Skip to content ↓

English Reading Curriculum

Reading Curriculum at Dovecote

Vision and Intent

Reading is a priority and is essential for the pupils of Dovecote to succeed in their education. As a school community, we place great importance on the progress of a child’s 'Reading for Pleasure' habits, reading attainment and knowledge acquisition. This is so that they not only build the skills needed to become an effective reader, but also foster a relationship with reading that is enjoyable and that they take pleasure from what they read.

Our chosen Synthetic Systematic Phonics programme is Read Write Inc. We use a phonics-based approach to help young children crack the ‘alphabetic code’; immersion in text to develop word-recognition skills; and the influence of knowledge, processing and cognition on wider comprehension.

When considering the child as a holistic reader, we as a school use The University of Strathclyde’s ‘3 domains model’. This model serves as an organisational structure for observing and understanding the literacy behaviours and knowledge demonstrated by children (Ellis, Carey, Smith and Rowe 2018). It also provides an understanding of cognitive development as well as valuing the cultural and social capital of the community of Clifton, and the identity and agency as a reader of the children at our school. With this in reflection, we aim to provide all children with the skills needed for them to become successful readers, no matter what their starting point, background or additional needs may be.

We aim to meet the expectations laid out in the EYFS Early Learning Goals and the National Curriculum, and when possible exceed these, and ensure children progress appropriately during their time at Dovecote. Alongside ensuring children become secure at decoding, we aim to develop their word recognition, fluency and comprehension so that the child can grow into a confident reader. As well as this, we foster an environment that nurtures reading for pleasure so that children can learn to enjoy and love their reading, and understand the benefits of it. We want every child to identify as a reader, and we endeavour to provide them with every opportunity to see themselves this way.


To realise our intent from the outset of nursery, we have curated a diverse collection of books that feature characters from different cultures and backgrounds. Our reading spaces are designed to accommodate all learners, with interactive storytelling methods and inclusive literacy activities. Children continue to develop their understanding of books, words and how to read. Additionally, we actively involve parents in the reading process and provide resources for extending experiences at home. Our approach is flexible, with continuous assessment and adaptation to ensure that our reading environment remains responsive to the evolving needs of the children. 

The explicit and direct teaching of word reading begins in the early years with phonics. Children will have daily phonics sessions, where they can take part in speaking, listening and spelling activities that are matched to their needs. Each facilitator of the phonics programme uses observations and continuous assessment to ensure children are given scaffolding in their learning and also challenged appropriately. This approach fosters the development of automatic and fluency in their reading. Comprehension of the texts they encounter is structured into the early year’s curriculum, with lots of opportunity for the children to build these skills early. Children are read to every single day, to continue to build a love of reading, and to provide opportunities to build book talk and comprehension skills. Regular assessments and monitoring allow for precision teaching and intervention to identify and support pupils before they fall behind.

In year 3, children are expected to be ready to join whole-class reading sessions, which are undertaken 4 times per week. If children are still in need of support in their decoding, they will continue access intervention for their phonological awareness.

These whole-class reading sessions take two forms. There are weeks focussed on explicitly developing fluency. These fluency sessions provide children with the skills needed and opportunities to practice their prosody, phrasing and automaticity in reading. Fluency session take precedent in year 3 and then give way to more development of comprehension as children progress through KS2.

Comprehension sessions focus on building the children’s knowledge of the world. These sessions begin with the class novel, using it as a stimulus for discussion and meaningful thought, and bring in a range of different fiction and non-fiction that links with themes within the class novel as the week progresses. This allows the children to develop contextual knowledge and understanding and create patterns of understanding that can be applied to a range of reading. We use the VIPERS approach to develop an understanding of the specific comprehension domains, and children are introduced to these from an early age by identifying each domain with a corresponding representation (The Dovecote Reading Dogs).

In our curriculum of class novels, we endeavour to provide the children with challenging books that explore many themes and big ideas, reflect the realities of the world we inhabit, and build on the children’s cultural capital. Books are carefully selected around 6 big ideas that run through the learning at Dovecote: Knowing right from wrong, Diversity, Conservation & sustainability, Friendships & relationships, Exploration & discovery, and Changes over time. We also incorporate Doug Lemov’s theory of the 5 plagues of the reader into the selection of the books, which states that there are 5 types of texts that children should have access to in order to successfully navigate reading with confidence. These are complex beyond a lexical level and demand more from the reader than other types of books (Lemov 2016).

We also pay significant belief in developing an ethos for reading for pleasure. Reading enjoyment has been reported as more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status, and reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s future success (OECD 2002). Staff are aware of the power of reading for pleasure and are open and honest with children about their reading habits and attitudes.  Reading is extremely visible in the school. We also run a Reading Ambassador programme which endeavours to provide children with peer role-models.


Impact is measured through lesson visits, pupil/staff/family voice, work scrutiny, formative and summative assessment and data. There are leadership meetings weekly, where the impact and children’s progress is evaluated and reflected upon




We teach phonics through the RWI scheme starting in nursery, where they are exposed to characters and visual representations of letters, play lots of listening games and meet Fred the Frog.

In Reception the children make the best start by learning all of the set 1 sounds and playing lots of Fred Games, before being assessed on which sounds they have retained, their ability to orally blend and ability to blend sounds to read word cards. They are then taught phonics in smaller groups and assessed throughout the year so that they are reading at the correct level and pace for them, moving through the set 1 and set 2 sounds and taking home 'Ditties' 'Blending books or RWI story books when they are ready.

KS1 the children are assessed and grouped according to their reading ability. They work their way though the Set 2 and Set 3 sounds, before moving on to comprehension, spelling and grammar. They take home RWI story books to support ther reading at home.

Year 3 children, who still need to, access the RWI phonics groups alongside year 1 and 2 children. KS2 children who still need extra support with their reading access the RWI 'Fresh Start intervention to help them to read and access their learning.

Please click the links to watch videos to support your knowledge of what RWI phonics is and how you can support your child with their reading at home. 







Through RWI the children will learn to read effortlessly, so that they can put their energy into understanding what they are reading.

The children will learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letter/letter groups, using simple picture prompts. The children learn to read real and ‘nonsense’ words by blending sounds together. These sounds can be stretchy and bouncy sounds.

Here are the sound mats that children have available in class. These are useful to refer to at home when reading and writing.  



Children learning to read words by blending the letter/sounds that are in the speed sounds sets. You can help your child to read words by sound-blending (Fred Talk)

e.g. c-a-t = cat            

sh-ee-p = sheep

In RWI we use ‘Pure sounds’. This means removing the ‘uh’ from the sounds. Please click the link above ('How to say the sounds') to hear how each sound should be said correctly.


Fred talk helps children to convert words into sounds so that they can easily spell them one sound at a time.

 Formation prompts

Each letter has a verbal prompt to support the children to form them correctly. It is important that children don't learn incorrect formations, as these can be difficult to unlearn and affect their handwriting and presentation moving through school.

Set 2 and Set 3 sounds have phrases linked with them to support children to visualise and remember the letters that match. Set 3 teaches alternative spelling choices for the same sounds. It is important that children are secure in their set 2 sounds before learning set 3 sounds.


Oxford Owls is a great resources to support learning at home. It is free to sign up, but you must create an account to access the resources. 

Other useful website for learning phonics at home are:






The Phonics Screening Check

In Year 1 your child will take part in a phonics screening check. It is a statuary check and school must report the results to both parents and the government. It takes place in June and you will receive a letter with your individual child's result. 

Part of the phonics screening is to check that children can phonetically blend sounds in nonsense words. Here is an example below.



Phonics games for home and school