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Holy Family

Catholic Primary School

Living, Loving, Learning as followers of Jesus Christ

Reading & Phonics

Reading Curriculum

Reading is at the heart of our curriculum.  At Holy Family we want our children to become enthusiastic, engaged readers and to develop a life-long love of books.  We know that reading is important for both educational purposes as well as personal development, as  it builds empathy, improves imagination and language development.


The teaching of reading at Holy Family is based on children having lots of opportunities to read widely, read fluently, understand what they are reading and have a love of books. In EYFS and KS1, children will be immersed in a variety of stories daily to empower children to be able to “read” and retell stories from a young age alongside phonics teaching that follows the government validated phonics programme Read Write Inc. They will also engage in a weekly whole class reading lesson that unpicks one of the stories in the week in a little more detail. In KS2, children will be read their Class Novel daily, will engage with a whole class reading lesson each week and be provided with further opportunities to read in order to develop their substantive and disciplinary knowledge across the curriculum 


Through the whole class reading sessions, children will be exposed to a breadth of age appropriate texts- fiction, non-fiction, rhymes, poetry and song- and concepts discussed have been designed and balanced to reflect the diverse nature of society and develop their cultural capital. The focus of the whole class reading sessions will follow the VIPERS approach but with the four key strands of reading comprehension: retrieval, vocabulary/word meaning, inference and deduction, and summarising being the minimum foci each week.


What is phonics?

Phonics is a way of teaching children to read quickly and skilfully. They are taught how to:

  • Recognise the sounds that individual letters make
  • Identify the sounds that different combinations of letters make-such as 'sh' or 'oo'
  • Blend these sounds together from left to right to make a word

Children can then use this knowledge to 'decode' new words that they hear or see. This is the first important step in learning to read.

The children are taught to read words by blending, which means pushing all the sounds together to make a word.  The children are taught to spell words by segmenting, which means sounding out words and writing down the sounds they can hear.


Why phonics?

Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way-starting with the easiest sounds and progressing to the most complex-it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. It is particularly helpful for children aged 5 to 7 years old. Almost all children who receive good teaching of phonics will learn the skills that they need to tackle new words. Children can go on to read any kind of text fluently and confidently, and read for enjoyment. (Department for Education)


Read, Write, Inc

At Holy Family Catholic Primary School, we use the Read Write Inc (RWI) programme to get children off to a flying start with their early literacy skills. It is a phonics 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.

RWI was developed by Ruth Miskin and more information on this can be found at


Miss Crouch and Mrs Appleton are our Phonics lead teachers, so if you have questions about phonics, contact school who can refer you to them. Please take the time to read the information as it will provide invaluable information as to how you can help and support your child in reading.


Reading Stamina

Reading stamina is actively promoted across school. It is expected that all children will read 90 words per minute of an age appropriate text from Year 2 onwards. Based on their year group, the children are given a passage to read within a set amount of time.


By the end of each academic year, it is expected that:

In Year 1 children will read 60 words of an age appropriate text in one minute.

In Year 2 children will read 270 words of an age appropriate text in three minutes.

In Year 3 children will read 270 words of an age appropriate text in three minutes.

In Year 4 children will read 360 words of an age appropriate text in four minutes.

In Year 5 children will read 450 words of an age appropriate text in five minutes.

In Year 6 children will read extended texts at 90 words per minute (in line with end of KS2 testing)


To help children achieve this, all children in Year 1 to 6 are to complete a reading speed assessment at the start of the year. Children need to read the given passage for their year group with the class teacher/TA. If they achieve 90 words or more in a minute, they do not need to be assessed further in this way; if they achieve less than 90 words, they should be implicitly targeted with 1:1 reading on a daily basis. They will then need to be assessed for their reading stamina at the end of each term.


Reading for Pleasure

There is a positive relationship between reading frequency, reading enjoyment and attainment. Children who read for pleasure have increased concentration, memory, confidence, greater self-esteem and general knowledge. Your child should therefore be encouraged to read at home for 10 minutes or more each day.  Your support is hugely important for developing their reading skills, confidence and understanding.  Even if your child is an independent reader, it is still important for you to read with them, listen to them and discuss the books they are reading. 


As children learn the skills needed to read in KS1, they will bring home levelled books (according to their stage of development) for them to practise their decoding and a reading for pleasure book, which is to be shared with/read to them. Once children have developed their ability to decode and their fluency, as they progress into KS2,  children will bring home an age appropriate self-selected book from their class reading corner or corridor book shelves.  Please encourage your child to change their book regularly so they can read each evening; speak to the class teacher if this is not happening.


Furthermore, recommended reads appropriate for your child’s age and topic of study or interests will be shared with you on a regular basis via either the school newsletter or class pages.