Reading and Phonics


At Nightingale, we believe that it is vital for children to learn to read confidently in order for them to become independent learners. We aim to develop a rich reading culture throughout the school through teacher modelling, a well-resourced school library, vocabulary rich displays, high quality texts, and inviting reading areas within all classrooms.

Reading is a crucial life-skill and, at Nightingale Primary School, we strongly believe that reading broadly and frequently increases pupils’ vocabulary due to them encountering words they would rarely hear or use in everyday spoken language. Reading also feeds pupils’ imagination and opens up a treasure-chest of wonder and joy for curious young minds. We know that it is essential that, by the end of their primary education, all pupils are able to read fluently, and with confidence, in any subject, to be successful in their forthcoming secondary education.

We strive for all of our children to be actively engaged in their own learning, to be motivated and eager, enabling them to achieve and attain their very best in reading and beyond. Alongside this, we endeavour to develop a love for reading throughout our curriculum which is based on high quality and engaging text drivers that are suitable to children’s age, ability and experiences.

In EYFS and Key Stage 1, children are given two reading books to take home: a practice Read, Write, Inc. Phonics book that matches their phonics focus and can be read independently, and a shared colour-banded reading book which closely matches their phonics ability, but may include some words that the child will need help to read.

In Key Stage two, children are encouraged to regularly take home colour-banded books that match their reading ability as well as their choice of library books each week. Children are also given weekly home learning tasks to support with their reading comprehension. A reading diary is provided to all children as a place where parents, staff and children can comment on their progress in reading – for KS2 pupils, this takes the form of a book review for pupils to complete themselves.

Phonics and Spelling

At Nightingale we follow the Read, Write, Inc. Phonics programme. Children are taught daily phonics throughout EYFS, Year 1 and Year 2. Read, Write, Inc. Phonics teaches children to read accurately and fluently with good comprehension. They learn to form each letter, spell correctly, and compose their ideas step-by-step.

Through Read, Write, Inc. Phonics, children learn the English alphabet code: first they learn one way to read the 40+ sounds and blend these sounds into words, then they learn to read the same sounds with alternative graphemes.

Lively phonic books are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ‘tricky’ words and, as children re-read stories, their fluency increases. Along with a thought-provoking introduction, prompts for thinking out loud and discussion, children are helped to read with a storyteller’s voice.

To support with home learning and the practise of phonics and spellings, each child at Nightingale uses the Spelling Shed scheme – a spelling practise website that combines digital games with offline worksheets and activities. Each pupil has their own unique login and teachers regularly assign spelling tasks that are personalised to match each child’s phonic and spelling ability.

Reading Books

The main reading scheme we use at NPS are the Read, Write, Inc. materials which are high quality fiction and non-fiction texts that link to our phonics programme. These also include the RWI ‘Red Ditty Books’ which offer children practise in reading short decodable passages that form an important bridge between reading single words and whole sentences, reinforcing the Read, Write, Inc. Phonics Set 1 sounds. Each book contains three fun and humorous ‘ditties’ with linked reading activities to develop accuracy, fluency and comprehension. 

Colour-banded books such as The Oxford Reading TreeSongbird, and Project X are also used within shared reading, small group reading and ‘read-aloud’ programmes. These are also used as “pupil choice” books, allowing opportunities for children to select a book that is different to their teacher-assigned book. All colour-banded books have been closely matched to correlate with the Read, Write, Inc. texts that their teacher will have assigned them. 

There are regular opportunities for the children to read on a 1:1 basis with a member of staff or our fantastic team of volunteers. 


The children have regular opportunities to visit the library. All classes are allocated weekly library sessions where children choose their own library books to take home. Our library is a safe and welcoming environment that entices all pupils, encouraging them to relish in the enjoyment of reading. It is well-stocked with a wonderful range of books for all ages and interests. Time is always given for all children to sit quietly and enjoy reading some of their favourite books during their library session, as well as basking in the pleasure of being read to by their class teacher.

How can you support your child’s reading at home?

It is expected that children in all year groups read at home daily, either to an adult or independently, depending on their age and ability. We encourage children to read anything that interests them – this doesn’t always have to be a story book!

Parents can support their children to learn key words using the lists sent home or as part of their child’s everyday reading, pointing them out in sentences or asking children if they can spot them in their books. Short activities such as cutting up key word cards and playing games with them, e.g. making up silly sentences by combining different words, keeps learning fun. We want all of our children to enjoy learning to read!

We would encourage you to read to your child as much as possible. You can read anything at all with your child but choosing something that your child shows interest in is valuable. Reading aloud to your child helps to develop their range of vocabulary and enhance their enjoyment of books which in turn helps them develop their writing skills. It can be helpful to talk about the books that they are reading, asking them questions about the characters, stopping to ask them what they think might happen next, or asking for their opinion of the story. Bedtimes are a perfect opportunity to snuggle up and read to your child, and is particularly important for our younger children. Not only is it calming and prepares them well for a good night’s sleep, it is also imperative for them to have reading modelled to them regularly as well as it being vital for their social and emotional development. If you don’t have many books at home or would like a new book to read with your child, you are always welcome to borrow a book from one of our ‘Bedtime Boxes’ which will be located outside your child’s classroom.

Supporting Reading at Home Handbook
Literacy Websites

Here are some recommended websites for supporting your child’s reading:

Oxford Owl: A fantastic site to support reading and maths skills, including a large number of free e-books which are also tablet friendly.

Phonics Play: Lots of useful phonics games and resources.

Teach Your Monster to Read: A free game to practise the first steps of reading. You can also download the app to have regular access to these games on your smart phone or tablet.

Words For Life: Excellent guidance from the Literacy Trust.

Guardian Children’s Book site: Recommended reads and much more!