English Reading and Phonics

Statement of Intent

At St Joseph’s we aim to foster a lifelong love of reading in our pupils.  Adults at St Joseph’s lead by example, modelling enthusiasm for and engagement with books.  Reading is a life skill; hence it is a key focus for our children from Nursery to Year 6.  Our aims within our reading curriculum are:

  • To foster an interest in books
  • and reading for pleasure, including enjoying a wide variety of texts, including fiction, non-fiction and poetry;
  • To ensure children can read with confidence, accuracy, fluency and understanding;
  • To ensure children become independent readers, transferring their skills across the curriculum;
  • To foster the imagination of children, their inventiveness and their critical awareness, as well as to increase both their written and oral vocabulary;
  • To prepare children for the next stage in their education.

Opportunities for Reading at St Joseph’s

Children read regularly in all areas of the curriculum and in every part of the school day:

Whole Class Text Study

Our narrative lessons are taught through a high-quality core text which is linked to the writing objective. Children engage in a variety of reading activities through English lessons, each promoting familiarity with and deeper comprehension of the text. This ensures that learners can then embark on a sequence of work which results in a written outcome, often using the text as a stimulus.

Whole Class Guided Reading

Guided Reading is a classroom activity in which pupils are taught as a whole class. Three sessions are taught across the week each session with a different focus:

  • Session 1- Themes and conventions and vocabulary.
  • Session 2- Retrieval
  • Session 3- Inference, comprehension and language for effect.

Each week offers a new theme (including themes linked to protected characteristics) and a text is carefully selected to offer an appropriate level of challenge.  Such sessions promote decoding, fluency and understanding (comprehension). Questions will be asked based on the National Curriculum, focusing on either Themes and Conventions, Comprehension and Inference or Language for Effect. Challenge may be in terms of reading cues and strategies, language and vocabulary, or sophisticated aspects of grammar, inference, skimming and scanning.

Home reading

All children are given a reading book to read at home with an adult, which will be changed as soon as they have finished reading it and their parents or carers have written a comment in their reading record. While children are working through the phonics phases, all home reading books will be from the Big Cat Collins Little Wandle Revised scheme and be phonetically decodable by the children, based on their phonics knowledge. Once Year 2 children have demonstrated that their phonics skills are at the expected standard, they will be given reading books that are not entirely phonetically decodable. In Key Stage 2, children will continue to take home reading books to read with an adult. The books will match the child’s reading level at the appropriate coloured book band. Book band progression is based on Collin’s Big Cat Reading Scheme. Once children have progressed beyond the pearl band, they will be encouraged to choose a book to read with an adult at home, and for the adult they read with to make a comment in their reading record book.

Story Time

 Across the whole school, books are read aloud and shared with pupils, helping children to hear fluent and expressive reading, and to nurture a love of books and reading for pleasure. Staff read to the children at the end of every day for 15 minutes. These texts are taken from our recommended reads, these books are age-related and can offer a challenge.

Our School Library

Children visit our school library on a weekly basis to select a book from a wide range of appealing and good-quality fiction and non-fiction texts.  We encourage children to read these books for pleasure and take these books home to share with parents.

Reading Plus

Children from Year 4 – Year 6 each have a log in for Reading Plus and access the programme 30 minutes a day, 3 times per week. Reading Plus is an adaptive literacy solution that improves fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, stamina, and motivation.

Early Reading and Phonics: Little Wandle Letters and Sounds (Revised)

At St. Joseph’s we use Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised to teach phonics. Phonics is given high priority at St. Joseph’s with daily phonics teaching in Key Stage One. We follow the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised expectations of progress:

  • Children in Reception are taught to read and spell words using Phase 2 and 3 GPCs, and words with adjacent consonants (Phase 4) with fluency and accuracy.
  • Children in Year 1 review Phase 3 and 4 and are taught to read and spell words using Phase 5 GPCs with fluency and accuracy.

Any child who needs additional practice has daily keep-up support, taught by a fully trained adult. Keep-up lessons match the structure of class teaching, and use the same procedures, resources and mantras, but in smaller steps with more repetition, so that every child secures their learning.

We timetable daily phonics lessons for any child in Year 2 or 3 who is not fully fluent at reading or has not passed the Phonics screening check. These children urgently need to catch up, so the gap between themselves and their peers does not widen. We use the Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised assessments to identify the gaps in their phonic knowledge and teach to these using the Keep-up resources – at pace. 

If any child in Year 3 to 6 has gaps in their phonic knowledge when reading or writing, we plan phonics ‘catch-up’ lessons to address specific reading/writing gaps. These short, sharp lessons last 10 minutes and take place at least three times a week.

All of our reading books are fully decodable and follow the sequence of our chosen Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) programme. We ensure that the books children read are carefully matched to the letter-sound correspondences they have learnt, enabling them to confidently apply their phonic knowledge.  

Our decodable reading books are taken home each week to ensure that our children’s reading success is shared with the family. All children have a home reading record where parents/carers and adults in school write in this on a regular basis to ensure communication between home and school.

Latest News on Reading and Phonics at St. Joseph’s

Elmer Day!

To celebrate Elmer Day, Reception completed a range of activities around the story. They had lots of fun!
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First News

Key Stage 2 – Year 3, 4 , 5 and 6Mrs Lawton has uploaded this week’s First News to the announcements in Seesaw for you …
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Reading Plus

There was not a sound to be heard! We have asked our Year 5 and Year 6 pupils to trial a new online reading program …
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