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Our approach to reading and phonics



All the reading she had done had given her a view of life that they had never seen.

“You seemed so far away,” Miss Honey whispered, awestruck.

“Oh, I was. I was flying past the stars on silver wings,” Matilda said. “It was wonderful.”

Matilda, Roald Dahl


Our key aims are to ensure that children are able to read fluently and with understanding, and that they develop a life long love of reading, being able to read for pleasure and for information.

The programmes of study for reading at Key Stage 1 and 2 consist of word reading and comprehension.


Read Write inc.

Read Write Inc. Phonics, Literacy & Language, Fresh Start and Spelling are highly successful literacy programmes for 4-13 year-olds created by Ruth Miskin and published by Oxford University Press. The training and support from Ruth Miskin Training, rated Outstanding by the Department for Education, ensure the programmes have the best chance of success in schools.

The four Read Write Inc. programmes are carefully matched to the new curriculum, giving your children the best chance of success in the national tests. They show teachers, teaching assistants and parents step-by-step how to teach all children to become fluent readers, confident speakers and willing writers.

Our school uses:

Read Write Inc. Phonics for our children in Nursery to Year 2 and for our children in Years 3 and 4 who need to catch up Read Write Inc. Fresh Start for our children in Years 5 – 6 with a reading age of nine and below.


Read Write Inc. Phonics is used by over a quarter of the UK’s primary schools. It is a comprehensive literacy programme, weaving decoding, comprehension, writing and spelling together seamlessly. Ruth Miskin developed the programme during her time as a headteacher in Tower Hamlets. She believes that in order for a school to be successful, every headteacher needs to adopt a consistent whole-school approach to teaching reading, writing and spelling. Fidelity to the teaching programme, rigorous assessment, tracking and one-to-one tutoring ensure that schools guarantee progress for every child.

For information and tutorials on how to support your child learning to read go to:

Fresh Start

Read Write Inc. Fresh Start raises attainment rapidly in reading and writing. The programme boosts children’s confidence by matching what they read with the sounds they know using specially created age-appropriate texts and anthologies. Read Write Inc. Fresh Start provides clear and cumulative writing activities to build vocabulary and punctuation.

For more information go to:

For information around delivery please see our school policy: Read write Inc 2017

Here is a list of the mnemonics linked to set 123 sounds: Set 123 sounds

Here are some phonics games that you can play at home with your child: Fred Talk Games

Reading comprehension

Alongside this focus on word reading, from Foundation Stage onwards, children will hear, share and discuss a wide range of high-quality books that they may not yet be able to read for themselves to support them in developing a love of reading and broadening their vocabulary.   Daily story time happens in each class, including in Key Stage 2, and a whole school reading spine of quality literature has been developed, detailing the texts that children will read or listen to in each year group.  The reading spine, which includes classics, modern fiction and writing from significant children’s authors, gives children access a wide range of quality reading material, so that they meet books and writers that they might not choose to read themselves. Additionally, each year in Key Stage 2, children study the work of a significant children’s author, with each year group having a collection of texts by the same author to share, discuss and compare.

Comprehension skills develop through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, of what they have read or listened to, during whole class work and through daily guided reading activities.

Guided reading

All pupils, from Key Stage 1 onwards, take part in a weekly small group focused guided reading session with their teacher, where they read and discuss a range of fiction, poetry and non fiction.

The National Curriculum for English states that, ‘The knowledge and skills that pupils need in order to comprehend are very similar at different ages. This is why the programmes of study for comprehension are similar [in each year group]: the complexity of the writing increases the level of challenge.’

Throughout Key Stage 1 and 2, a common approach to planning and assessing children’s comprehension skills in guided reading sessions is used.  Learning is planned and assessed around the following nine key areas:

  1. Engagement and enjoyment
  2. Decoding
  3. Reading for meaning
  4. Understanding vocabulary
  5. Literal retrieval
  6. Sequencing (and summarising in KS2)
  7. Inference
  8. Making predictions
  9. Making connections

Ongoing guided reading records are used to inform teachers when inputting termly reading data.  This data indicates whether children are predicted to end the year as working towards, working at or working at greater depth in relation to their year group objectives and is used as the basis for discussions at termly pupil progress meetings, where pupils who may need additional support to meet end of year expectations or their own target are identified.  For the small number of pupils who are not working at their year group expectations, and for pupils who have SEND, small steps of progress are tracked using termly reading age assessments.

Personal reading choices and habits

In addition to whole class and guided reading teaching, pupils are given regular opportunities to develop their own reading habits and preferences, and from FS1 onwards, pupils have opportunities to exercise choice in selecting books and are taught how to do so.

Pupils in KS1 choose reading material from the selection of banded books from the KS1 library.  Each book box includes a selection of fiction, non fiction and poetry.    Pupils are directed to the appropriate book band by their teacher and moved on to select books from the next book band as their teacher feels appropriate. Pupils are given the opportunity to change their book at least once a week, and teachers and teaching assistants monitor home-school reading logs to ensure that pupils are reading regularly with a grown up at home.

Pupils in KS2 choose books from the graded spinners in the KS2 library, moving progressively from Red Rockets, to Blue Moons, to Purple Planets, to Grey Galaxies. Pupils are directed to the appropriate spinner by their teacher and moved on as their teacher feels appropriate.  Teachers and teaching assistants in lower KS2 monitor home-school reading logs, to ensure that pupils are reading regularly at home. In upper KS2, pupils are encouraged to take more ownership of recording information about their  reading preferences and habits on their reading blog, which class teachers and other pupils respond to.

All pupils in KS1 and KS2 have regular opportunities during the school day to enjoy reading books that they have chosen for themselves in ERIC (Everyone Reads In Class) sessions.  In these sessions, pupils are welcome to read a book they have chosen from school, another library, or from home.

Reading and performing poetry and play scripts

In line with the National Curriculum, children at Dickens Heath are encouraged to appreciate a widening range of contemporary and classic poetry as they move through school. Through whole class units of learning, pupils in each year group build up a repertoire of poems that they read, reread, rehearse and recite  by heart and perform,  showing understanding through intonation, tone and volume.  Similarly, children in Key Stage 2 prepare play scripts to read out loud and perform, demonstrating their comprehension through their performances.