English at Holmwood School and Nursery


Reading at Holmwood

At Holmwood School and Nursery, we promote a love of reading throughout the school day and feel proud that our children are growing to being voracious readers and keen story tellers. This journey begins in Nursery, where the children enjoy a core text each week, from which they are inspired in all areas of the provision. They are surrounded by rich opportunities to develop language, which is the basis for all reading comprehension.

We make a strong start in Reception, by commencing phonics teaching in the first week of school. We use a programme called Read Write Inc to teach letter sounds and blending. From this point, the children work on their decoding skills until they are able to blend sounds into words and then access books that are fully decodable, allowing children to feel success at reading from the very beginning.

Whilst our children are learning to read for themselves, we continue to surround them with rich language, purposeful conversation and a love of stories. At Holmwood, we have adopted a programme called Talk Through Stories, developed by Ruth Miskin. Although Talk Through Stories is for all children, it is especially for those children who need support to extend and deepen their vocabulary so that they can understand the books they will later be able to read for themselves. The stories consist of old favourites, more recent literature and books representing many ethnic backgrounds.

The programme is structured in such a way that children get to know the story really well, including the plot, the characters, and their actions and motives. We explore eight words from the story, specifically selected to develop children’s understanding of each word in the context of their everyday lives. 

As well as our Talk Through Stories programme, we enjoy sharing poetry, traditional tales, non-fiction books and longer classics.

As well as the decodable reading book that is selected to exactly match each child’s phonic knowledge, the children have access daily to a vast range of books that they can take home to share with an adult. These may include a title from the following genres:

  • Familiar Stories
  • Short Stories
  • Adventure Stories
  • Longer Stories
  • Traditional Stories
  • Poetry
  • Non-fiction

Once per week, children are given the opportunity to choose a library book, which they can take home and share with their families. 



At Holmwood School we teach our children to read using a phonics programme called Read Write Inc. This programme enables our children to make rapid progress in reading. First, they learn one way to read the 40+ sounds and blend these sounds into words, and then they learn to read the same sounds with alternative spellings. They experience success from the very beginning because the Storybooks we read in school are closely matched to their increasing knowledge of phonics and ‘tricky’ words. As children re-read the 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.


In order to support reading at home at the start of a child's journey, we send home Fab Phonics books for children in Foundation. These include the set one sounds and the word time words for children to practice at home. Once children are rady, set 2 and 3 sounds along with words will be added. 


For more information about reading with RWInc, please follow these links: 

Introduction to Daily Phonics Lessons 

How to say the sounds 

Blending the sounds  



We are aware that children join us at Holmwood with a broad range of prior experiences and vocabulary. We have chosen a programme called Talk Through Stories which provides children with the breadth and depth of vocabulary they will need to understand the books they will soon read for themselves, and the conversations and discussion they will have with their teachers and friends.



During RWInc, children write every day, rehearsing out loud what they want to say, before spelling the words using the graphemes and ‘tricky’ words they know. They practise handwriting every day: sitting at a table comfortably, they learn correct letter formation and how to join letters speedily and legibly. Children’s composition (ideas, vocabulary and grammar) is developed by drawing on their own experiences and talking about the stories they read.

Children in Year 2 who have finished RWInc phonics move to RWInc Comprehension. This programme teaches children   comprehension, vocabulary and grammar through daily activities following a simular structure to what children are used to in their phonics lessons. Thinking and discussion skills are practised through a daily ‘Big Question’ which children debate.

In addition to our daily phonics lessons, children have a daily English lesson, in which they will explore a text lead curriculum. The texts have been carefully chosen to ensure we represent our community and the protected characteristics, whilst ensuring the texts are of a high quality and spark the children's interests. Children start the journey of mark making from when they join us in nursery, with lots of oppertunities to strengthen their gross and fine motor skills and explore making marks with different media. This then progresses into forming recognisable shapes and letters which supports them in their phonics journey. The core skills of writing are developed, ensuring children master the skills of writing and refine them. You can find the Writing overview for Key Stage One here. 



All children learn how to spell words using Fred Fingers, from their second week in school! They carry this method throughout school and you can see an example of that here:

Spelling with Fred fingers  


Tricky words are taught during RWInc sessions, and children will have a list of these spellings to refer to in their home spelling book, as well as in school. Children in Yellow group and above will be encouraged to remember the spelling patterns for these tricky words.


Reading at Home

We want our children to experience the same success and love of reading that they enjoy at school, at home, too.

With this in mind, we have invested in a range of books that are completely matched to the sounds that the children already know. We call these books our fully decodable reading books, and children will bring one home each day in a plastic wallet that has been provided especially for this purpose.

Children will be encouraged to read, and re read this book. We would expect children to read this book at least 3 times, each time becoming more confident and fluent so they no longer need to Fred Talk each word. When children are confident with reading the words, they can be encouraged to add expression, like a story teller. Finally, parents can chat about the book together with their child.

Children also bring home a sharing book each day. This is a book that is not matched to the children’s phonic knowledge, but instead is a book of the child’s choosing to share with an adult. Children can choose from various genres of text:

  • Familiar Stories
  • Short Stories
  • Adventure Stories
  • Longer Stories
  • Traditional Stories
  • Poetry
  • Non-fiction

Once per week, children are given the opportunity to choose a library book which they can scan in and out using our Junior Librarian software.



Phonics - speedy reading