We are Companions on a Journey
English incorporates a variety of different areas of learning throughout our school, including reading, writing, grammar, phonics and spelling. Each area of learning is important in its own way and by using the knowledge and skills developed in these areas together, the children at St Columba's can achieve in all other curriculum subjects!
We plan our English curriculum based on the objectives as laid out in the National Curriculum document.
For more detailed information about the English curriculum at St. Columba's, please read our
English Curriculum statement.
Reading at St Columba's
At St Columba’s we aim for all our children to become fluent, confident readers who are passionate about reading.
Children who read regularly or are read to regularly have the opportunity to open the doors to so many different worlds! More importantly, reading will give your child the tools to become independent life-long learners.
We can achieve this together through:
At St Columba’s we use Read Write Inc Phonics (RWI) to give your child the best possible start with their literacy. We have put together a guide to how the RWI programme works together with some useful links.
Mrs Hewson is our Read Write Inc lead teacher, so if you have questions about RWI, contact school who can refer you to her. 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.
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. However, at St Columba's we begin the programme in Nursery and will continue teaching RWI to children beyond the age of 7 if they still need support in their reading.
RWI was developed by Ruth Miskin and more information on this can be found at
How will RWI be taught?
All children are assessed regularly by our RWI lead teacher so they work with children at the same level. This allows complete participation in lessons.
When appropriate, children will be introduced to the initial sounds in short five minutes sessions.
In Reception all children will learn how to ‘read’ the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down.
Year One and Year Two
Children follow the same format as Reception but will work on complex sounds and read books appropriate to their reading level. Daily sessions of RWI phonics last for forty - five minutes. As well as daily phonics, children will have English lessons which will allow them to embed their early reading skills learned through phonics and also help to develop further their writing, spelling and handwriting skills.
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, practise saying the sounds below. These are the sounds we use to speak in English.
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 following video is an example of blending sounds with Fred.
The children are taught the sounds in 3 sets.
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.
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.
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.
Within all the books children will have 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. Green words are linked to the sounds they have been learning and are easily decodable.
Dots and dashes represent the sound each letter makes.
Once your child has been introduced and taught these words in school we will send them home for you to continue practising with your child. These will be put into their reading record.
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, build a sentence’ or 'proof read'.
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.
Proof read allows children to check for mistakes within a sentence and correct as necessary.
Order of Story books:
Children will hopefully follow the order listed below. The expectation is that all children will leave Year One as confident speedy readers, ready to take on the challenges of Year Two. However, some children may need extra support and your teacher will talk to you about this.
Red Ditty 1 - 10
Green 1- 10
Purple 1 – 10
Pink 1 – 10
Orange 1 - 12
Yellow 1 – 10
Blue 1 – 10
Grey 1 – 10
To help at home:
Your child will start to bring books home when they are confident readers. Please help them to read and give lots of praise!
If you have any other questions about RWI, please see your class teacher or see Mrs Hewson.
Phonics Screening Check Year One
What is the Year 1 phonics screening check?
The Year 1 phonics screening check is a short, light-touch assessment to confirm whether individual pupils have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard.
It will identify the children who need extra help so they are given support by their school to improve their reading skills. They will then be able to retake the check so that schools can track pupils until they are able to decode.
Further information will follow in the new year.
Reading information for parents
Reading Information For Parents
Your child's reading experience is much more than the reading book which comes home from school. Reading is happening all the time in a classroom and in the school. It is taught in specific reading and English lessons, but children are practising and using their 'reading' constantly across all subjects too.
Parents can support this 'reading journey' through regular reading at home. Reading to and with your child every evening for at least ten minutes can make a dramatic difference to a child's achievement within school. A report from the Oxford University Press highlighted the importance of parents reading with their children. 'Children who read outside of class are 13 times more likely to read above the expected level for their age'.
The report also offers six tips for reading with your child at home, including:
1. Make time to read- even ten minutes a day
2. Choose different types of books
3. Take turns to read
4. Talk about the book- asking your child questions
5. Pay attention to the language
6. Enjoy reading
In order to support parents we have created bookmarks with questions and ideas you can talk about with your child. These are also found in your child's reading diary.
Reading Progression Document
St Columba's Literature Spine
As a school, we have written our own Literature Spine. This sets outs books per year group ( a mixture of fiction and some poetry) that are to be read and enjoyed!
Some of these book shave been chosen to be used as whole class texts, some for shared and guided reading and some for independent reading. They have also been chosen to represent some of the latest and best releases, as well as representing some genres and authors that our children may not necessarily choose to read of their own accord.
Reading for Pleasure
At St Columba's we want to encourage all of our children to have a love of reading.
We believe that reading should be a fundamental part of childhood and a skill which should be developed to support lifelong learning.
Our aim is to develop and embed a strong, sustainable reading culture within the school community. Confident and competent readers will foster a love of reading through a rich and varied experience of texts, in which they are empowered to exercise freedoms of choice and independence.
For further information, see our Reading for Pleasure policy.
Information coming soon...
Spoken Language and Vocabulary
Spoken language is an essential element of the curriculum as it is one of the main instruments of learning and communication throughout life. It underpins the development of reading and writing and creates opportunities in school for children to enquire about, explore and develop their knowledge across the school curriculum and beyond. The ability to communicate effectively supports children’s self - esteem, confidence, thinking skills and achievement.
For further information, see our Spoken language and Vocabulary policy.
Writing Progression Year 1- Year 3
Writing Progression Document Year 4 - Year 6
Writing and Handwriting