How we teach reading at St. Patrick’s:

Here at St. Patrick’s, we believe that learning to read is one of the most important things your child will learn at our school.

At St. Patrick’s, we believe that reading is one of the keys to success and underpins children’s access to the curriculum; it clearly impacts on their achievement. To be able to read, children need to be taught an efficient strategy to decode words. That strategy is phonics. Phonic decoding skills must be practised until children become automatic and fluent reading is established.

St. Patrick’s uses Little Wandle Letters and Sounds Revised to teach phonics as it is a complete systematic synthetic phonics programme (SSP). We prioritise the teaching of phonics; we teach phonics daily in Year R and Year 1. It is vitally important that children review and revisit Grapheme Phoneme Correspondences (GPCs) and words, daily, weekly and across terms and years, in order to move this knowledge into the children’s long-term memory. Our consistent approach to phonics ensures that children are given the best possible foundation for reading, writing and language skills. 

Children need to learn to read as quickly and reasonably as possible, so that they can move from learning to read, to reading to learn, giving them access to the treasure house of reading. Our expectations of progression are aspirational yet achievable; children who are not keeping up with their peers are given additional practise immediately through keep-up sessions.

Children enjoy a range of multi-sensory resources to support their phonics learning. On-going assessment of children’s progress takes place and the books children read in school and take home to read are fully decodable and matched to children’s secure phonics knowledge. As well as fully decodable books, children take home a non-decodable book for sharing that can be either read to or with them. These books play an essential role in developing a love of reading; an important distinction is that these books are being shared with the children, but they are using fully phonically decodable books to practise their independent reading.

We want our children in our school to:

  • to love reading and to read for pleasure and enjoyment
  • to enjoy reading books
  • make choices about the sorts of texts they enjoy
  • read between the lines and behind the images
  • read fluently and with understanding a range of different kinds of reading material, using reading methods that are appropriate to the material and the reading purpose
  • use a full range of reading cues (phonics, grammar and context)
  • to gain library skills
  • to use reading skills to search for information

How we teach reading

First and foremost, we want your child to love reading – and to want to read for themselves. This is why we work hard to make sure children develop a love of books as well as simply learning to read.

In Foundation Stage reading skills are taught using a wide range of reading materials. In Nursery children are taught how to handle books. They learn that all print carries meaning and begin to develop an understanding of story structure and characters through adults sharing and discussing books. Children are given further opportunities to develop an enjoyment of reading through the use of story sacks, listening to rhymes, jingles and stories using headphones and adult led daily story sessions.

We continue the teaching of phonics in Reception and across KS1 using Big Cat Phonics reading books matched to the Little Wandle Phonics programme so all children are reading decodable books. We have a highly structured approach for the children so it is clear what sounds they will learn in every year group and in every half term. Children learn how to ‘read’ the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down. This is essential for reading, but it also helps children learn to spell well.

The children also practise reading (and spelling) ‘tricky words’, such as ‘once,’ ‘have,’ ‘said’ and ‘where’. Once children can blend sounds together to read words, they practise reading books that match the phonics and the ‘tricky words’ they know. They start to believe they can read and this does wonders for their confidence.

Teachers regularly read to the children, too, so the children get to know and love all sorts of stories, poetry and information books. This helps to extend children’s vocabulary and comprehension, as well as supporting their writing.

We check children’s reading skills regularly so that we can ensure that their books are well matched to their needs and they can read them with great fluency.  Children will move to a different level if they are making faster progress or may have one-to-one support if we think they need some extra help. Teachers assess throughout the year formatively and also summatively assessing each child’s reading age twice a year. This, along with other evidence, helps teachers to deliver effective reading programmes to improve skills and confidence.

In the summer term, the government asks us to complete phonics checks of all the Year 1 children. Parents are informed of these outcomes.

What does reading look like at St. Patrick’s?

Reading is and always will be central to the development of a child’s learning journey and as a school we have invested heavily so the children have access to high quality resources.

In Foundation Stage and across KS1, we teach phonics through daily sessions. Children are taught listening skills from Nursery and the skill of segmenting and blending orally.

