Phonics and Reading 

Reading is a fundamental life skill and as such we place a huge amount of importance on the development of good phonological knowledge and the acquisition of early reading skills.


We use the Read Write Inc Phonics programme. All staff teaching the programme have had the relevant training to do so. We aim for children to learn to read at a pace suitable for them. We want children to love reading and to want to read for themselves. 

In the Pre Formal classes, emphasis is placed on the importance of sound discrimination through developing listening, sounds, rhythm and rhyme. When students are ready they move through the RWI programme at their pace. Through the programme children learn the 40+ phonemes which include the alternative pronunciation of sounds. The children become skilled at blending for reading and segmenting to aid spelling as well as learning to read and spell common exception words. The programme is carefully structured with each part of the phonics lesson having a specific purpose. The phonics sessions are fast paced and consistent to promote participation and engagement. Children use different methods to learn to decode such as ‘Fred Talk’ and ‘Fred in your Head’. This develops into speeding reading, promoting fluent word reading skills and good foundations in spelling. Some students at Mayfield School recognise words by sight which is encouraged and, for some, this becomes their preferred and effective reading choice.  

Reading Packs

In the Pre Formal classes each child has a pack with a book of their choice with sensory props to bring the story to life, adapting for each individual.  

Whilst on the RWI programme children have reading packs that contain letter flash cards (practising their phonemes) and a book that reflects their phonic knowledge from the scheme. Until the child is able to blend they will share a book of their choice with an adult, commenting on the book. These packs go home and parents are encouraged to report back on how their child reads at home. Teachers are responsible for recording and assessing the individual reading of each student. 


The students experience print in a variety of forms and for a variety of purposes and read for enjoyment, information and interest. Students participate in shared reading and individual reading. Through these methods, students are encouraged to decode text in a variety of ways, such as phonic decoding, recognising letter patterns and reading for meaning. Students are shown how to derive meaning from text in group and individual sessions and they are encouraged to share personal preferences and opinions about books. Students are taught to appreciate the tools of the individual authors, illustrators and publishers and read for and with other student and adults in a variety of situations. 

Sensory Stories

Sensory stories convey simple narratives using a mixture of text and complimentary sensory experiences. Each section of the story (normally just a short sentence or two in length) is accompanied by a sensory experience to help bring the story to life. For example, in a story where a boat is crossing the sea, water spray may be sprayed. When telling sensory stories, it is good to incorporate all the senses where appropriate to touch, smell, sounds, taste and visual stimuli. Sensory stories are appropriate for all learners in school and enables them to access stories in many different ways rather than just auditory involvement. This is also supported by story massage strokes, activities are then planned to enhance the story.  

Wider Reading

Students have regular access to a well-resourced library within the school. They are encouraged to select, borrow and return books, reflecting a real life scenario. This is an opportunity for students to be independent and make personal choices of books that they are interested in. Students are encouraged to take these books home to share. Students are also invited to reading events, such as book fairs and celebrating World Book Day.


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