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English Reading including Phonics

"A child who reads will be an adult who thinks."

- Proverb

Reading at St Charles'

At St Charles' Primary School, we strive to promote a love of reading in all that we do. Our bespoke curriculum has a vast selection of rich and inspirational stories at its center; we ensure that pupils have lots of opportunities to read in lots of different contexts. Key texts woven through each area of study, meaning that learning is linked to storytelling and therefore engaging and relevant. We believe that being a fluent and avid reader opens doors for children to the wider world and gives them the tools they need to be lifelong learners. It is out mission to ensure that all children leave us at the end of Year 6 as fluent and avid readers,  in order to thrive in Key Stage Three and beyond.

At St Charles' Primary School, we immerse children in high quality literature across the school. Pupils read regularly in all areas of the curriculum and we strive to develop children's love of reading  through:

  • Whole Class Text Study - English lessons are taught through a quality text which is strategically chosen to challenge children and to align closely with wider curriculum objectives. Across the academic year, texts in each year group will include a literary classic as well as texts which have been chosen due to the rich language exploration and opportunities for vocabulary development they offer. Children will engage in an in depth study as part of their lessons which promotes a deeper comprehension of the text before pausing the book study to embark on a sequence of work which results in a written outcome, linked to the text. Where appropriate, class texts are studied as model's for children's own narrative writing. 
  • Whole Class Reading Lessons - Children in Key Stage Two and Year 2 (when reading fluently) enjoy whole class reading lessons, during which they are immersed in the class text. These sessions provide further opportunity to read aloud, modelling reading with expression and intonation, as well as exploring plot, themes, vocabulary and inferred meaning in depth as a whole class. Rich tasks are planned for these sessions, through which children develop key reading comprehension competencies, focusing on vocabulary; infer; predict; explain; retrieve; and summarise/sequence (VIPERS).
  • Reading Across the Curriculum - Pupils are read to or read a range of books themselves linked to other areas of their learning. There is a focus on 'reading to learn' across foundation curriculum areas, with children engaging in wider research, both online and through fiction and non-fiction texts.
  • Story Time - Across the whole school, books are read aloud and shared with pupils, helping children to hear expressive reading and to develop an enthusiasm for reading books themselves. Class books are shared with pupils daily, where they read along with the teacher. Teachers read carefully selected books from our school reading spine. 
  • Library - Every class from Nursery to Year 6 visit our school library every week. The children spend time browsing the book selection, reading snippets of the texts before signing out a book of their choice for the week. Our school library is the heart of school and is open during break time and lunch time for children to enjoy reading for pleasure.

Phonics at St Charles'

We follow the Read Write Inc (RWI) phonics programme to get children off to a flying start with their reading. RWI is a method of learning centered around letter sounds and phonics, we use it to aid children in their reading and writing.

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

When using RWI to read the children will:

  • learn that sounds are represented by written letters
  • learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letter/letter groups using simple picture prompts
  • learn how to blend sounds
  • 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
  • learn to write red words (common exception words)
  • write simple sentences

Parent Videos

The Read Write Inc Website has some great tutorial videos to help you understand how Read Write Inc works and how you can support your child at home:

Frequently Asked Questions

Where else can I find information?

Watch video tutorials on to help you to understand more about Read Write Inc. Phonics and how to help your child read and write at home.

How can I support my child’s reading and writing?

Here are the top five things you can do.

See the other FAQs for further detail.

