Dickens Heath Community Primary School

Enabling every child to be the best version of themselves

Early reading

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 accurately, fluently and with understanding, and that they develop a life long love of reading, being able to read for pleasure and for information.


In line with the Early Learning Goals and Programmes of Study for reading at Key Stage 1 and 2 which consist of word reading and comprehension, through our reading curriculum we seek to develop children’s phonemic awareness, phonic ability,  fluency, vocabulary and  language and reading comprehension. 

Early reading - a summary of our approach


Research tells us that systematic synthetic phonics (SSP) is the best way to teach children to decode.  We use a structured programme called Read Write Inc (RWI) in the summer term of Nursery, and then throughout Reception, Year 1 and for those children who take longer to crack the phonic code, into Year 2 and Year 3.  We use RWI as a basis for our direct teaching of early reading and writing. 


The programme supports teachers by specifying:

  • a ‘hook’ – a picture and saying – to help children remember each GPC, referred to throughout a pupil’s time at school as necessary;
  • the order of grapheme–phoneme correspondences (GPC) to be taught and clear expectations of progress, so that we can monitor and support pupils who are in danger of falling behind well before the Phonics Screening Check in Year 1 (PSC).


We use the  programme with fidelity, and do not mix with any other approach or scheme.  We do however, provide pupils with plenty of opportunity to read and write across the curriculum to practise and apply what they have been taught.   Pupils are grouped, based on their ability in phonics, and taught in daily sessions throughout FS2 and Y1.  Pupils begin the programme as soon as they enter FS2 and we have carefully planned how all our pupils will get off to a strong start within their first half term.


Through using resources from the programme, we ensure that the books that children read in school and at home are matched closely to their phonic ability so that children feel successful when reading.  The texts allow children to practise recognising GPC that they have  been taught, and to blend these to read words and sentences.   These books are not intended to be great works of literature; rather they are intended to teach children to read (so that they can go on to read great works of literature). 


Expectations of progress

Parent video: What is Read Write Inc Phonics?

Parent video: Understanding Phonics

Parent video: How to say the sounds

Promoting a rich language environment, in which pupils are exposed to a wealth of  children’s literature

We want children to love listening to and joining in with stories, nursery rhymes and poems right from the start of Nursery.  We have identified which nursery rhymes, songs and poems children will learn in Nursery, Reception and Year 1.  We have also carefully chosen, throughout school and starting in Nursery, which stories children will listen to and get to know well – our Guaranteed Great Reads.   We have daily story time sessions, where children listen to a range of stories, including those from our Guaranteed Great Reads and through these, develop a bank of stories that pupils  enjoy listening to again and again. 

Nursery rhymes, songs and poetry - FS1, FS2 and Y1

Guaranteed Great Reads - FS1, FS2 and Y1

Parent video: Why read to your child?

Parent video: 10 things to think about when you read to your child

Further information can be found in our English policy: