to be used as required.

In using the 'Little Wandle' programme, we can ensure:

  • There is fidelity in how this one approach is used across the school
  • There is progression in line with the National Curriculum
  • That phonic readers align with progression in learning phonics
  • That staff and parents have access to extensive training and support
  • That there is robust assessment built into the materials and schedule 


If you would like to find out more about 'Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised' Phonics, have a look at this website:

Here is an overview of the teaching progression within Little Wandle so parents can see how the aspect their child is learning now, fits into the whole programme:

What Reading Scheme do we use?

We use books from the Collins Big Cat Phonics for Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised scheme books which are fully aligned and integrated within the 'Little Wandle' phonics programme. These books are used across Years R, 1 and 2 and support the teaching of reading through phonics in class within reading practice sessions and also at home for parents to use with their child. 

Children use these books at home for their child to develop reading fluency. Children should be able to read the book with developing confidence and fluency without any significant help. The parent's role is to listen with interest and most importantly to encourage and praise, enthusiastically acknowledging the child's achievement (even the tiny stages forward). Afterwards, it might be helpful to talk about the book but only so far as the child is interested. The reading experience should be positive, not feeling like a test.


If children are to become lifelong learners, it is essential that they are encouraged to read for pleasure - the desire of wanting to read will help with the skill of reading. To help foster a love of reading, children will also bring home a book they can share and enjoy. This book, perhaps chosen from our extensive library or class libraries, is for interest and fun and parents shouldn't expect their child to read this book out loud or encourage them to do so. This is a book to share and enjoy, perhaps model reading as an adult from it to your child.

How long has the school used Little Wandle and Big Cat Books?

The change to Little Wandle Phonics and the Big Cat Readers happened in the spring term 2022. Following a review of phonics provision in the Autumn 2021, our senior leadership team determined that we needed to make a change from the previous resources we were using. Staff began training for the new Little Wandle programme in January 2022 and began assessment processes to work out where in the programme to begin - for 2022, Classes 1 and 2 are not quite aligned to the planned overview due to these different starting points. Once practice reading sessions were started, we were able to share information with parents regarding how home readers might look a little different. Here is the most recent communication sent to parents: