With a commitment that every child should be a fluent reader by the time they leave Key Stage 1, Trumpington Park Primary School has been named as a Little Wandle Champion School, the first in Cambridgeshire and one of only 11 across the UK.
More than 4,500 schools are using Little Wandle Letters and Sounds for their phonics and early reading provision. Trumpington Park, which is part of Meridian Trust, first introduced the resource at the start of the 2021-22 school year and following excellent progress its phonics screening for Reception and Year 1 is well on track for a 90-95% pass rate this year.
Now, following a visit from Little Wandle assessors in February, Trumpington Park has been selected as a Champion School for its “exemplary practice”, including meeting 16 Standards of Excellence, and will support other schools in the successful implementation of the resource.
“It is a huge privilege to be named a Little Wandle Champion School in recognition of our work, and drive and desire to contribute to its development and impact in other schools, which will include us being a Little Wandle trainer,” explained Charlotte Yarrow, Assistant Headteacher and Reading Leader at Trumpington Park, who as well as leading implementation of Little Wandle at the school will now do so across the Trust.
“We chose Little Wandle to support our vision for a strong, well-resourced phonics programme. It has been created by teachers, was trialled in similar school-based settings, and we like the whole-class teaching with Keep Up sessions for those who need additional support. Importantly, CPD is part of the programme so can be ongoing for any new staff who arrive, whilst we also use the videos for ongoing coaching.
“Impact on phonics tests is one thing, but it is more than that. It is about children wanting to read and reading for pleasure, and having a joined-up vision on phonics which demonstrates how serious we are about it as a Trust. Meridian Trust really values reading, and our clear message to children and staff is ‘we are readers’.”
Charlotte highlighted the role of two Teaching Assistants who were selected as Reading Champions, and who have been trained and are able to teach the programme. “Buy-in from staff has been really important and, honestly, I couldn’t wish for a better team,” Charlotte said. “Our TAs bring long-term stability, supporting the needs of our children. If we get it right in early years, we get it right for the rest of the school.”
In January, Trumpington Park hosted a Meridian Trust showcase event so other schools could see Little Wandle in action. Nearly 30 visitors descended on the school and observed phonics teaching and Keep Up sessions in Reception and Year 1, as well as mapping sessions. “It was a really successful morning,” Charlotte revealed. “Some Meridian primaries are on their Little Wandle journey, and others are considering moving to Little Wandle, so it was an opportunity for everyone to see what lessons look like and ask key questions about implementation and the roll-out of Reading Champions.”
Trumpington Park is also supporting Martin Bacon Academy with the Little Wandle SEND programme, and will potentially be involved in the development of a new Key Stage 3 resource. “Meridian Trust is always about the children, how we can get the best opportunities available for them, and really thinking about our practice. As part of this process I have visited other schools in the country to see how Little Wandle is making a difference. Having Champion School status can further set us apart,” Charlotte added.
Mel Shute, Headteacher at Trumpington Park Primary School, commented: “We are absolutely delighted to be named a Little Wandle Champion School, which is recognition of our commitment to children in Reception and Year 1 who 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.
“We are excited to see the impact of Little Wandle throughout the school, not only in Reception and Year 1 but also for those children who need additional catch-up to build their fluency and stamina of reading. We are also keen to support Little Wandle in the research and piloting of new initiatives around handwriting and spelling so the approach continues to embed excellent practice across the school. We look forward to supporting other schools in Meridian Trust, and outside of the Trust, on their Little Wandle journey.”