At St Bernadette’s we know that the key to a successful school career is learning to read. Because of this, we strive to teach children to read effectively and quickly using the Read Write Inc. Phonics (RWI) programme from when our children start with us in EYFS and throughout Key Stage 1. This includes teaching synthetic phonics, sight vocabulary, decoding and encoding words as well as spelling and accurate letter formation.

Being able to read opens up a world of possibilities, developing self esteem and enabling children to access all the other areas of the school curriculum. Ensuring that they can read as soon as possible is the best way for us to ensure that all our children are able to reach their full potential.

As soon as children begin school at St Bernadette’s they begin to learn the 44 common sounds in the English language and are taught how to blend these sounds to decode (read) words. We also place a great importance on pre reading skills such as saying and hearing the sounds in words and developing vocabulary through speaking and listening activities in order to prepare our children to learn to read.

Initially, we teach our 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 in these initial sounds, children learn Set 2 and Set 3 sounds which are vowel digraphs and trigraphs. They can 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 group which matches their phonic knowledge and application.

By using the Read Write Inc book bag books, we make sure that pupils read books that are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ability to read ‘tricky words’. In this way, they experience early reading success and gain the confidence required to truly enjoy reading and become ‘lifelong readers’.

How you can help at home

Practise recognising and saying the sounds that your child is working in using the Speed Sounds booklets which we send home. This is an excellent video demonstrating the correct way to pro-nounce the sounds we use when reading:

Parent video: How to say the sounds

Read to your children and discuss the story; children can develop really important reading skills even if they are not the ones doing the reading!

 Listen to your child read their book bag book. To develop fluency and enable comprehension of the text it is important that you read the story more than once. Ideally read the story every night until it is changed by the class teacher.

Read other books together. There are online versions of the Read Write Inc books which we read with children in school here: