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St James's Catholic Primary School

St James's Catholic Primary School

‘Put out into the deep’







Our Intent

Our intent is for children to apply their knowledge and understanding of phonics to blend when reading and segment when spelling.


We aim for all children at St James’s to learn to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension.


Our Approach

We understand from years of research that children’s communication and language (C&L) skills are the greatest predictor of future outcomes. Therefore, high quality C&L is prioritised as the important thread that weaves together all learning at St James’s.


We prioritise the teaching of phonics by using a direct and systematic phonics scheme called Read Write Inc (RWI). RWI provides challenge for our children and follows the mastery approach for all.


This means that children must demonstrate typically 80% mastery before moving onto new material. RWI is used by more than a quarter of the UK's primary schools and is designed to create fluent readers, confident speakers and willing writers.


All teachers and Learning Leaders who teach the RWI scheme at St James’s are highly trained and frequently coached by our Phonics Lead, Miss Berlyn. Teachers and Learning Leaders attend weekly practise sessions to refine their teaching in teams and also have regular contact with their RWI consultant, Nishat Mahmud.


In January 2024, we received a congratulatory email from Damian Hinds, Minister of Schools, on our outstanding achievement in the 2023 Phonics Screening Check.


St James’s ranked in the top 5% of all primary       schools in the country and we were thanked for our success in this vital area of a child’s early education.




Phonics in Nursery

Children attending St James’s Nursery learn to sing songs and say rhymes both in class and during weekly lessons with our specialist Director of Music. They repeat words and phrases from familiar stories and enjoy playing with toys and instruments that make different sounds.


As recommended, we spend three times as much time reading to the children as we spend teaching phonics. Discrete RWI phonics teaching typically begins in the spring term, although this is not delayed if children can already distinguish individual phonemes.


By the end of Nursery, children will have been taught to orally blend consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words and recognise some initial sounds in play.



Phonics in Reception

All children attending St James’s Reception are taught phonics in discrete daily lessons from the beginning of September. They are taught to read sounds and their corresponding letters/letter groups. They learn to read words by sound blending called Fred talk e.g. c-a-t = cat. Children in Reception read from a range of storybooks and non-fiction books matched to their phonic knowledge. They are taught to form letters/letter groups with the help of fun phrases.


Children are assessed every 6-8 weeks, in line with RWI guidance. They are then grouped according to their attainment which ensures complete participation in lessons and rapid progress.



Phonics in Key Stage 1

All children in Years 1 and 2 at St James’s are taught phonics in discrete daily lessons from the beginning of September. They are taught to read more sounds and their corresponding letters/letter groups. They continue to read words using Fred talk. As in Reception, the children read from a range of storybooks and non-fiction books matched to their phonic knowledge. Children are taught to form more letters and letter groups.

In the summer term, all Year 1 children in England will complete the Phonics Screening Check (PSC).

The PSC is a short, light-touch assessment to confirm whether pupils have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard.

Children who do not meet the expected standard in Year 1, will retake the check in Year 2.


More information on the PSC can be found on the link at the bottom of this webpage.


Phonics in Key Stage 2

Children who are not secure with the important phonic knowledge are given extra practice, whether or not a specific reason has been identified.


This extra practice is given in 1:1 or small groups as tutoring, consistent with the RWI scheme used in Key Stage 1 and Early Years. RWI tutoring is delivered in a quiet place at a regular time every day so that it becomes part of the child’s routine. These children are assessed every 6-8 weeks, in line with RWI guidance.


Supporting your child with Phonics at Home

  • Attend phonics and early reading workshops for parents and carers at St James’s for your child’s year group (see newsletter for upcoming workshops)


  • Talk to your child about their day, encourage them to speak in full sentences


  • Listen to your child read every day, without distractions


  • Ensure you are pronouncing the sounds correctly (see link below)


  • ‘Fred Talk’ words for your child to blend orally e.g. Shall we take the d-o-g to the p-ar-k?


  • Play games with new sounds e.g. a sound hunt around the home


  • Praise your child’s efforts in learning to read


If you have any other questions about Phonics at St James’s, please see your class teacher or Miss Berlyn via Info@.



What is Read Write Inc. Phonics?


RWI – A Guide for Parents


How to Say the Sounds (oral)


Ten top tips for reading stories to your child


Example nonsense words


Phonics Screening Check Information