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Bolton St Catherine's Academy

Bolton St Catherine's Academy

Our Approach to Reading and Phonics


At Bolton St Catherine's Academy we strive to teach all children to read and write independently, as effectively and quickly as possible. We teach phonics using the Read Write Inc Phonics Programme (RWI) developed by Ruth Miskin which is a systematic and synthetic approach to teaching early reading and writing. It is designed to create fluent readers, confident speakers and willing writers. Using the RWI phonics program we teach children to:

  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • develop a habit of reading for both purpose and pleasure
  • spell effortlessly and compose writing for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences

When using RWI to read children will learn the 44 sounds (from the English alphabetic code) and are taught how to blend these sounds to decode words. On entry to Reception all children start by learning the first thirty Set 1 sounds (these are the 26 single letter sounds e.g. m,a,s,d,t and the consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, qu, ng and nk) and quickly move on to reading stories and texts containing the sounds they know. Through this they begin to apply their phonic knowledge and increase their reading fluency. Once secure, children learn Set 2 sounds (ay, ee, igh, ow, oo, ar, or, air, ir, ou and oy) and Set 3 sounds (ea, oi, a-e, i-e, o-e, u-e, aw, are, ur, er, ow, ai, oa, ew, ire, ear and ure) whilst reading more complex texts using more complex sounds. Throughout this process there is a focus on comprehension, reading with expression and reading for enjoyment.

In school, children are taught in small groups which reflect their phonics knowledge and reading ability. Children are regularly assessed to ensure their RWI group matches their phonic understanding and to identify children who are falling behind the programme's pace. These children get immediate, targeted support. This is in order to ensure all children are reading confidently and fluently with understanding so, when they leave Key Stage 1 and early reading, they are able to access the National Curriculum successfully and meet at least age-related expectations on exit of Year 6.

Phonics continues to be taught using the RWI approach as an intervention in Key Stage 2 for those children who need to continue learning phonics. Where necessary, in Upper Key Stage 2 children who require additional support with their early reading access RWI Fresh Start.

Reading at Home

Children continue to practice their early reading skills by reading phonetically matched independent reading books. These are taken home by the children to show and practise their growing reading skills further at home. We encourage and expect the children to read frequently at home- every day after school for up to 10 minutes. Additionally, we have put phonic videos online so the children can practice the sounds and their blending skills from their phonic sessions at home.

Children in Early Years and Key Stage 1 can also access the Bookworm Club Lending Library and take out a story book each week to share at home. Click the weblink below to read the Booktrust's top tips for reading at home with your child:

Stories, poems, rhymes and non-fiction

Reading for pleasure is an important and vital part of the early reading journey. Our Early Years and Key Stage 1 Treasure Chest Book List outlines a wide range of fiction the children will enjoy listening to throughout their time in each year group. The children have story time every day. The books that make up this list are wide ranging: classics, contemporary and author studies.

Poems, rhymes and non-fiction are also a focus. They are chosen for reading to grow the children's vocabulary, their understanding of language and to foster their live of reading.

The academy librarian works closely with primary to develop this love of reading and carefully selects non-fiction, fiction and poetry classroom book boxes for the topics being studied throughout the year.

Reading across the curriculum

The children need every opportunity to practice and embed the phonics they have learned during their RWI sessions and to continue to develop their understanding of what they read (comprehension). Teachers plan for reading across the wider curriculum in their learning challenges by selecting high interest non-fiction, fiction and poetry. This also provides the opportunity to further develop the children's vocabulary, knowledge and indeed, cultural capital.

If you want further support helping your child with phonics, or to know which phase your child is in so you can practise at home, please ask the Class Teacher.