Reading & Phonics

At Richard Lee, we understand the importance of ensuring that all children learn to read because of the positive impact that being a proficient reader can have on a child. We are relentless in our belief that all children can learn to read and are determined to make this happen through our ambitious curriculum. We aim to ensure that children become engaged with reading from the very beginning of their school life and that, by the end of their primary education, they are able to read fluently and with confidence in order to access their forthcoming education. At the heart of our strategy, is our drive to cultivate a love of reading, enriching learning with imaginative and thought-provoking texts.

Our Reading Curriculum

In our teaching of reading, we prioritise two key strands: word reading/decoding and language comprehension. Reading fluency strategies are employed throughout school to build the bridge between the two key strands and reading for pleasure is focused on fostering a love of books.

Early Reading and Phonics

At Richard Lee, we strive to teach children to read effectively and quickly using the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme (RWI) which includes teaching synthetic phonics, sight vocabulary, decoding and encoding words as well as spelling and accurate letter formation.

We passionately believe that teaching children to read and write independently, as quickly as possible, is one of the core purposes of a primary school. These fundamental skills not only hold the keys to the rest of the curriculum but also have a huge impact on children’s self-esteem and future life chances. Using the RWI phonics program we teach children to:

  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • write sounds and words clearly and accurately

In practice, children learn the 44 common sounds in the English language and are taught how to blend these sounds to decode (read) words. We start by teaching children to read and blend the first thirty Set 1 sounds. Once they have conquered this skill, they start reading stories and texts that have words made up of the sounds they know. This means that they can embed and apply their phonic knowledge and start to build their reading fluency. Once secure, children learn Set 2 and Set 3 sounds and then read texts with increasingly more complex sounds and graphemes. Throughout this process, there is a focus on comprehension, reading with expression and reading for enjoyment.

Children are taught in small groups which reflect their phonic knowledge and reading fluency. We regularly assess children so that they are taught in a RWI group which matches their phonic knowledge. We make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ability to read ‘tricky words’ so they experience early reading success and gain confidence that they are readers.

During the Summer term in Year 1, children nationwide are tested on their phonic knowledge. This helps us to identify children who have gaps in their phonic knowledge and may need further support in Year 2. Parents are informed as to whether their child has achieved the national expectation within the child’s end-of-year report.

Whole Class Reading

Once pupils have completed the Read, Write, Inc. phonics programme, they are taught to further develop their fluency and comprehension skills through daily whole-class reading lessons. A range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry has been chosen to cover a rich and diverse variety of text types, authors, characters, settings, themes and vocabulary. Where possible, these texts link to the wider curriculum. Pupils are taught the skills and strategies found within our ‘Readers’ Toolkit’ through the use of discussion and written work.

Reading fluency strategies (such as ‘echo reading’ and ‘jumping in’) are built into reading sessions as well as lessons across the curriculum, in order to build pupils’ accuracy, speed and expression.

Daily story time sessions happen in every year group to allow pupils to discover a wide range of text types and authors as well as developing a love of reading.


How to Help at Home

All pupils take home a book matched to their reading level, as well as a reading for pleasure book. Pupils are expected to read regularly at home, recording this in their home reading record.

There are many quick and easy ways to help your child with their reading learning at home. Talking to your child about books is one of the most important things that you can do to support their progress in reading and to build their vocabulary. Reading books to your child will also help them.

In the early stages of reading, encourage your child to notice the letters and words all around them – this could be in books, on shopping list or street signs. Talk to your child about which sounds they have been learning in Read, Write, Inc. lessons at school and use the resources from your class teacher to help you to practise the sounds. 

Children are regularly assessed in reading, with extra support put in place for any child who is struggling. Please talk to your child’s class teacher if you are worried about their reading.