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Westcliffe Primary School

'Our school is committed to inspirational teaching that develops aspirational young people.'

Reading and Phonics

Phonics and Reading Rationale


Phonics: Read Write Inc:

At Westcliffe Primary, we use Read, Write Inc as our validated Systematic Synthetic Phonics programme. Our pupils learn to read and write effectively and quickly using the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme from Day 1 as they enter Early Years Foundation Stage. The programme is for pupils from Early Years to Year 2 who are learning to read and write and any other pupils who still require support with phonics in Key Stage 2.


At Westcliffe Primary School, we endeavour to develop children’s understanding and skills to become independent, enthusiastic readers. Our priority is to foster a love of reading, even in reluctant readers, and we firstly facilitate this in the classroom, where teachers expose children to a wide range of genres and authors as well as showing their own enthusiasm for books and literature. Secondly, we are proud of the reading ethos created from our reading environment that runs through the heart of our school (each classroom opening onto it). This reading culture is sustained with the help of a committed and passionate librarian and each class having a dedicated time in the library; ensuring all children have time to explore, discuss and delve into texts.


While phonics and fluency will be emphasised in the early teaching of reading, immersive whole-class reading sessions later take precedent and we use challenging texts to ensure our reading curriculum offers ambition and challenge. These sessions help develop and embed fluency and prosody to aid comprehension, while allowing children to select, explain, explore and consolidate new vocabulary. We strive to help all children understand that the language they have acquired may be relevant across all areas of their learning and, consequently, we have high expectations that they apply new language where possible.


We utilise a range of strategies to engage all children in reading. These include:

  • A team of pupil librarians
  • Reading Buddies (Year 5s supporting Y3s)
  • Partnerships working with the Imagination Library, Words Count and Sarah Tipler and the Humberside Police
  • Dedicated story time across school
  • Daily story time with the librarian, KS1 and EYFS
  • End of day story with the librarian, KS1 and EYFS


Whole school reading expectations

3 reads a week:

Children are expected to read at least 3 times a week at home although there are opportunities for them to read to an adult in school if they are unable to read at home through no fault of their own. Reluctant readers are quickly identified and encouraged to find a book or author they will engage with. Competitions are also in place to further inspire reluctant readers and keep the profile of reading high.



The overarching aim for English in the national curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written language, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The national curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • read easily, fluently and with good understanding
  • develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information
  • acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language
  • appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage
  • write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences
  • use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas
  • are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.



The programmes of study for reading at key stages 1 and 2 consist of 2 dimensions:

  • word reading
  • comprehension (both listening and reading)

It is essential that teaching focuses on developing pupils’ competence in both dimensions; different kinds of teaching are needed for each.


Skilled word reading involves both the speedy working out of the pronunciation of unfamiliar printed words (decoding) and the speedy recognition of familiar printed words. Underpinning both is the understanding that the letters on the page represent the sounds in spoken words. This is why phonics should be emphasised in the early teaching of reading to beginners (i.e. unskilled readers) when they start school.


Good comprehension draws from linguistic knowledge (in particular of vocabulary and grammar) and on knowledge of the world. Comprehension skills develop through pupils’ experience of high-quality discussion with the teacher, as well as from reading and discussing a range of stories, poems and non-fiction. All pupils must be encouraged to read widely across both fiction and non-fiction to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world they live in, to establish an appreciation and love of reading, and to gain knowledge across the curriculum. Reading widely and often increases pupils’ vocabulary because they encounter words they would rarely hear or use in everyday speech. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure house of wonder and joy for curious young minds.


It is essential that, by the end of their primary education, all pupils are able to read fluently, and with confidence, in any subject in their forthcoming secondary education.


How the subject is taught:


Phonics and early reading

In direct reference to National Curriculum and Ofsted expectations, we will ensure that:


  • direct, focused phonics is taught every day in Reception and Key Stage 1
  • children read from books with the sounds they know, while they are learning to read
  • teachers and teaching assistants provide extra practice through the day for the children who make the slowest progress (the lowest 20%)
  • all children in Year 3 and above can read age-appropriate books
  • teachers instil in children a love of literature: a wide range of stories and poems, set in the UK and around the world, both modern and traditional, as well as non-fiction.


Phonics: Read Write Inc:

Our pupils learn to read and write effectively and quickly using the Read Write Inc. Phonics programme.

The programme is for:

  • Pupils in Early Years to Year 2 who are learning to read and write
  • Any other pupils who still require support with phonics.


In Read Write Inc. Phonics pupils:

  • Decode letter-sound correspondences quickly and effortlessly, using their phonic knowledge and skills
  • Read common exception words on sight (red words)
  • Understand what they read
  • Read aloud with fluency and expression
  • Write confidently, with a strong focus on vocabulary and grammar
  • Spell quickly and easily by segmenting the sounds in words


Years 2-6


RIC – Comprehension

Within our school, all children from Year 1 to 6 take part in two taught RIC sessions per week. These sessions include a Short RIC exploring all three question types (RI and C) or an assisted reading sessions focusing on expression and prosody. They then complete an extended reading comprehension activity working at their level, focussing on their area to develop. When the children reach Year 6, children are then practising and improving their skills when answering all three question types.


R – Retrieve. Finding and retrieving information straight from the text.

I – Interpret. Using clues from the text to interpret what is not clearly stated.

C – Choice. Looking at the author/creators intended effect on the audience.


Assisted Reading

We use assisted reading, through echo, peer and choral reading, so that children embed appropriate volume, tone, emphasis, phrasing, and other elements in oral expression, and consequently evidence that they are actively interpreting or constructing meaning from a text.


At Westcliffe, assisted reading is not just isolated to once a week in a reading lesson. The opportunity to use assisted reading is also found when teaching in the wider curriculum and our driver sessions, in addition to all teaching staff and teaching assistants using assisted reading when reading with children 1:1, modelling good reading using correct expression and prosody. For more information about assisted reading and how parents/carers can help at home please click here.



  • twice a week
  • children practise specific comprehension skills (retrieve, inference and choice)
  • children read an extended piece of text and answer a range of questions to show their comprehension
  • teachers instil in children a love of literature: a wide range of stories and poems, set in the UK and around the world, both modern and traditional, as well as non-fiction


If you walk into a reading lesson, you will see:

  • interactions between children and teachers; back and forth talk about language and texts
  • children reading independently from age appropriate texts
  • the deliberate teaching of vocabulary as an integral part of improving comprehension and a way of consistently exposing our children to tier 2 and tier 3 words
  • teachers explicitly modelling reading comprehension skills and children applying their retrieval and inferential skills
  • a range of assisted reading strategies to improve fluency and prosody


If you have any further questions about reading in our school, please contact Miss Megan Ross or Mrs Carrie Thomson (RWI Lead).