St Mary's Church of England Primary School & Nursery

Growing Together in God's Love to Achieve Excellence



Reading is the cornerstone for the English, and wider, curriculum. Below is the school’s reading strategy which is implemented to achieve the best outcomes for pupils and to develop a love of reading.

Early reading is centred on the exploration of quality texts which engage and inspire children. Throughout the school, children have a range of opportunities to read, including: guided reading, shared reading, independent reading and reading individually to an adult. Our curriculum promotes a love of reading and we have a wide range of teaching resources and texts to engage readers.  In our classroom environments, pupils continually use their reading skills to research and gather knowledge in preparation for writing.



  • The systematic, synthetic phonics programme ‘Floppy’s Phonics’ is used to provide a consistent and rigorous approach to the teaching of phonics. Review, teach, practise and apply are the structure of phonic lessons.
  • A ‘phonic first’ approach to the teaching of reading is used. Phonics teaching starts in our Nursery with phase 1, with the six phonic phases being taught by the end of KS1. In our school, to meet the needs of our children and following assessment, Reception year are taught phonics in small groups. Years 1 and 2 are streamed according to their phonic phase and this includes year 1 children from R1.
  • Children in Year 3, who did not meet the required standard in phonics, continue to receive daily phonics sessions.
  • Phonics assessment will be carried out at least half termly, using the assessment tools provided by Floppy’s Phonics, to assist in the formation of phonics groups.



Guided Reading and Comprehension

  • In Reception, KS1 and Year 3, children take part in small group, guided reading sessions. In Years 4, 5 and 6 children experience comprehension activities, including whole class guided reading. In Reception, KS1 and Year 3, guided reading sets consist of books which are colour coded according to reading levels. There are also phonic-based books, to encourage decoding/blending and phonic recognition, which are levelled according to the phonic phases.
  • Children are expected to be able to read their guided reading books with 90-95% accuracy.
  • Comprehension skills are taught progressively (orally and through written challenges) throughout EYFS, KS1 and KS2 using the National Curriculum and the relevant key stage content domains. These domains (summarised in line with One Education’s reading gems), as well as supplementary criteria, are displayed prominently in every classroom and referred to during the teaching of reading and all other subjects. In KS2 Reading Domain Ladders (step by step instructions for applying the skills) are inserted into the children’s books.
  • Progression in comprehension questioning is ensured by teachers applying the reading domain/gem progression document guidance.
  • In Years 4, 5 and 6, children experience whole class guided reading, incorporating ECHO reading to develop expressive, fluent reading. In echo reading, the adult or confident reader reads a short segment of text, sometimes a sentence or short paragraph, and the pupils echo it back. Teachers model:
  • Pitch: The musicality of the reading voice – including tone and intonation.
  • Power: The strength given to the reading voice – including volume and stress.
  • Pace: The speed and rhythm at which we read.
  • Punctuation: The adherence to and understanding of the marks an author has placed upon the page.
  • Pause: The knowing of when not to read and for how long.
  • Passion: The emotion of the reading – including empathy and sympathy and the development of a reader’s love for the written word.

Lesson structure for whole class reading follows:

  • Discussion about vocabulary.
  • Introduction to the text: engage/hook the children, discuss a brief overview (This book is about…), relate to personal experience, discuss similar texts and explore connections between the text and the world around them.
  • ECHO reading.
  • Questions around the text with reference to the school’s reading domains/gems.

Reading books for home

  • Children, from Reception to Year 6, take home a book banded book, which is at the RR level below their benchmarked instructional level, until they are no longer on colour banded books. As a school, we choose to utilise the full RR level scale up to Sapphire (RR level 30). Phonic home readers are used by children up to phase 5.
  • All children are encouraged to read daily at home. A record is kept in the child’s reading record, where parents are asked to comment on what their child has read. Children’s reading is monitored and teachers intervene and encourage where reading is not happening regularly. Reading books are changed frequently and when necessary.
  • A 95% or above accuracy of reading is expected for a home reader for children.
  • Children in FS and KS1 (Year 1 children and Year 2 children who have not yet met the required standard in phonics) also take home a phonetically decodable book.
  • In the Foundation Stage, KS1 and Year 3, new book band success criteria is put into the child’s reading record as they change band.
  • KS1 and KS2 children are provided with a bookmark detailing suggested comprehension questions for parents and helpers to use when reading with them.

Breadth of reading

  • The school maintains an overview of the texts used in school for reading for pleasure (whole class readers), shared reading and/or whole class guided reading to ensure a breadth of reading material is used for whole class teaching. Age appropriate texts are used in topic sessions to boost comprehension as well as subject knowledge. First News is distributed to all Key Stage 2 classes.

Special Education Needs

  • Children requiring additional support with reading are given extra reading opportunities and specific interventions as necessary such as Wriggly Worms and Better Reading Partners.
  • A dyslexia portfolio can be completed to provide detailed information about a child’s specific learning needs in relation to reading. Children are then identified to work with our SpLD TA in small groups. 

English as an Additional Language (EAL)

  • All classes have books to read to the class and in their reading areas and class libraries that reflect the cultural backgrounds of pupils. The range of books include dual language stories, dual language dictionaries, non-fiction books about celebrations and festivals and books that celebrate our diverse school community. As we continue to identify emerging needs, as pupils get older and social dynamics change, additional reading material will be purchased to support these pupils and their peers.

Encouraging Reading

  • All children who either persevere with their reading or enjoy books are entered into a half-termly draw. Winners of the draw are purchased a book of their choice. For the draw, in the Early Years and Key Stage 1, children are selected through the monitoring of their reading record. In Key Stage 2, children who have read on at least five occasions at home are entered into the draw. Extra tickets are awarded to children who have shown to have persevered with their reading.
  • Teachers emphasise reading progress and effort through a weekly certificate, given during Monday’s praise worship.
  • ‘Reading Buddies’ sessions take place where classes are ‘paired up’ and an older child encourages a younger child with their reading. This can be through sharing a reading book, looking at a picture book or reading a story.  On other occasions, Year 6 pupils read stories to KS1, Year 3 and Year 4.  Year 3 are paired with Nursery and sessions are arranged to suit the two classes.
  • Children’s enjoyment of reading is displayed in every class e.g. recommendations for ‘good reads’, displays of favourite books or authors, photographs of the children reading in unusual places or favourite book covers. These recommendations are entered into a ‘Recommended Read Raffle’. Books selected by the raffle are purchased for class libraries.
  • Year 1-6 children have access to the school library and are encouraged to borrow books regularly.
  • World Book Day is celebrated, book fairs are held and authors visit school to read from their books and provide workshops to enthuse children with their reading and writing.
  • A reading council, to hear the pupil voice and promote reading, meets regularly.


  • In the Foundation Stage, KS1 and Year 3, children’s reading is assessed as part of individual and guided reading sessions; this also informs the band of their home reader. Benchmarking assessment is also used across the school.  In KS2, children are assessed through comprehension activities, online formal assessment termly and end-of-year testing.  The children are assessed using the National Curriculum objectives and the reading domains.