Reading and Phonics

We are readers, writers and narrators!

‘My tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.’ (Psalm 45:1)

Read Write Inc & Home Reading Books

At St Mary’s we use the Read Write Inc (RWI) programme to get children off to a flying start with their literacy. RWI is a method of learning centred round letter sounds and phonics, and we use it to aid children in their reading and writing.

Reading opens the door to learning. A child who reads a lot will become a good reader. A good reader will be able to read more challenging material. A child who reads challenging material is a child who will learn. The more a child learns, the more he or she will want to find out.

Using RWI, the children learn to read effortlessly so that they can put all their energy into comprehending what they read. It also allows them to spell effortlessly so that they can put all their energy into composing what they write.

When using RWI to read the children will:

learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letter/letter groups using simple picture prompts
learn to read words using Fred Talk
read lively stories featuring words they have learned to sound out
show that they comprehend the stories by answering questions.

When using RWI to write the children will:

learn to write the letters/letter groups which represent 44 sounds.
learn to write words by saying the sounds in Fred Talk
write simple sentences

Each week children accessing the RWInc scheme in school will recieve a home reader specifically designed for the set of sounds they are learning at the time. The books are designed to build confidence and fluency, so developing young readers skills and knowledge. In addition like all other children they will recieve a mediated home reader from the Oxford Tree Scheme, this again will contain the some of the sounds they are learning, but will also have other sounds. The mediated book is designed to read with the support of an adult, thereby allowing the child to see the value of reading and enjoy the learning experience with family.

Please click on the link below to view a parent introduction to phonics:

Parent Tutorial 

Please click on the link below to view a video explaining how we use Read Write Inc to teach phonics:

Understanding Phonics Tutorial

Please click on the link below to view a video showing the correct pronunciations of Set 1, 2 and 3 sounds:

Pronunciation Guide

St Mary’s Reading Scheme

St Mary’s uses the  Oxford Reading Tree reading scheme.  Children are regularly assessed, to ensure that they are reading the correct stage book. This enables staff to ensure that the  pace of reading is correct and that there is sufficient challenge to help progress pupil’s reading fluency.  Children in Key Stage One are given a reading book to take home regularly and have a reading diary which is a home /school link to allow parents to support their child at home. As children progress later in the school and their reading ability develops, they ay are able to access a range of texts within the school library to continue their reading development.

Oxford Reading Tree is a Character led sequence of books which follow the lives and adventures of the central characters Biff, Chip, Kipper and Floppy. The initial levels are phonetically structured.  The controlled vocabulary increasingly introduces more complex vocabulary as the scheme progresses. The adventures and predicaments that the central characters find themselves in allow the reader to think about and engage with the characters and ask questions about the stories.

If you require any further information about Phonics or Oxford Reading Tree please contact your class teacher.

Lexia - Supporting Phonic development and Reading

Lexia is a computer programme that helps children develop their literacy skills independently and at their own pace. It has been used in education for 30 years and is one of the most researched and respected reading programmes in the world.  Lexia has a personalised approach to learning for each child: it tracks each child’s progress, targets strengths and weaknesses, and even has printable certificates for when a child has passed a milestone achievement.

All of Lexia’s products are designed according to the latest scientific findings in education. According to The National Reading Panel of the United States government, there are five critical skills that students must master in order to become proficient readers: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Lexia helps children develop in all these areas in a fun, engaging and interactive way.

Using Lexia, students work independently at their own pace through individualized learning paths to develop fundamental reading skills in a structured, sequential manner. Teachers are notified when students require support or intervention and are provided with the resources for face-to-face instruction. St Mary’s has staff trained to use Lexia and to help develop our students’ literacy.

Lexia Core 5 for younger students 

Lexia Core5® Reading supports educators in providing differentiated literacy instruction for students of all abilities. Lexia’s research-proven program provides systematic, personalized learning in the five areas of reading instruction, targeting skill gaps as they emerge, and providing feedback to the student and to the school.

Engages and motivates students in a game-like environment
Provides progress-monitoring student data without a test
Accessible via iPad, Chromebook, or browser
All student have regular access to Lexia from reception, with children also able to access the resource from home.

Reading Events

At St Mary’s we regularly hold reading events for all children to enjoy. We are active members of the Berwick Literacy Festival, with our children participating in workshops, public events and themed visits from authors and illustrators.

We also have a range of activities organised each year for World Book Day.  Children love to dress up as their favourite book character and take part in a range reading activities to encourage participation.

The school runs termly reading competitions for home reading both in Early Years and Key Stage 1 & 2. with prizes of days out and creative art days, participation is high and increasing. Every year the school arranges a variety of events to support parent involvement in their child’s reading development.

As well as one off events, the school has a range of initiatives to develop a love of reading including:

Daily storytelling sessions
Weekly whole school peer reading sessions, when children across the school mix classes and share stories with each other.
Secret storyteller sessions, with mystery guests arriving to tell a tale or 2.
Parent reading drop-ins.
Key Stage 1 go to the local Berwick Care Home to read and listen to residents telling stories, both traditional and new.

Storytelling at St Mary's

We have a passion for storytelling at St Mary’s, with the children getting daily sessions from staff reading everything from nursery ryhmes to an encyclopedia describing climate change! We read books chosen both by the children and the staff, so there is always something exciting to listen too.

