Reading & Phonics


The team at WHHTS aim to create a positive, creative and innovative environment that stimulates children to interact and reflect upon a wide range of literature, to grow in confidence, to become sophisticated authors and to thoroughly enjoy this area of the curriculum under the guidance of subject specialists.

We value support from parents, carers and the home school and baseline our children with their input. At St George’s, our younger students are fully assessed in phonics through our Little Wandle Letters and Sounds scheme, and the children are assigned matched decodable readers from Big Cat. Our older children are assessed for comprehension and fluency with Reading Vipers questions and ‘60 second’ reads.

We aim to read with the children every day and incorporate a three-part approach to the teaching of the subject:
– Decoding – teaching the children to blend sounds.
– Comprehension – teaching children to understand the text.
– Prosody – encouraging children to read with understanding and expression.

At our Springfield site, the young people undertake an NGRT online test and are given daily reading interventions with personalised targets and increasingly complex texts and questioning. The termly units of work explicitly marry assessment objectives for English Language and Literature, so our students can feel confident in the relevance of HHTS English to their home school curriculum.

Reading for pleasure is a vital part of our ethos at WHHTS and the children at St George’s and Springfield are offered a selection of high-quality, free books from our charity partners Read for Good and the BookTrust and access to a diverse reading library at both sites.

Phonics and early reading policy

The context of our school


HHTS has a long history of delivering exceptional education for students who are unable to attend their mainstream school due to a diagnosed medical condition. Our teaching approach, ethos and personalised curriculum offer ensures that pupils make accelerated academic progress in a safe, welcoming and supportive environment.

The service is comprised of 9 sectors operating over two sites, St George’s School at St Georges Hospital and CAMHS Campus School at Springfield University Hospital.  Both sites offer a full academic timetable with additional bedside sessions at St George’s. The St George’s Hospital School has six key ward areas: children in isolation and those in oncology, medical, surgical and neuroscience, PSDU, a specialist day unit and Paediatric Intensive Care.  The CAMHS Campus School includes the Acute Adolescent Psychiatric Unit, the Adolescent Eating Disorders Unit and the Springfield Hospital Deaf Service.     

We also offer a Home Tuition Service for children and young people resident in Wandsworth, who are unable to attend school due to an underlying medical condition.


The children come to our service from across the country, they range in age from 4-18 and fit the national picture in terms of data.  Their time with us varies according to their condition.  The majority of our primary aged children are short-term and based at St George’s or are medical home tuition students. 


It is essential that our approach to teaching phonics and reading is accessible to all learners, regardless of background.



Phonics (reading and spelling)

At the Wandsworth Hospital and Home Tuition Service, we believe that all our children can become fluent readers and writers. This is why we teach reading through Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised, which is a systematic and synthetic phonics programme. We start teaching phonics in Reception and follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised progression, which ensures children build on their growing knowledge of the alphabetic code, mastering phonics to read and spell as they move through school.


As a result, all our children are able to tackle any unfamiliar words as they read. At the Wandsworth Hospital and Home Tuition Service, we also model the application of the alphabetic code through phonics in shared reading and writing, both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on language development for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.



At Wandsworth Hospital and Home Tuition Service, we value reading as a crucial life skill. We aim for all our children to read confidently for meaning and regularly enjoy reading for pleasure. Our readers are equipped with the tools to tackle unfamiliar vocabulary. We encourage our children to see themselves as readers for both pleasure and purpose.


Because we believe teaching every child to read is so important, we have a Reading Leader who drives the early reading programme in our school. This person is highly skilled at teaching phonics and reading, and they monitor and support our reading team, so everyone teaches with fidelity to the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised programme.



Foundations for phonics in Early Years

  • We provide a balance of child-led and adult-led experiences for all children that meet the curriculum expectations for ‘Communication and language’ and ‘Literacy’. These include: 
    • sharing high-quality stories and poems 
    • learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes
    • activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
    • attention to high-quality language.
  • We ensure our young children are well-prepared to begin learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPCs) and blending in Reception.


Daily phonics lessons

  • We assess all children to find the exact place to start their phonics teaching on the Little Wandle programme.
  • For Reception children, 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. 
  • We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress:
    • Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
    • Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy. 


Daily Keep-up lessons ensure every child learns to read

  • Any child who needs additional practice has Keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.
  • We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 or 3 who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics screening check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Keep-up resources – at pace.  
  • If any child in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least three times a week. 


Teaching reading: Reading practice sessions three times a week

  • Where children are well enough to consistently engage, we teach them through reading practice sessions three times a week. These:
    • are taught by a fully trained adult to small groups or 1:1.
    • use books matched to the children’s secure phonic knowledge using the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments and book matching grids on pages 11–20 of ‘Application of phonics to reading’
  • Each reading practice session has a clear focus, so that the demands of the session do not overload the children’s working memory. The reading practice sessions have been designed to focus on three key reading skills:
    • decoding
    • prosody: teaching children to read with understanding and expression
    • comprehension: teaching children to understand the text. 


Home reading

  • The decodable reading practice book is taken to the bedside to ensure success is shared with the family. 
  • Reading for pleasure books also go to parents to share and read to children. 
  • We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised parents’ resources to engage our families and share information about phonics, the benefits of sharing books, how children learn to blend and other aspects of our provision, both online and through workshops.


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. We all use the same language, routines and resources to teach children to read so that we lower children’s cognitive load.
  • 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 Reading Leader and SLT use the Audit and Prompt cards to regularly monitor and observe teaching; they use the summative data to identify children who need additional support and gaps in learning. 


Ensuring reading for pleasure 

‘Reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s success.’ (OECD 2002)

‘The will influences the skill and vice versa.’ (OECD 2010)


We value reading for pleasure highly and work hard as a school to grow our Reading for Pleasure pedagogy.

  • We read to children every day.  We choose these books carefully as we want children to experience a wide range of books, including books that reflect the children at Wandsworth Hospital and Home Tuition Service and our local community, as well as books that open windows into other worlds and cultures.
  • Our classroom at St George’s has an inviting book corner that encourages a love for reading. We curate these books and talk about them to entice children to read a wide range of books.  Our Springfield site has a diverse reading library. 
  • Our longer-term children from Reception onwards have a home reading record. The parent/carer records comments to share with the adults in school.
  • As the children progress, they are encouraged to write their own comments and keep a list of the books/authors that they have read.
  • Children have regular opportunities to engage with a wide range of Reading for Pleasure events (book fairs, author visits and workshops, national events etc).




Assessment is used to monitor progress and to identify any child needing additional support as soon as they need it.

  • Assessment for learning is used: 
    • daily within class to identify children needing Keep-up support 
    • weekly in the Review lesson to assess gaps, address these immediately and secure fluency of GPCs, words and spellings.
  • Summative assessment is used:
    • every six weeks 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.
    • by SLT and scrutinised through the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessment tracker, to narrow attainment gaps between different groups of children and so that any additional support for teachers can be put into place. 
  • The Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised placement assessment is used: 
    • with any child new to the school to quickly identify any gaps in their phonic knowledge and plan provide appropriate extra teaching.


Statutory assessment

  • Children in Year 1 sit the Phonics screening check at their home school, and we can support this process. Any child not passing the check re-sits it in Year 2.


Ongoing assessment for catch-up 

  • Children in Year 2 to 6 are assessed through:
  •  their teacher’s ongoing formative assessment 
  • the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds placement assessment 
  • the appropriate half-termly assessments.