How We Teach Reading at St Thomas’

At St Thomas’ we aim to:

  • Ensure our children have access to a high quality English curriculum that is both challenging and enjoyable. English is taught through the Literacy Language Scheme, supplemented by additional reading lessons.
  • Provide our children with a variety of high quality reading materials and opportunities, which will enable them to develop as lifelong readers with a love of reading.
  • Enhance and develop all children’s vocabulary through explicit teaching of new words in a variety of contexts. We support children in using and embedding this vocabulary in reading lessons and throughout the wider curriculum.
  • Ensure all children are supported in developing reading fluency from their individual starting points.
  • Encourage inquisitive readers who look beyond the immediately obvious in a text.
  • Equip all children with the reading skills needed to successfully research topics throughout the curriculum and those of personal interest.
  • Support children and Parents/Carers in taking reading into the home through a variety of parental initiatives regarding reading.

Read Write Inc. Phonics

What is Read Write Inc?

Read Write Inc. (RWI) is a phonics complete literacy programme which helps all children learn to read fluently and at speed so they can focus on developing their skills in comprehension, vocabulary and spelling.  The programme is designed for children aged 4-7. However at St Thomas’ we begin the programme in Nursery and will continue teaching RWI to children beyond the age of 7 if they still need support in their reading.

RWI was developed by Ruth Miskin and more information on this can be found at

How will RWI be Taught?

All children are assessed regularly by our RWI lead teacher, Miss Dale, so they work with children at the same level. This allows complete participation in lessons.


When appropriate, children will be introduced to the initial sounds in short five minutes sessions.


In Reception all children will learn how to ‘read’ the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down.


The children:

  • learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letters/letter groups using simple picture prompts – see below
  • learn to read words using Fred Talk and sound blending
  • read from a range of storybooks and non-fiction books matched to their phonic knowledge
  • work well with partners
  • develop comprehension skills in stories by answering ‘Find It’ and ‘Prove It’ discussion questions


The children:

  • learn to write and form the letters/letter groups which represent the 44 sounds with the help of fun phrases
  • learn to write words by using Fred Talk
  • learn to build sentences by practicing sentences out loud before they write


The children – they work in pairs so that they:

  • answer every question
  • practice every activity with their partner
  • take turns in talking and reading to each other
  • develop ambitious vocabulary

Year 1 and Year 2

Children follow the same format as Reception but will work on complex sounds and read books appropriate to their reading level. Daily sessions of RWI phonics last for one hour.  Once children become fluent speedy readers they will move on to the Literacy and Language Programme.

Five Key Principles Underpin the Teaching in all Read Write Inc. Sessions:  

Purpose – know the purpose of every activity and share it with the children, so they know the one thing they should be thinking about.

Participation – ensure every child participates throughout the lesson. Partnership work is fundamental to learning.

Praise – ensure children are praised for effort and learning, not ability.

Pace – teach at an effective pace and devote every moment to teaching and learning.

Passion – be passionate about teaching so children can be engaged emotionally.

Order of Storybooks:

Children will hopefully follow the order listed below. The expectation is that all children will leave Year 1 as confident speedy readers, ready to take on the challenges of Year 2.  However, some children may need extra support and your teacher will talk to you about this.

Books Year Group Expectations Green Words in Books
Red Ditty 1-10 Reception Click here to help your child
Green 1-10 Reception Click here to help your child
Purple 1-10 Reception Click here to help your child
Pink 1-10 Reception/Year 1 Click here to help your child
Orange 1-12 Year 1 Click here to help your child
Yellow 1-10 Year 1 Click here to help your child
Blue 1-10 Year 1 Click here to help your child
Grey 1-13 Year 1 Click here to help your child

To Help at Home:

Your child will start to bring books home when they are confident readers. Please help them to read and give lots of praise!

If you have any other questions about RWI, please see your child’s class teacher, or see Miss Dale.

Phonics Screening Check – Year 1

What is the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check?

The Year 1 phonics screening check is a short, light-touch assessment to confirm whether individual pupils have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard.

It will identify the children who need extra help so they are given support by their school to improve their reading skills. They will then be able to retake the check so that schools can track pupils until they are able to decode.

Teaching of Reading

At St Thomas’, we recognise that the teaching of reading must be carefully planned to meet the needs of all of our children, taking into account low literacy baselines and the large percentage of children speaking English as a second language.

We recognise the importance of taking a consistent whole school approach to the teaching of reading to narrow any gaps and to prepare all children for the next stage of their learning.

In regards to reading, St Thomas’ teachers:

1. Know where their children are – through the use of concise summative assessment, including termly reading assessments with gap analysis, phonic intervention and progress checks and fluency assessments for those children not yet fluent in reading an age appropriate text.

2. Understand where their children need to be – through a secure understanding of year group expectations and effective formative assessment including live marking and feedback at the point of learning and high quality questioning based upon KS2 question stems.

