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St Joseph's Selly Oak

St Joseph's Catholic Primary School - Kings Norton, Birmingham

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Early Reading & Phonics Programme

Reading is at the heart of the curriculum at St Joseph's. In our school, all pupils are encouraged to become confident, critical and independent readers. They read for a variety of purposes, information and interest. Primarily,  we ensure children read for pleasure in order to develop a lifelong love of reading.

Early Reading



At St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, we endeavour to provide a language rich environment that promotes speech, language and communication opportunities to strengthen children's speaking and listening skills in their own right, as well as to prepare children for learning to read fluently as quickly as possible.

We follow the detailed and systematic programme ‘Read, Write Inc’ designed in phases to provide the essential phonics skills that develop competent readers.

Please click for further information on 'Read, Write, Inc.'

Teachers are ambitious in their expectations of the sounds and words that all children should be able to read by the end of each term. As children progress through the school, they will learn the 44 sounds of the alphabetic code and the corresponding letter groups.

In Reception they will learn the initial letter sounds and their matching graphemes. The key skill of oral blending and segmenting is woven into all aspects of phonics teaching to support the children to quickly progress to blending sounds together to help them to read CVC words.

Please click this link for further information and teaching of our phonics programme RWI

In Year 2 the children will revise and consolidate the previous phases and complete the programme where the main aim is for them to become more fluent readers and more accurate spellers.

This consistent and rigorous approach will provide all of our children with the foundations to engage with and develop a love of reading.

Please click for useful resources and parental workshop slides introducing RWI




We use synthetic phonics and follow the ‘Read, Write, Inc.’ programme; this is a method of learning letter sounds and blending them together to read and write words. In addition to this, children are taught sight words linked to the National Curriculum.

As part of this, children have daily direct whole class & group phonics teaching sessions following the Revisit and Review, Teach, Practise and Apply. 

The guided practice that takes place during the 'Teach' part of the lesson is scaffolded to support less confident readers and adult support including direct interaction with the teacher and teaching assistant is targeted towards these children during this part of the lesson.

'Practise and Apply' activities are carefully matched to learning needs to ensure children are successful when they move onto independent work. Teachers draw upon observations and continuous assessment to ensure children are stretched and challenged and to identify children who may need additional support. Same day ‘catch up’ interventions take place for those children who are not working at ARE. Children work through the relevant phases, learning and developing their phonics sounds and knowledge. Progress is tracked at the end of each half term and interventions are planned to close the gaps identified.


Many activities take place which promote pre-reading skills. Children become aware of print in their environment and begin to match pictures and words. Language comprehension is developed by talking and reading to the children and opportunities are identified across the curriculum to extend their knowledge and vocabulary. Initially, as children learn to read, they are given a picture book with no words with the intention that they will share the book and take part in a conversation generated by the pictures. Gradually, as the children's knowledge of letters and sounds develop they begin to phonetically decode words.

Our guided reading books are fully decodable and are organised into Phonics Phases. The Year 1 and Year 2 classes have a daily guided reading session. Each session has a different focus to develop the skills of prediction, decoding, comprehension, inference and prosody. This book is then sent home so that their reading is practised and reinforced at home. Children are able to take an additional free choice book home, which exposes them to phonics beyond their phase to share and read for pleasure. 




Ongoing formative assessment takes place within each phonics lesson and half termly assessments are completed using our assessment tracker. Formative assessment includes: teacher observations within each part of the lesson and the application of phonic knowledge throughout the curriculum, questioning and discussions. These outcomes are fed forward into timely teacher intervention and subsequent planning to ensure gaps in phonological knowledge are closed and progress is not limited.

Children’s progress is continually reviewed to allow for movement into same day catch up intervention groups. Children are regularly moved onto the next RWI phase sets when their fluency and understanding show that they are ready. Children move through the phases until they reach the required standard to become a Free-Reader, choosing a book to read from our well-stocked school or class libraries.

The National Phonics Screening Check is performed in June of Year 1. The purpose of the screening check is to confirm that all children have learned phonic decoding to an age-appropriate standard. The children who did not meet the required standard for the check in year 1 enter again in year 2 with additional support provided to close identified gaps. As children enter KS2, provision is made for those children still requiring daily phonics intervention.

Pupil progress will also identify precise actions and objectives for targeted focus children, including the lowest 20% who may not meet the required standard of the Phonics Screening Check.

We recognise that quality first teaching in phonics is the essential first step in improving outcomes for all children. With this in mind, we ensure that teachers and teaching assistants are kept up to date on the latest initiatives and news through continuous professional development either by outside providers or within school. In response to monitoring, evaluation and review outcomes, weaker areas in staff subject knowledge and pedagogy are addressed with timely support.

Reading for Pleasure

Our 100 Book Challenge