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Early Reading and Phonics

Early Reading at Bramber Primary 


At Bramber Primary School we aim for all our children to become fluent, confident readers who have a love for reading and books. We were pleased that our October 2023 Ofsted inspection recognised early reading as a strength of our school:


"The reading curriculum is thoughtfully organised. Pupils read regularly and teachers ensure that books match pupils’ phonics understanding. All staff are consistent in the way they teach phonics and reading. Staff support and encourage readers well. Pupils respond positively and enthusiastically to this. The school has made reading a clear priority." 


We use a recognised scheme, Read Write Inc., which is a systematic and synthetic approach to teaching phonics. Our teaching staff are trained in this approach and confidently teach children to recognise letters (graphemes) and their associated sounds (phonemes).


We inspire children with excellent, thoughtful texts and staff's own love of books from their first day at Bramber and develop this on an individual level throughout their time at our school. We nurture a culture where children take pride in their reading and writing journeys, so that they feel prepared to embrace their futures in education and beyond. As a result to this dedicated approach to reading early on, our children are successful in Key Stage 2 and move on to secondary schools as confident and passionate readers. 


To achieve that initial aim at Bramber we:

  • Follow Read Write Inc.: a phonics scheme that helps your child read and write at school
  • Encourage children to develop a love of books by reading to them and with them daily, at home and at school
  • Give children access to a wide range of books at school and at home
  • Carefully consider how we teach reading within the wider curriculum.


What is Read Write Inc?

Read Write Inc (RWI) is a phonics complete literacy programme which helps all children learn to read fluently and at speed so they can focus on developing their skills in comprehension, vocabulary and spelling.  The programme is designed for children aged 4-7. Where children need to secure their reading skills past KS1, we continue teaching RWI to children beyond the age of 7, as we use a stage not age approach. 


Parent Video: What is Read Write Inc. Phonics?


How will my child be taught to read?

We start by teaching phonics to the children in our Duckling class as soon as our baseline assessments are completed, in the meantime we focus on early speaking and listening provision. The children learn how to ‘read’ the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down. This is essential for reading, but it also helps children learn to spell well. We teach the children simple ways of remembering these sounds and letters. Duckling families can find out more about reception phonics on the Duckling class page. 



The children:

  • Learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letters/letter groups using simple picture prompts – see below
  • Learn to read words using Fred talk and sound blending
  • Read from a range of storybooks and non-fictions books matched to their phonic knowledge
  • Work well with partners
  • Develop comprehension skills in stories by answering 'Find It' and 'Prove It' discussion questions


The children:

  • Learn to write and form the letters/letter groups which represent the 44 sounds with the help of fun phrases
  • Learn to write words by using Fred Talk
  • Learn to build sentences by practising sentences out loud before they write 


The children:

  • Work in pairs 
  • Answer every question
  • Practise every activity with their partner
  • Take turns in talking and reading to each other
  • Develop ambitious vocabulary


Progressing through the stages

Children in Early Years are introduced to initial sounds. Children then begin to learn how to 'read' the sound in words and how those sounds be can be written down. As children progress, they follow the same format as Early Years but will work on complex sounds and read books appropriate to their reading level. Daily sessions of RWI phonics last 30 minutes. Once children become fluent speedy readers they will move on to the Year 2 curriculum spelling objectives which will be taught during bespoke daily lessons planned by Bramber staff, enhanced by the RWI Spelling programme.


Five key principles underpin the teaching in all Read Write Inc. sessions:  

Purpose – know the purpose of every activity and share it with the children, so they know the one thing they should be thinking about

Participation – ensure every child participates throughout the lesson. Partnership work is fundamental to learning

Praise – ensure children are praised for effort and learning, not ability

Pace – teach at an effective pace and devote every moment to teaching and learning

Passion – be passionate about teaching so children can be engaged emotionally.


Children will be taught how to read as follows:

Before you start to teach your child, practice saying the sounds below. These are the sounds we use to speak in English. Children initially begin using pictures for each sound, this will help children recognise the sound and then form the shape of the sound. 


Parent Video: How to Say the Sounds


Fred Talk

We use pure sounds (‘m’ not’ muh’,’s’ not ‘suh’, etc.) so that your child will be able to blend the sounds into words more easily.

At school we use a puppet called Fred who is an expert on sounding out words! we call it, ‘Fred Talk’. E.g. m-o-p, c-a-t, m-a-n, sh-o-p, b-l-a-ck.

The children are taught the sounds in 3 sets.

Step 1:

Set 1 Sounds are taught in the following order together with rhymes to help children form the letters correctly and instantly recognise sounds ready for blending.

Step 2:

The children are then taught Set 2 Sounds - the long vowels. When they are very confident with all of set 1 and 2 they are taught Set 3 Sounds.

Step 3:

Within all the  RWI sessions/books children will be exposed to red and green words to learn to help them to become speedy readers. Red words are words that are not easily decodable and challenge words to extend children’s vocabulary. These often match the Year 1 and Year 2 curriculum words. Green words are linked to the sounds they have been learning and are easily decodable.

Dots and dashes represent the sound each letter makes.

During the RWI session children will read the book three times and at each new reading they will have plenty of opportunities to practise using their developing comprehension skills. You may have heard your child talking about ‘hold, edit or build a sentence’.

Hold a sentence is an activity that encourages children to remember a whole sentence while focusing on spelling and punctuation.

Build a sentence is to give children the opportunity to create their own sentence to that shows the meaning of a word and edit a sentence allows the children to critique a sentence using their knowledge of spelling punctuation and grammar. Children complete a longer piece of independent writing, which gives them the opportunity to show off their creativity and to practice their spelling, grammar and punctuation.


Nonsense words (Alien words)


As well as learning to read and blend real words children will have plenty of opportunities to apply their sound recognition skills on reading ‘Nonsense words’. These words will also feature heavily in the Year One Phonics Screening check in the summer term.  These words provide endless opportunities for children to apply and practice their thinking in a range of different contexts. 

To help at home:

At school, we read the 'ditty' and 'set' books which aid application, speed and fluency to develop speedy reading. We will read this book daily as part of the Read Write Inc. sessions.  Children read 1:1 with an adult regularly in addition to these group reads, to aid the teaching of reading. 

Children will bring home a 'book bag book', relating to their reading stage. This book will also encourage comprehension, either through questions in the book or inspired by the list below, which will begin to enrich their reading. 

We regularly visit the library to ensure children have access to the fantastic, high-quality texts we have at school. These books may not be decodable but are there to enjoy at home with an adult to develop a love of books. 

As staff, we really appreciate how supportive parents are in recording their child's reading.  Using the reading records provided, we can see an accurate picture of your child's reading journey. Below are some ways to support the recording of comments in these record books. 


Our love for reading shines through everything we do. We are proud of the books that we share and promote as part of daily teaching and learning. Teachers at Bramber promote books in a number of ways and work closely with children to ensure their reading diet has good range.  We use daily story time as an opportunity to discuss, question and love the books we read across a range of genres including fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Parent video: Why read to your child?

Uploaded by Ruth Miskin Training on 2019-09-12.