Curriculum Intent

At Istead Rise Primary School, we are passionate about ensuring children become independent, fluent readers and writers. We believe that the teaching of phonics from Early Years until the end of Key Stage 1, not only holds the key for children to access all subjects within the curriculum, but also raises children’s self-esteem and confidence, providing opportunities for their future. Through a highly structured and systematic synthetic approach to teaching phonics, we strive to give our children high quality oracy, reading and writing experiences. Children will be able to apply their understanding of letters and sounds to decode a range of words which will enable them to read books that are closely matched to their phonic knowledge. When writing, children will be able to make phonetically plausible attempts at unfamiliar words, enabling them to write with an appropriate level of independence for their age. They will also be able to use their phonic knowledge to correctly apply a range of spelling rules to words. 


Curriculum Implementation

Within the early teaching of reading, children in Early Years and Year 1 follow a systematic synthetic phonics programme called ‘Read Write Inc’. The RWInc  programme is a method of learning letter sounds and blending and segmenting them together to read and write words. Children will also develop decoding and speedy word recognition which will enable them to become fluent and confident readers. 

In Early Years and Year 1 at the beginning of the academic year, phonics is taught to the whole class to ensure that learning is accessible to all children. As the year progresses and assessments are made, children are placed into targeted groups accordingly. Daily sessions are delivered by fully trained practitioners and are structured so that children participate in speaking, listening, reading, writing and spelling activities. Practitioners delivering RWInc. lessons will have access to quality training materials and attend regular coaching sessions to ensure that teaching is consistent across all groups and always to a high standard.

Phonics teaching begins with children learning the English alphabetic code. They will learn one way to read the 40+ sounds and blend these sounds into words. They will then learn to read the same sounds with alternative graphemes. Children will learn letters, sounds and groups of letters through three sets of Speed Sounds. These sounds are taught in the following order:

Set 1: m a s d t i n p g o c k u b f e l h r j v y w z sh, th, ch qu ng nk

Set 2: ay ee igh ow oo oo ar or air ir ou oy

Set 3: ea oi a-e i-e o-e u-e aw are ur er ow ai oa ew ire ear ure tion tious/cious

RWInc Phonic cards, together with simple and enjoyable mnemonics help children to recognise the letter-sound correspondences quickly. Children work through the different phases, learning and developing their phonics sounds and knowledge in a fun and engaging way.  High frequency words that are not decodable are taught as ‘red words’ and are practised frequently.  The children will also be given regular opportunities to read sounds, words and books in a variety of ways. RWinc books closely matched to the children’s phonic knowledge will be used to support whole class, individual, paired or group reading. In addition, class teachers will select stories, poems and non-fiction text daily to share with the children and support the development of vocabulary language and a love of reading. 

All children in Early Years and Year 1 will take home a RWInc book that is closely matched to their phonic knowledge. Children will also take home an unfamiliar book to share at home with their parents and carers. Sharing stories consistently supports their talking and listening skills and allows them to explore a range of vocabulary.  

By the end of Year 1, most children will have reached the threshold in phonics. For those children who do not pass the Phonic Screening Check, phonic groups will continue  following the RWInc programme. In Year 2, children will take home a RWInc book that is closely matched to their phonic knowledge. They will also take home an unfamiliar book to share at home with their parents and carers.  

To ensure children are stretched and challenged, practitioners draw upon daily observations and continuous assessment. Regular termly assessments such as: RWInc assessment, Mock Phonic Screening Checks, reading milestones and Reading Early Learning Goal (in EYFS), enable teachers to monitor and track childrens’ progress. Teachers ensure that children are grouped accordingly and will identify those who may need additional support , ensuring this is provided. We recognise that children learn at different paces and that a one fit approach may not meet the needs of all children. Teachers have the flexibility to be able to deliver and plan phonics lessons according to the needs of the child in their class. These lessons are delivered through a more creative and active approach and include inclusive and adaptive teaching strategies. These strategies support children who may have learning difficulties or those who are struggling to acquire age appropriate literacy skills.  

Children in Year 2 who have reached the required threshold in phonics will progress to the ‘further reader stage’ and take part in daily Whole Class Reading lessons where they will learn whole-class collaborative strategies , including oracy, vocabulary and comprehension. Teachers will choose a range of high quality texts (poems, fiction and non-fiction) that will be ambitious and engaging and model fluency and accuracy by reading the text aloud to the children, discussing the vocabulary. Children will then read the text individually or as part of a group. All children will have regular opportunities to echo and choral read, including those with SEND. Within these lessons, children will be able to show the breadth and depth of their understanding of a text through the use of written questions, which are differentiated where necessary. 

Children will answer questions that will involve:

  • retrieval of information

  • interpretation of meaning from a text

  • Understanding of the author’s use of language  


Teachers will support the children to answer the questions through modelling. Strategies will be taught and modelled to enable children to answer written questions.   

For ‘further readers’ children will choose a book to read in class and take home. The book they choose will match the ability of the child with the Lexile Levels. Teachers consistently seek to challenge children with their reading choices to ensure progress in fluency and language development is maintained. Reading experiences will be broadened through encouraging children to read widely through a range of fiction, poetry and non-fiction books to develop their knowledge of themselves and the world in which they live. 

To ensure children have the best opportunity to achieve age related expectations in reading, observations and assessments are ongoing and will include verbal questioning, written answers, paired work and listening to children read. 


Curriculum Impact

Through the teaching of synthetic systematic phonics, children feel confident in using their phonic knowledge and strategies that they have been taught to read and write words. This helps them to access a range of material and in turn fosters a love of reading. By taking books home that are closely matched to their phonic knowledge children can celebrate reading successes with their parents and carer which gives them the confidence and motivation to read regularly. These successes will have a positive impact on the progress that they make. Children will be able to make phonetically plausible attempts at spelling words and therefore communicate their ideas in writing across a range of purposes both in and out of school. Based on their phonic knowledge children will make good spelling choices and spell many words correctly.

We aspire for our children to:

  • Read at an age-appropriate level with fluency which enables them to access the broader curriculum.

  • Develop a life-long love of reading where they read widely and often, with fluency and comprehension.

  • Achieve and progress well at EYFS and Key Stage 1 assessment points.

  • Have the required phonics skills to pass the National Phonic Screening Check at the end of Year 1.