3. Know how they are going to get them there – through the use of age appropriate texts including challenging vocabulary in reading lessons to prepare children for the pitch of texts used at the end of KS2 . Rather than remove challenge to allow children to access the material, we have developed a whole school approach to introducing a new text in whole class guided reading sessions:

  • My teacher reads so I can focus on meaning
  • We discuss vocabulary and make connections
  • I read with a partner so I become more fluent
  • I answer questions to show what I understand

4. Effectively deploy adults – through groups being supported in accessing the whole class text and children working at a higher level in reading being supported in accessing higher level questions and challenging activities.

Phase ‘Reading Champions’ have been introduced to deliver high quality reading interventions for those children in need of extra support in reading based upon their starting points and prior attainment. Training is provided half termly for these members of staff, either internally or by an external provider to equip them with the skills needed to help children to develop their reading skills and maximise their progress.

  • EYFS –   Mrs Lane
  • KS1 –     Mrs Topham
  • LKS2 –   Mrs Crompton
  • UKS2 –  Miss Hadcroft

5. Plan for progression during and between sessions – through use of our reading routine and introduction of more complex questioning towards the end of the teaching sequence.

6. Model effective, enthusiastic reading and a high quality of spoken and written English.

7. Raise the profile of new vocabulary in a variety of contexts – through explicit use of the new vocabulary both in and out of the reading session, the presence of contextualised words in a vocabulary rich classroom and an avoidance of ‘dumbing down’ language for children.

8. Teach children the skills involved in effective reading – through varied lessons and a common language developed in school regarding key reading skills:


Using a variety of strategies and prompts, predict, and increasingly justify these predictions, based upon evidence given.

Make Connections

Connect what they read with their own experiences and make links with previous learning and reading.


Ask pertinent questions about a text based upon what they have read so far.


Make a summary of a whole or part text, omitting irrelevant or extra information.


Look beyond the immediately obvious and become ‘text detectives’ to show higher level understanding.

Understand New Vocabulary

To explain new vocabulary in context with support, and increasingly begin to understand how new words could be used in other contexts.

Picture It

Focus on language to create pictures in their heads, aiding understanding of a text.


Find information in a text through use of skills such as skimming and scanning and understanding of layout features.

These skills are taught from Early Years through to the end of Key Stage 2 and all teachers have worked collaboratively to create a bank of activities based upon these skills at each year group level.

Reading at home, reading for pleasure and parental involvement:

All children at St Thomas’ take home a reading book and are encouraged and given time to read regularly for pleasure, whether alone or as part of a whole class story time.

Year Group Reading Book Reading for Pleasure
EYFS Read Write Inc. reading book matched to current colour band. Story time at least once a day. Story based role play and small world activities.
Year 1 Read Write Inc. reading book matched to current colour band. Daily story time and access to Headteacher book club. Reading suitcase scheme.
Year 2 Read Write Inc. reading book matched to current colour band or

Banded book at appropriate reading level for those children no longer on the Read Write Inc. programme.

Daily story time and access to Headteacher Book Club. Reading suitcase scheme.

Reading buddies scheme with Year 5 pupils.

Year 3 Banded book at appropriate reading level or

Read Write Inc. reading book matched to current colour band for those children still on the programme.

Daily reading for pleasure time dedicated. Whole class novel.
Year 4 Banded book at appropriate reading level or

Read Write Inc. reading book matched to current colour band for those children still on the programme


Free choice read for those children working at greater depth in reading.

Daily reading for pleasure time dedicated. Whole class novel.
Year 5 Free choice read for those children working on Year 5 curriculum or

Banded book at appropriate reading level.

Daily reading for pleasure time dedicated. Whole class novel.

Access to Deputy Headteacher Book Club.

Year 6 Free choice read for those children working on Year 5 or 6 curriculum or

Banded book at appropriate reading level.

Daily reading for pleasure time dedicated. Whole class novel.

Access to Deputy Headteacher Book Club.

At St Thomas’, we are always looking for ways to involve parents in their children’s learning. We have developed some successful strategies in order to support and engage parents in the subject and share a love of reading with their children:

  • Reading Picnics – parents are invited into school to share stories with their children and have a look at a selection of ‘recommended reads’ for the age groups. Teachers use this opportunity to share their expertise in reading and model a story time session to the children and parents. In older year groups, the children prepare readings and performances from their favourite books for the event. Parental feedback from the reading picnic indicates that they are effective in supporting them in helping their child with reading.
  • ‘I found it very helpful to hear the teacher read out loud.’ (Year 2 parent).
  • ‘Good to spend time with my child talking about books and sharing a story.’ ( Year 6 parent).
  • Reading newsletter – a termly newsletter is sent out to all parents detailing reading news in the school, with a focus on new books, reading events and a focus author of the term. Parents are also invited to share their own book reviews for publication in the newsletter.
  • Library Visits – Each year group has a chance to visit Bolton Library annually, with parents invited to join us on the trip. Whilst there, story time sessions are modelled and staff help to advise on recommended reads for each year group.
  • Annual Book Fair – access to high quality reading material with staff always available to support in choices of appropriate texts for their child’s level.
  • Big Book Swap – a chance for children and parents to donate a book, explain why they feel others may enjoy it, and leave with a new book. Teachers and parents are encouraged to donate and enjoy the pleasure of trying something new.
  • Echo Reading Workshops – planned to support parents in developing fluency with their children through the technique of echo reading and high quality modelling .