Reading and Phonics

Reading and Phonics

What is phonics?

The importance of strong phonic knowledge and the application of these skills are recognised and valued at Ropery Walk. These skills are the basis to developing a lifelong engagement with reading and writing.

Phonics teaches children to be able to listen carefully and identify the phonemes (pure sounds) that make up each word.  Phonics lessons teach children three main things:

  • GPCs – grapheme phoneme correspondence.  This simply means that children are taught the phonemes and the way  that they can be written down.
  • Children are taught to blend by saying each sound that makes up a word and then merging them together until they can hear what the word is.  This is an essential skill when learning to read as it gives children the skills and knowledge to decode unfamiliar words.
  • Children are taught to spell words by segmenting.  This is the opposite of blending.  Children are taught to say a word and then break it up into the phonemes that make it up.

Read Write Inc.

At Ropery Walk,  phonics is taught daily to those children in EYFS, Year 1 and as an intervention programme in Year 2.  We use a scheme of work called Read Write Inc. which was developed by Ruth Miskin.  It is a synthetic phonics programme that aims to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills.  It is a systematic and rigorous approach to teaching phonics with the aim of children becoming fluent readers by the age of seven.

Throughout the programme children work and lessons move at a pace suitable for them.  Children are assessed, by the RWI Manager, to ensure progress is being made and can be moved from one group to another. In EYFS, children are split into smaller groups and taught phonics and reading for 30mins per day.  In Year 1  children are taught in small, homogenous groups to develop phonics, reading, comprehension and writing skills for an hour each day, following the Read Write Inc. programme.

Phonics Screening

At the end of Year One all children will take part in a phonics screening check.  The children will be asked to read 40 real and nonsense words.


Teaching children to read and to be readers is, arguably, the most important role for primary education as reading opens up opportunities – for enjoyment, learning, empathy and understanding. It is therefore a central aim at Ropery Walk Primary School that all children should become competent, effective readers who decode accurately, read with comprehension and, most importantly, take enjoyment in reading. We aim to develop children who not only can read but do read.

Reading Aims and Objectives

Through a lively, engaging comprehension curriculum we seek to:

  • Develop children’s positive attitudes to reading so that they are committed, independent readers by the time they leave our school
  • Teach children the skills and strategies they need to be able to understand and read effectively, whether they are reading for pleasure or to find information
  • Improve their understanding – and hence their enjoyment – of different sorts of text
  • Introduce children to a wide range of high-quality texts, both fiction and non-fiction, and to excellent authors and illustrators, in order to help them make informed choices for themselves about books they wish to read

By explicitly teaching to these aims, we hope to achieve our objectives of

  • Raising standards in reading comprehension, so most children achieve the expected standard by the time they leave the school
  • All children self-identifying as keen readers (or liking reading) by the time they leave our school

 Developing Positive Attitudes to Reading 

In order to promote reading as a pleasurable activity we emphasise and promote:

  • Regular reading to the class by the teacher, using engaging texts which children may not encounter for themselves
  • Classroom environments which encourage and support reading choices and independent reading – including reading/ book corners and displays
  • Library use
  • The sharing of enthusiasm for books – among adults and children
  • The explicit teaching of comprehension – as understanding is key to enjoyment
  • Reading as a vital tool for research and finding out
  • Reading as a way of discovering more about the world and ourselves
  • The commitment of time to reading

 Reading in School

In EYFS and in Year 1 much of the time allocated for reading will be properly used for teaching phonics. The teaching of comprehension will come through regular reading to the children, in both large and small groups, and the range of talk/ drama-based activities that are developed from this reading experience.

Once most children have acquired good decoding skills, the emphasis shifts to more explicit teaching of comprehension through high-quality texts. We continue to read daily to the class, and use whole class reading to teach skills and model comprehension strategies.  1:1 and group reading is used to support learners and to provide feedback.

What we Teach

Our teaching objectives are drawn from the National Curriculum programme of study. This underpins the reading comprehension curriculum and our teaching approaches – our choice of texts, the reading journal focus, the links made with reading across the curriculum, our emphasis on teaching vocabulary etc.

However, we believe that we need to place greater emphasis on how we understand, rather than just the what that the Programmes of Study emphasise. So, using our reading spine and our teaching texts as the context, our curriculum and classroom practice focuses on reading comprehension skills and strategies. These are:

  • Using prior knowledge to support understanding
  • Checking books make sense to them – by learning to retrieve information and infer ideas
  • Asking questions
  • Skimming, scanning and reading closely
  • Using strategies to locate or infer the meaning of unfamiliar words
  • Visualising their understanding
  • Making predictions
  • Summarising their understanding
  • Adapting their reading style according to their purpose
  • Annotating text

These skills and strategies form the heart of our curriculum and need to be frequently modelled to children on age appropriate texts. In order to make our ways of teaching as consistent as possible, taking account of any adaptations necessary to support different groups of learners

Reading Platforms

In school, children in KS2 have access to a program called Reading Plus.  This programme develops fluency, reading speed, understanding texts and a wider vocabulary range.  Children have their own usernames and passwords. To access this at home visit

The children also have the opportunity to access Fiction Express which is an innovative book platform that connects students with professional authors. This encourages reading for pleasure through fun co-creation of stories. To access this at home visit

Reading at Home

EYFS and KS1

Access to reading materials at the correct level is vital in setting children up to succeed in reading. Carefully matched reading books to your children phonic level will be sent home.  These are Read Write Inc phonic books which match the scheme we use in school.

They will know all of the sounds used in the text because they match the sounds in the books they are being taught in class. This means they will be able to read the text with fluency and confidence – like a storyteller. They will enjoy reading to someone else or to themselves.


Each child will be allocated a Colour Banded Book from Oxford Reading Tree.  This book is designed to build your child’s fluency at an age appropriate level and to broaden their reading experience.  This book will be changed by their class teacher. Please have this book in school every day.

We expect and encourage all children to read to an adult at home on a daily basis.  As children move into upper KS2 and become independent readers, they may choose to read to themselves.  A reading diary is used as a means of communication between home and school about child’s reading progress and should be signed daily.

Reading for Pleasure

At Ropery Walk Primary School, we are passionate about reading and creating an environment that promotes reading. We believe that high-quality literature is key to motivating children to read and instilling in children a love of literature. All classrooms have a book area where books and information about books are displayed attractively and where browsing, choosing and reading can take place as a visible way of establishing and promoting a positive ethos for reading for pleasure. We carefully consider the range of texts made accessible to children to cover a breadth and variety of genres and formats; ensuring children can experience a full and rich range of reading. At the end of each day, children have the opportunity to enjoy listening to a story read by their class teacher.

Reading Ambassadors

From Y2, each class has Reading Ambassadors who are expected to carry out a range of responsibilities including:

  • co-ordinating events linked to reading e.g. competitions, pupil voice, assemblies, World Book Day, book swaps and other events
  • sharing their love of reading with their classmates
  • encouraging everyone in their class to read
  • and be an excellent role model for reading


Useful links to support reading and phonics.



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