We have a special storytelling corner in school where we keep a selection of our favourite books, as well as some new ones we may learn to love in the future. We also have an interactive TV area, where we listen to famous people read their favourite childhood stories from all over the world.

The St Mary's Reading Spine

As a school we have a set of books that all the children will read during their time with us. The collection of books is called our Reading Spine, and it is made up of an agreed set of books for each year group.  Our Reading Spine is the Pie Corbett Reading Spine.

Pie Corbett’s Reading Spine is a core of books that create a living library inside a child’s mind. It is a store of classics and essential reads that help children engage at a deeper level and enter the world of the story.

Bring reading to life with a classic read aloud programme, selected by literacy expert Pie Corbett
Foster a love of reading with the best-loved books for Nursery to Year 4
Deepen comprehension and teach drama and writing by drawing on the core books.
Imagine a primary school where, over seven or eight years, children are read to, enjoy, discuss and work with a core of around 80 books. These ‘essential reads’ would be a store of classics, creating a living library inside a child’s mind. This is the ‘reading spine’. Schools that have a reading spine build a common bank of stories that bind the community together.”

Pie Corbett, Literacy expert

Our Top 100 Books to Read before you leave!

At St Mary’s we have worked with the children to create a library that reflects the children’s interests and passions. Each calss has an author of the term to follow and enjoy, from Rohld Dahyl to Stuart Reid, the sets of books are designed to encourage reading beyond what is being taught in the class room.

From January 2020 we have also launched our 100 books to enjoy before you leave St Mary’s.  The children chose the Scholastic top 100 books for children, as it was voted for by 1000 book-loving teachers across the UK and Ireland as their favourite books to share in class, in which you find an inspiring mix of new and old classics – perfect for instilling a love of reading in every child.

We have the 100 books in our stroytelling area in school for he children enjoy both independently and with their friends in class.

If you would like to find out what is in the top 100, simply click this link.

Ideas for parents to help reading improve.

Learn to pronounce the sounds!
Please watch the video below to learn how to pronounce the sounds correctly, they need a little practice but the effort is worth it!

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Great ideas from Read Write Inc. to help your child become a confident and fluent reader.

Saying sounds correctly

This is really important when you are helping your child to learn the sounds. Just remember not to add an uh to the end of the consonant sounds – so say mmm not muh, lll not luh, etc. because then later it’s easier to blend the sounds together to make words.

Linking sounds to letters 

Encourage your child to make a link between the sound and the written letter shape. Start with the sounds in your child’s name and then look out for them in signs. The sound m in McDonalds is always a good starting point too!
Sounds represented by more than one letter 

Some sounds are represented by more than one letter such as sh inship, ch in chat, th in thin, qu in quick and ng in sing. When you’re out and about point out examples of these to your child too. You might see them in posters, signs, or leaflets.

Practise, practise, practise 

Build up a knowledge of the letters and sounds quite quickly with your child and keep practising so that it becomes automatic. Keep reminding ‘Do you remember when we were talking about the sound ch…?’, or ‘Oh look! There’s a big t (sound) on that poster!’.

Putting sounds together to read simple words 

Say the sounds c-a-t to read cat, sh-o-p to read shop and s-t-r-ee-t to read street. If your child gets stuck and is struggling to blend the sounds, say the sounds yourself, quickly, until your child can hear the word! Only beginner readers need to sound out every word as they read all the time. But, they will still need to work out new and long words.

Tricky words 

Some everyday words in English have tricky spellings and can’t be read by blending. Imagine trying to read the word said or does by blending each letter! These are sometimes called high frequency tricky words, or Red words. These words just have to be learned by sight and flashcard-type games are a good way to practise these.

Reading books 

Schools using a synthetic phonics scheme are likely to be sending home decodable books. This means the books contain mostly words that children can read by sounding out to get them off to a good start with independent reading. After your child has read a page, you can read it aloud again, to make sure that the story is enjoyed and understood.

Using pictures 

Pictures are great for sharing and talking about a story (which is really important too!) but don’t encourage your child to use pictures to guess the words that they don’t already know.

Writing letters 

Teach your child how to write the letters as the letter sounds are learned. And don’t forget to show your child how to hold the pencil correctly too!

Common sense … Lots and lots of books!

Carry on sharing and reading lots and lots of stories and information books to and with your child.

Praise and hugs!

Most importantly, remember that your child will learn much faster with encouragement, praise and hugs.

Parent Workshop and Resources

If you would like to download our presentation for parents in how to support reading at home please click on the link below:

Why not download our parent leaflet to help you use Read Write Inc at home:

Hints and tips for encouraging your child to develop a passion for reading

Advice from The BookTrust, demonstrates reading books with children is a great way to spend family time. Research shows that exploring books can have lots of benefits for kids, and it’s also just fantastic family fun.

But we know that not everyone feels comfortable about reading aloud or sharing stories, which is why The BookTrust have put together some helpful hints for parents and carers.

Here you’ll find advice about reading as a family, including video examples of enjoying books with children and a guide to what makes a good storyteller. You can also find top tips for engaging reluctant readers and encouraging older children to read.

Top tips for family reading