Phonics at Maple Court Academy

Subject Leader: Mrs Hurlstone


At Maple Court Academy, we recognise the importance of reading and that reading is a key life skill, which enables all our pupils to access the wider curriculum fully.  We prioritise phonics and early reading and our staff are determined to provide all our pupils with the essential skills to enable them to read successfully and make progress.

We are determined that every child will have the very best opportunity to become a fluent reader by the end of year 2, and we believe this is achievable through high quality, discrete phonics teaching, combined with regular, daily opportunities for developing and applying reading skills. We use a method of teaching called ‘synthetic, systematic phonics’ to teach pupils to read and spell.

To teach phonics, we use the DFE approved Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised phonics teaching programme to plan and provide daily engaging phonics lessons. The academy has clear expectations of pupils’ phonics term by term, from reception to Year 2 (see progression map below).

The Subject Leader

Hello, I’m Mrs Hurlstone and I’m the Phonics lead at Maple Court Academy. I’m extremely passionate about ensuring that every child in our school learns to read with accuracy and confidence, and above all develops a love of reading. In my role as phonics subject leader I will share my passion and enthusiasm towards phonics and help ensure phonics teaching is consistent and to the highest standard.

The Curriculum

In the nursery, children follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised ‘Foundations for Phonics’ guidance. The focus is on daily oral blending and language development through high quality stories and rhymes. We also introduce phase 2 letter sounds when the children are ready.

In Reception and Year 1, children follow the progression within Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme. Phonics is taught daily with a review session on a Friday. 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.

For children who need it, there are also planned phonic ‘catch-up’ sessions following a set model to address specific gaps in a child’s phonics learning. These are 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 and Year 2 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 6 children in a group. The sessions follow the model set out in Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised and allow the children to consolidate their learning in phonics lessons. The reading sessions also help to develop fluency when reading.

The children will have reading books to take home that are matched to the sounds they have been learning within their phonics lessons to increase reading fluency. It is an expectation that children read at home a minimum of three times a week.

Books match sounds

We support the children’s application of phonics by matching their school and home reading books to the sounds that they have previously learnt in class to increase reading fluency. The children use Collins Big Cat phonics books which fully support the daily phonics lesson.

Each unit of Little Wandle Phonics links with a series of decodable texts. These are designed to give children the opportunity to practise their blending skills and to consolidate their knowledge of grapheme−phoneme correspondences, in the context of engaging texts.

Children who are just beginning to learn the letter/sound correspondences are learning at the same time to tell stories using books which do not have words to begin with. This is crucial in the development of spoken language and vocabulary and it is a necessary stepping stone towards becoming an accomplished reader and writer.

Assessment for learning

In Reception and Year 1, at the end of each week there is a review session, which recaps the learning. The children are assessed at the end of every half term but assessment is ongoing throughout every lesson and teachers identify children’s strengths, misconceptions and next steps. Children identified in Reception and Year 1 as in danger of falling behind have daily ‘keep up’ sessions tailored to the support the individual’s needs.

The children in Year 1 sit the Phonics Screening Check in the summer term. Children who do not pass the Phonics Screening Check in Year 1, will re-sit this in Year 2.

Pupil Voice

‘In reception we played games in phonics’ – Luca

‘I love phonics, it is good because we get to read long words’ – Mia

‘We read words using our phonics and we look for the hidden digraphs’ – Oakley

‘We do phonics every day and we can read tricky words now’ – Chloe

Below you will find some useful videos that show how your child is taught Phonics at school and help you to feel confident about supporting your child’s reading at home. There are also some free resources that you can download and use at home with your child.

Phonics Curriculum Documents


Pupils thrive and learn well at Maple Court Academy.

| Ofsted 2023

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