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Reading and Phonics

Reading and Phonics Subject Leader: Catherine Parris (*plus additional trust leadership capacity)

Through reading, children have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables children both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. At Rushton Primary School, we highly value reading as a key life skill, and are dedicated to enabling our children to become lifelong readers. We believe reading is the bedrock of success in education. We use a synthetic phonics programme called Read, Write Inc. Read, Write, Inc. phonics is an inclusive literacy programme for all children learning to read. Children learn the 44 common sounds in the English language and how to blend them to read and spell. Once pupils can read fluently, we use the Oxford Owl Reading Scheme for children’s reading books, which follows on from Read, Write Inc. Oxford Owl is a cohesive and progressive scheme, which allows the children to take the appropriate steps in becoming a confident and successful reader. Alongside the reading levels, the children have an age/level appropriate reading spine to choose from their class libraries. These books have been carefully chosen to expose children to diverse situations they could come across in society. At Rushton, we use The Literacy Tree scheme of work from Year 2 to Year 6. This scheme ensures children have practiced all reading skills: retrieval, inference, vocabulary, summarise, predict, authors choice and compare, contrast and comment. The Literacy Tree has an over-arching theme for each term, which supports our pupils’ development culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually.


At the end of EYFS

Pupils at the expected level of development will:

● Say a sound for each letter in the alphabet and at least 10 digraphs;

● Read words consistent with their phonic knowledge by sound-blending;

● Read aloud simple sentences and books that are consistent with their phonic knowledge, including some common exception words.


At the end of Key Stage 1

Pupils will be applying phonic skills automatically to read with fluency. They recognise and read with all the alternative graphemes and recognise and read common suffixes and exception words. They will have developed pleasure in reading and be motivated to do so, sharing favourite books and authors. They also will participate in discussions about books and poems they have read to them.


At the end of Key Stage 2

Pupils will read aloud a wider range of poetry and books written at an age-appropriate interest level with accuracy and at a reasonable speaking pace. They read most words effortlessly and to work out how to pronounce unfamiliar written words with increasing automaticity. They will be reading frequently, both at home and in school, for pleasure and information. They read silently, with good understanding, inferring the meanings of unfamiliar words, and discuss what they have read.


Pedagogy: How the Curriculum is Taught

Our reading curriculum is taught using the following key components:

  • The systematic synthetic approach to the teaching of phonics enables children in the early stages of reading, in English, to acquire the 40+ phonemes to decode words – this is taught by ‘stage not age’ so they are reading with sounds and words they know.

  • Fluency is the accuracy and speed of reading a text. In acquiring this fundamental reading skill, can are able to free up their working memory to consider questions which require higher order thinking. An indicator of fluency is the rapid retrieval of information. Fluency can be developed by rereading the text in the whole class, in fluency groups or on a 1:1 basis. Other strategies such as text marking, echo reading and line by line reading also support the improvement of fluency.

  • The curriculum is rigorously taught through a coherently sequenced, curriculum design. Substantive concepts are built over the unit as the children’s understanding grows and the disciplinary skills of reading (responses to questioning) are explored.

  • Vocabulary is systematically built across the curriculum. Teachers use whole class chorusing, stem sentences and repetition of key words and sentences to ensure pupils develop a clear understanding. Use of fast paced questioning ensures that all pupils are secure in the vocabulary that they need to access the learning.

  • Pupil work is not differentiated by task. Instead, children who require more support are provided with additional scaffolds to enable them to access the learning (such as working with concrete resources for longer or being provided with focused pre-teaching or same day support), and children who grasp concepts quickly will be challenged to think about particular aspects more deeply, within the same curriculum content.

  • Explicit teacher modelling of strategies and procedures through worked examples, with the teacher ‘thinking out loud’, forms an essential scaffold for pupil learning.

  • Key questions are used throughout lessons to support development of understanding. Teachers regularly use precise questioning in class to test conceptual and procedural knowledge, and assess pupils regularly to identify those requiring intervention so that all pupils keep up.

  • Pupils have the opportunity for guided practises throughout the teacher directed part of the lesson. Practise is scaffolded to ensure success for independent task



We use a multi-faceted approach to assessment within reading

  • Regular 6 weekly RWI assessments - or more frequently to pitch texts accurately

  • Assessment for learning is used within each lesson / 1:1 tuition through skilful use of questioning and live feedback

  • Within Year 2 and Year 6 statutory SATs papers are used to accurately identify gaps in pupils’ learning

  • In year 3, 4 and 5, PiXL test papers are used to accurately identify gaps in pupils’ learning


Cultural Capital

Enrichment is an essential part of our reading curriculum which provides pupils with discrete time to deepen their learning.  They provide opportunities for new experiences as well as nurturing and developing a thirst for learning. 


We use a multi-faceted approach to enrichment within reading:

  • World Book Day (every other year)

  • Book Club (one term a year)

  • Termly buddy Reading

  • Celebration of Reading in assembly

  • Online author events/seminars


Career Professional Development

We develop strong subject knowledge amongst all staff which is achieved through comprehensive middle leadership development, a focus on developing all teachers’ subject knowledge and pedagogy. All staff benefit from implementing the high-quality planning resources provided by the Trust which is amended to meet the needs of all pupils.


Below is a summary of the CPD activities bespoke to reading:

  • Skill specific videos to support teachers in the delivery of Read, Write, Inc.

  • Weekly RWI drop-in Sessions followed by supportive feedback

  • Training available to new members of staff from The Literacy Tree

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