  1. Ask your child to read the Speed Sound cards speedily
  2. Use Fred Talk to help your child read and spell words
  3. Listen to your child read their Read Write Inc. Storybook every day
  4. Practise reading Green and Red Words in the Storybook speedily
  5. Read stories to your child every day.
What will my child bring home to read?
  • Read Write Inc. Storybooks: contain sounds and words the children know. This is the Storybook they have just read at school and maybe some they have read before, for extra practice. Please don’t worry that books are too easy. Children enjoy re-reading stories they know well. Their speed and understanding improves on every read.
  • Book Bag Books: matched to the Storybooks children read in school and used for extra practice. They include many of the same reading activities that we use in class and include parent guidance.
  • Picture books to share with you: read these stories to children or encourage them to retell the story by looking at the pictures. They are not expected to read the story themselves.
  • Speed Sounds cards: for children to practise reading speedily. If needed, show your child the picture side of the card to help them remember the sound.
  • Red Word book pages: challenge your child to read the Red Words speedily across the rows and down the columns. Set a timer – can they beat yesterday’s time?
How can I support my child to learn Set 1 sounds and to blend?
  • Practise reading known Set 1 Speed Sounds cards speedily. If needed, show your child the picture side of the card to help them remember the sound.

We teach children to read and spell using Fred. He is a toy frog who can say the sounds in words, but not the whole word. Children have to help him.

To help children learn to blend, we say the sounds as Fred and then children repeat the sounds and say the whole word.

Here are two ways you can use Fred Talk at home:

  1. Play Fred Games together – see Fred Games document on
  2. Speak like Fred throughout the day e.g. time for l-u-n-ch! Let’s p-l-ay!
How can I support my child to learn Set 2 or 3 sounds?
How do I listen to my child read?

Your child has a Storybook matched to the sounds and words they know – a decodable book – so they should be able to read all the words.

Please avoid saying, “This book is too easy for you!” but instead say “I love how well you can read this book!”

‘Special Friends’, ‘Fred Talk’, read the word

Remind your child to read words using ‘Special Friends, Fred Talk, read the word’ (see glossary).

For example ‘ship’: spot the ‘sh’, then Fred Talk and blend to read the word e.g. sh, sh-i-p, ship.

Red Words

Red Words are also known as common exception or tricky words. They occur in stories regularly (said, what, where) but have unusual letter combinations (‘ai’ in the word ‘said’ makes the sound ‘e’).

Remind your child not to use Fred Talk to read Red Words but instead to ‘stop and think’, 'You can't Fred a red'.

Read the same book again and again

Children love reading the same book again and again. Their reading becomes speedier and they understand what they are reading.

  • Encourage your child to read words using ‘Fred in your head’ (see glossary)
  • Show your child how to read the story in a storyteller voice
  • Share your enjoyment of the story when they read it again and again.
What do I do with the picture books?

One of the most important things you can do as a parent at home is read to your child.

Loving stories is important because children who love stories want to read stories for themselves. Children who read a lot become better readers.

Here are some top tips for story time:

  1. Make it a treat – introduce each new book with excitement
  2. Make it a special quiet time – cuddle up!
  3. Show curiosity in what you’re going to read
  4. Read the story once without stopping so they can enjoy the whole story. If you think your child might not understand something say something like ‘Oh I think what’s happening here is that…”
  5. Chat about the story e.g. I wonder why he did that? Oh no, I hope she’s not going to…
  6. Avoid asking questions to check what they remember
  7. Link to other stories and experiences you have shared e.g. this reminds me of…
  8. Read favourite stories over and over again – encourage your child to join with the bits they know. Avoid saying ‘not that story again!’
  9. Use different voices – be enthusiastic!
  10. Love the book – read with enjoyment
How can I help my child to practise their handwriting?

Remind your child:

Challenge your child to see how many sounds they can write in a minute.

Say the sound and children write e.g. ‘write m’, ‘write s’, ‘write w’.

How can I help my child to spell words?
  • Encourage your child to use Fred Fingers to spell words
  • Ask your child to say the sounds in the word as they pinch the sounds onto their fingers
  • Ask your child to then write the letters – if they get stuck, say the sounds again
  • Praise your child for spelling using the sounds they know, even if their handwriting is not perfect.
How else can I develop my child’s language?

Children will have a large vocabulary if they are part of a ‘talk-a-lot’ family:

  • Use every opportunity to talk with your child throughout the day – meal times, playing together, bath time
  • Use new and ambitious vocabulary e.g. miserable instead of sad, stroll instead of walk
  • Speak to your child in complete sentences
  • Make up stories together - there’s no need to write it down.