In Key Stage 1 we ensure systematic teaching with opportunities to practice and apply in the context of reading, individual and guided reading and all areas of writing. We use a structured programme so that by the end of Year 1 children have exceeded government expectations. Our core reading scheme is Little Wandle Phonics. Your child will move through the scheme as they show good understanding of what they have read. For those children who are struggling with phonics we have additional phonics support books and activities.

During their time in KS2 children, children also use a mixture of Collins and Oxford Reading Tree schemes. These books are colour coded and match the reading ability of the child. When a child reads the reading age of 12 years old, we consider them to become a Free Reader where they choose more challenging books from the school library. The purpose of teaching children to read isn’t to restrict them, it’s to set them free so they love exploring the world of books.

Throughout school reading skills are also taught using a wide range of materials. Children develop reading skills through planned reading sessions, shared reading and individual reading sessions.

In addition to class-based reading, children can also develop their enjoyment for reading throughout school. They have the opportunity to access the school library to choose from a wider range of books on a weekly basis. There is a school library which children can access freely and every classroom has a reading area which further promotes and encourages reading for pleasure.

What is Phonics?

Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them to read and write. It runs alongside other teaching such as Guided Reading and English lessons, and discrete Grammar and Spelling sessions to ensure the skills are transferred into all areas of learning.

Children are taught all the sounds of the English language. There are 42 main letter sounds, this includes alphabet sounds as well as digraphs. The children learn the phoneme and grapheme for each. At this stage the children also learn how to form and write each one.

The 42 letter sounds are taught in a particular order, known as phases (not alphabetically), enabling children to begin building words as early as possible. There are 5 phases in the Little Wandle programme.

Children are then taught how to blend the sounds together to read and segment words in order to spell.

Some words have irregular spellings and are referred to as tricky words. The children learn these separately.

Phonics at St. Patrick’s

At St. Patrick’s, phonics is taught for 15 minutes to 30 minutes each day throughout EYFS and  Key Stage 1 and into the start of Key Stage 2. The programme is built on through school enabling the teaching of essential spelling, grammar and punctuation skills (SPAG).

Phonics lessons are taught in phases.


Foundation for Phonics in Nursery

  • Sharing high quality stories and poems with the children 
  • Learning a range of nursery rhymes and action rhymes 
  • Activities that develop focused listening and attention, including oral blending
  • Attention to high quality language with children

Phase 2

Phase 3

Phase 4

Phase 5


After Children develop the skills in Phonics they need to read:

We follow a five stage approach to Whole Class Guided reading. The core principles are:

  1. Specific and explicit teaching of reading and skills.
  2. Promotes rich and varied vocabulary and a deeper understanding of text.
  3. Engages, provokes and stimulates deep thinking.
  4. Provides clear insight into children’s progress in reading.
  5. Requires children and staff to deepen the quality of the level of

questioning and discussion

  1. An inclusive approach. Children of all abilities are immersed in high quality literature.

The structure of reading lessons across the school when children have mastered phonics:

Stage 1: Orientation of text.

We believe the orientation phase is so important to capture the children’s interest 

familiarisation with the text. We capture the children’s interest, create a sense of wonder as to what is going to come next. 

Stage 2: Retrieval.

We look at a question all together and model several examples all together while children are becoming familiar with the process.

Then we box up the question word.

Underline the key word to locate the answer quickly.

Guide the children towards what sort of answer they are looking for. 

Stage 3: Vocabulary

We expose our children to a rich and varied vocabulary.

Stage 4: Inference.

Children are then taught to find the evidence in the text to support their answer and to explain how this evidence helped them to answer the question.

 Stage 5: Application

 In the  final session, it brings everything together.  Children independently answer a range of questions to test the skills they have practised throughout the unit. 

Throughout school reading skills are also taught using a wide range of materials. Children develop reading skills through planned reading sessions, shared reading and individual reading sessions.

In addition to class-based reading, children can also develop their enjoyment for reading throughout school. Every classroom has a reading area which further promotes and encourages reading for pleasure.

Supporting your child’s learning at home

At St. Patrick’s, school and home partnerships are crucial in helping our children become better and avid readers. Below you will find links to websites and some videos which will help your child understand what we do and how you can support: