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Phonics message from our Headteacher

Our clear message to young people and staff is ‘we are readers’. Hurworth House School has a commitment that every child should be a fluent reader.

All our young people arrive at Hurworth House School having been unable to manage in a mainstream and/or specialist school setting. They will have considerable gaps in learning, levels of attainment that are significantly below age related national expectations, and in some cases, without any formal schooling. A high proportion of the cohort have high anxiety and negative feelings about themselves as learners, which prevents them from mixing in large groups.

We chose Little Wandle to support our ‘reading vision’ as it provided a robust, well-resourced phonics programme. Our teachers are creative, however we found that they were focussing on the planned activity rather than the phonics being learned. We required a consistency in approach to rapidly close gaps and enable our young people to read as quickly as they could.

Little Wandle Logo

Importantly, professional development is part of the Little Wandle programme so up-to-date training was ongoing for any new staff member who arrives at Hurworth House School, ensuring consistency in approach. 

At Hurworth House School, we strongly believe in developing reading for pleasure for all our young people. The Little Wandle programme has supported our progress in providing a joined-up vision on phonics, which demonstrates just how serious we are about it at Hurworth House School.

Claire Blackett
Headteacher at Hurworth House School

Introducing Little Wandle to Hurworth House School

Hurworth House School, which is part of Aspris Children’s Services, first introduced the resource at the start of the 2022-23 school year. Following excellent progress using the Little Wandle, assessments are on track for an outstanding 100% progress in phonics this year.

Lucy Harrison, our curriculum lead for teaching and learning, highlighted the role of our English lead as being instrumental to ensuring a robust offer is in place: “The commitment, understanding and vision buy-in from staff is pivotal – we could not have a better team at Hurworth House School.”

Lucy and her ‘phonics team’ have delivered training and support from our care team partners and the feedback was highly positive. The workshops gave an opportunity for everyone to see what lessons look like and ask key questions about implementation.

So much is our success of our phonics programme that some Aspris schools are now on their Little Wandle journey, and others are considering moving to Little Wandle.

Our students are taught daily following Little Wandle Letters and Sounds, and how we use decodable texts to embed the learning of phonics into reading development and reading fluency. Students at Hurworth House School can have challenges in processing and working memory, therefore we use additional strategies to support recall throughout the day.

We are excited to see the impact of Little Wandle throughout the school, not only in and how it supports catch-up to build their fluency and stamina of reading.

Moving forward, we are keen to work in partnership with Little Wandle, parents and carers, to develop research and pilot new initiatives around our passion – reading access for young people with special educational needs.

Discover more about Little Wandle

To discover more about why we chose Little Wandle at Hurworth House School, please click here

To find out more about Phonics at Hurworth House School click here.

Below you will find a selection of the school areas to further support phonics and reading.